“To meme or not to meme”, and to do so during a Pandemic. Shakespeare and the Memetic Transmission of a Classic


Shakespeare’s protean quality is an intrinsic feature: his works and even his persona have always been adapted and have been capable of transmitting through time and space. Rather than merely being the latest form of remediations, this paper suggests that memes can be related to the very nature of a classic, which resides in its transmissibility. In this paper, informed by the idea that a classic is comparable to a viral content, I analyse a few Shakespeare-related internet memes created in the first half of 2020, during the initial phase of the Coronavirus pandemic emergency, that assimilate Shakespeare in a pandemic context. An English icon, Shakespeare seems to be able to speak to different audiences in their own language, even in the lyophilized form of the internet meme.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v45p207

Keywords: meme; adaptation; virality; cultural transmission; intersemiotic translation


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