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Memes, GIFs, and Remix Culture: Compact Appropriation in Everyday Digital Life

Wednesday 23 May 2018, 5.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Eckart Voigts (Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany)

Professor Voigts discusses the sharing of remixed and mashed memes – a paradigmatic praxis of digital network culture – as special cases of transformation that can be distinguished from other forms of adaptation and appropriation.  The key case study is the animated GIF, which remediates existing cultural material – narratives, films, characters, etc. – breaking it up and recombining it in a cultural practice addressed as ‘recombinant appropriation’.  His paper points out the differences of remixes and mashups to traditional adaptations.  Based on techniques of montage, collage, and assemblage, remixing throws into sharp relief the persistent and demarcated textual contrast between the recombined objets trouvés.  He discusses this creative repurposing and refashioning with reference to GIFs circulating in ordinary, everyday culture such as the “Confused Travolta” meme.

Eckart Voigts is  Professor of English Literature at TU Braunschweig, Germany. He has written, edited and co-edited numerous books and articles, predominantly on intermediality, adaptation, neo-Victorianism, and theatre/drama such as Introduction to Media Studies (Klett 2004), Janespotting and Beyond: British Heritage Retrovisions since the Mid-1990s (Narr 2005), Adaptations – Performing Across Media and Genres (with Monika Pietrzak-Franger, WVT 2009) and Reflecting on Darwin (with Monika Pietrzak-Franger and Barbara Schaff, Ashgate 2014). More recently, he has explored the interrelationship of franchise adaptation and participatory culture on social media platforms, with a special focus on mashup aesthetics, paratextual engagement, transmedia modes of reception and reader-response. 

Location: BS/008, Berrick Saul Building, University of York Heslington West Campus