cheerful apprehensiveness of image macros as a tool for contextualising and defamiliarizing research elements

Memes function as a form of collective consciousness. Their form ranges from depicting complex ideas to communicating various societal, political, and personal situations. They offer insights or criticism through humour. Because of their relatability, they can spread throughout communities by being shared, often mutating and adapting to changing situations.

Their specific situatedness offers valuable context in which academic research can be situated. As academic research is often theoretical, finding ways that provide fresh perspectives is crucial. Moreover, the approachable construct of memes presents the welcome antidote to academic language, as it's close to students' own interior lives, interests and experiences.

With this in mind, I have started gathering memes on this page that can potentially offer informal testing methods for students working with theoretical research questions while providing information on the memes and suggestions on how to apply them for your own work. The aim is to offer fresh perspectives that could potentially spark new ideas.

Feel free to let me know about your experience. Suggestions are also welcome: hrnic.a (at)

Ideology at Work
complexities, summarized

Ideology is a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. Some of the most common ideologies include democracy, socialism, and capitalism, but they can also be more specific or nuanced. Ideology is oftend enacted in relation to our surroundings.

What are some of the ideologies used in your research? This can be either the ideology from external sources, or that which you have ideintified for yourself?

Try to identify this ideology in your surroundings, either in your interactions, through observation, or in the culture that you consume. Think small. Make a (visual) summary.

If it's an ideology from an external source, such as a publication, try to summarise it into an image that can be used as a cover for that publication.

Does it function? Does it need change, directness, simplification, or a different nuance? Examine and adjust accordingly.

Cognitive Dissonance
identifying ideological contradictions

Cognitive Dissonance refers to the mental conflict that occurs when personal beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by the new information. This conflict sometimes occurs when situations occur that challenge our ideas that we only hold in our mind (i.e. purely theoretical or hypothetical ideas and beliefs).

What are some of the contradictions between actions and ideas that can be found in your research subject?

Observe and identify examples small narratives of where and how these contradictions occur in your surroundings, either in your personal interactions, or in the culture that you consume. Think small and make a (visual) summary.

Does it offer new insights into your subject?

Shifting Perspective
finding the strange in the familiar

Defamiliarisation refers to the literary device whereby language is used in such a way that ordinary and familiar objects are made to look different and strange.

Identify a narrative from your own research and rewrite it with a new perspective.Consider the different elements that form your narrative, and how their meanings can shift in other contexts. Chose a perspective to write from and see what new meanings emerge.

Example of defamiliarisation: a summary of the film The Wizard of Oz.

Action Figures
main sources, summarised

Who is your main source? Identify figures that form a source for your research subject. This is particularly useful if your research centers around one or two (historic) persons.

What are their main characteristics? How would they function as a toy? If you have several characters, how would they interact as toys?

Mediatised recontextualisation
placing the research in a mediatised format

Shifting Timelines
narrative as a prophecy

Scale of Ethics
measuring the wants and the needs

Specific and Universal Truths
from a perspective of a 10 year old

Extracting the Aesthetics
the function of pure form

Kill Your Darlings
what are you killing / what's killing you?

The Sources of your Sources
meaning vs its signifiers