About the book

Memes influence public discourse. Make America Meme Again explains how, using the 2016 presidential election as a case study.

As demonstrated by the 2016 presidential election, memes have become the suasory tactic par excellence for the promotional and recruitment efforts of the Alt-right. Memes are not simply humorous shorthands or pithy assertions, but play a significant role in the machinations of politics and how the public comes to understand and respond to their government and compatriots. Using the tools of rhetorical criticism, the authors detail how memetic persuasion operates, with a particular focus on the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump.

Make America Meme Again reveals the rhetorical principles used to design Alt-right memes, outlining the myriad ways memes lure mainstream audiences to a number of extremist claims. In particular, this book argues that Alt-right memes impact the culture of digital boards and broader public culture by stultifying discourse, thereby shaping how publics congeal. 

The authors demonstrate that memes are a mechanism that proliferate white nationalism and exclusionary politics by spreading algorithmically through network cultures in ways that are often difficult to discern. Alt-right memes thus present a significant threat to democratic praxis, one that can begin to be combatted through a rigorous rhetorical analysis of their power and influence. 

Make America Meme Again illuminates the function of networked persuasion for scholars and practitioners of rhetoric, media, and communication; political theorists; digital humanists; and anyone who has ever seen, crafted, or proliferated a meme.

MEDIA FEATURES

Dr. Woods and Dr. Hahner have published a number of popular press pieces that interrogate the current status of disinformation campaigns and the way memes impact politics. Their efforts have attracted a potential audience of over 12 million readers, with a number of insights on digital propaganda, networked communities, and more.

Panel 1

Critics Chat: The Propaganda and Persuasion of the Mueller Investigation

“With the gaveling in of the 116th United States Congress, Citizen Critics reflects on recent developments of the Mueller investigation. This broad-spectrum discussion takes stock of the persuasion at work amidst the spectacle of un-redacted documents, misleading memes, and high-profile indictments.”

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Panel 2

How mainstream media helps weaponize far-right conspiracy theories

“Once an anti-Semitic rumor moved from fringe to the mainstream, it took less than two weeks for violence to erupt. The false allegation that liberal philanthropist George Soros was funding or supporting a caravan of Honduran refugees heading to the U.S. spread wildly from a single tweet posted on Oct. 14.”

More here.

Panel 3

Why Old Tactics Can’t Combat the Alt-Right

“[R]esistance strategies against far right claims must understand networked infrastructure.”

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Panel 4

Teaching Resources

Interested in teaching Make America Meme Again? Use these free resources to build your syllabus.

MAKE AMERICA MEME AGAIN: THE SYLLABUS

A sample syllabus focused on engaged learning practices. Teach students how to understand and evaluate memes with the assignment prompts below.

Make America Meme Again: The Assignments