Humor in Historical Memory: from an Anecdote and Caricature to an Internet Meme
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internet meme
humor in the media
historical memory
cultural memory
images of the past
historical myth
digital culture

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Artamonov, D. (2021). Humor in Historical Memory: from an Anecdote and Caricature to an Internet Meme. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3(3), 213-237.


The article is devoted to the study of the role of anecdotes, caricatures and Internet memes in the construction of historical memory. The memory of the past implies emotional content, the expression of which is often humor. The author views an anecdote as a component of oral history and a communication phenomenon of the pre-digital era, in which the representation of ideas about the past was humorous. A historical anecdote, being originally a kind of didactic historiography, has been transformed into a tool for transmitting an informal interpretation of history, and once in the digital media environment, it has lost its former meaning. Mass media, with the help of a caricature representing history in a humorous way, have visualized the images of the past, setting certain evaluative frameworks of historical and political events. Being an element of traditional media as well as a work of art, caricature encouraged the formation of historical memory along with other artistic genres. In the digital age, it, like a historical anecdote, has given way to Internet memes in the media sphere. The author considers Internet memes to be the phenomena of digital culture, defining them as a kind of a polymodal, metaphorical, often ironic, humorous utterance that is spread in the media environment. A historical Internet meme, combining the images of popular culture and collective memory in a visual text format, has a decisive influence on the perception of historical events and personalities by social media audiences. With the help of Internet memes a great number of Internet users create their own versions of the interpretation of history in a humorous form, thus reproducing the collectively shared mythologized ideas about the past.
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