When we envisioned a journal of visual culture issue on ‘Internet Memes’ over two years ago, we sensed that the best way to be generous to our subject matter was to not presume to know what it would look like. Academic publishing – characterized by its long review periods and labored revision processes – habitually plays tortoise to the internet’s hare. Entire online communities can rise, flourish, and evaporate in the time it takes to get your book reviewed. On 4chan, Reddit, or Tumblr, a single image can spin out a meme genre of subtle iterations while you’re still fine-tuning your paragraphs. And yet, the mismatch between the speed of internet culture and the slowness of scholarship does not absolve us – researchers, thinkers, critics, artists – from tracing the unfolding drama of internet memes, and the systems, networks and communities to which they are germane. One Does Not Simply: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Internet Memes.
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