On June 25th I was lucky enough to coordinate a meme subversion workshop as part of the Gendered Bodies In Visible Spaces day at Leeds Beckett University – fun for me, and a useful way to trial the session before the Psychology of Women Section (POWS) conference in July!
Before I get into the memes, I want to briefly say how good the #BVis15 day was and thank the organisers/funders. Not only did we have two brilliant keynotes on the day (Marvina Newton and Ros Gill) but I was running my workshop alongside three others – the activist Barbie workshop with Paula Singleton, Cut It Out: Stencils against street harassment with Lucy Thompson, and subverting corporate beauty ideals with Glen Jankowski and Nova Deighton-Smith. Oh, AND we had an amazing vegan lunch… AND we had an amazing wine reception. Did I mention the day was free to attend? So yeah, a very big thank you to CeASR at Leeds Beckett and the BPS Psychology of Women Section, and to Lucy, Glen and Shona for making it happen! If you’re interested in the day, check out #BVis15 on Twitter.
So after presenting some of my research around memes and humour at POWS last year, a few people suggested that I should run a meme writing/rewriting workshop. I had no idea how this was going to go down, but I cobbled together some slides, printed off a bunch of existing memes, and armed myself to the teeth with sharpies, glitter and blank image macro templates.
Meme Subversion Workshop sign up stall – pre-subversion.
Turns out I was BLESSED with a room full of wonderful feminists who had brought their meme rewriting A-game! I gave a brief talk about memes and their potential for reworking/reclamation as a form of creative social action, then invited everybody to grab blank templates and craft supplies. After the initial nerves and uncertainty died out (which admittedly resulted in some funny memes, like this one and this very appropriate one) people seemed to get a little bit more settled. Well, I say settled. I think “full of feminist rage” would be a more accurate description. When the workshop was over we displayed our memes on the stall so people could browse through them and chat about the messages during the wine reception.
Subverted memes on display during the wine reception.
Once I got home I turned the paper memes into “real” image macros using the Imgflip meme generator. The sheer range of issues that people wanted to address with their memes was a little overwhelming, and you can see a gallery of the memes created at this workshop by clicking here or on the image below.
Thanks so much to everyone who came along and joined in, I really enjoyed the workshop and I hope you all did too! I’ll be posting the memes made at POWS conference workshop shortly, so if you enjoyed looking at these, do keep an eye out for a new post in the next week or so.
Have you ever made a meme? What would yours say?