Author: Dr. Emily Stacey of Rose State College
Since at least a decade ago, the era of political memes has been here. But, as they have become a mainstay in political culture, communication, and communication for younger generations. How has Political Science recognized their potential influence on other fields?
I am a #millennial professor. My students love a good political meme. I have incorporated memes into many of my basic class presentations.
I make sure that memes resonate with my students. We all know that many of our students are part of the “soundbite generation.” Memes can be used to convey general information, provoke emotion, or make light of a particular situation. In our case, it is politics.
Here are some ways to use memes in your Political Science courses.
1. Make sure that the meme is catchy.
A meme generator with thousands of images from the mainstream is best. These images are easily recognizable, so you can add your own flavor!
Many generators allow you to upload photos for maximum meme-ability.
2. Make sure your message matches the image.
This is the most important. Your meme is the political communication. You don’t need to explain it. It doesn’t work with students if you explain it.
3. Be bipartisan, or nonpartisan.
Although it’s difficult for anyone to laugh these days, political memes can be both funny and useful.
Avoid using memes from one political party or one official too often, as it could alienate students.
4. Get involved with your students.
In my Political Media course, I use this assignment to make political memes. It could also be used in any American Government course to add to a media chapter or where political cartoons were covered before the digital revolution.
The assignment for my Media course is more complex. One example: In the aftermath of Cambridge Analytica, I had students search the memes and advertisements submitted to Congress by Mark Zuckerberg. Students created a meme featuring misinformation or disinformation that would influence voters.
Each student presents a selection of their own memes to the class. The results are always amusing and fascinating.
This assignment could be used in an American Government course. I would simply ask students to create a political meme to influence voters/citizens on various topics. You could divide the class into groups and assign each group a political issue, such as immigration, health, or the election.
5. Enjoy the memes.
Students can present their memes to class. It’s a great way to get everyone involved with politics and understand how social media affects voters and voting behavior.
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