Article published in:The Pragmatics of Internet Memes
Edited by Chaoqun Xie
[Internet Pragmatics 3:2] 2020
► pp. 174–201
Stylistic humor across modalities
The case of Classical Art Memes
This paper is concerned with ‘Classical Art Memes’, a category of internet memes that distinctively derives its visual input from classical and medieval art. I specifically show that humor in Classical Art Memes arises from incongruity among different stylistic varieties, namely a colloquial linguistic expression in the text and a classical-style artwork in the image. Given that stylistic incongruity cross-cuts modalities, I further argue that Classical Art Memes make a case for what I call ‘multimodal stylistic humor’. The analysis is based on a small corpus of when-memes, whereby the image complements a when-clause. The findings of the study suggest that humor in Classical Art Memes serves to convey affective meanings that emerge from the embodied affect in the image that is textually recontextualized in contemporary terms. Such meanings ultimately convey a critical commentary on knowable features of modern life.
Keywords: Classical Art Memes, multimodal stylistic humor, affect, image, recontextulization, stylistic incongruity, intertextuality
Published online: 01 July 2019
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