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Literat, I., Conover, A., Herbert-Wasson, E., Page, K.K., Riina-Ferrie, J., Stephens, R., Thanapornsangsuth S., & Vasudevan, L. (2017). Toward multimodal inquiry: Opportunities, challenges and implications of multimodality for research and scholarship. Higher Education Research & Development. First published online: Oct. 16.
Abstract: In this article, we suggest that we are witnessing a challenge to the hegemony of text-based knowledge in academic scholarship, brought about by newly available modes of expression, and a cultural shift in our notions of reading and writing, authorship, and networked knowledge production. The central question we address here concerns the implications of widening our ideas of acceptable forms of inquiry, analysis and representation in academic scholarship. As a collective of scholar-practitioners exploring new modes of expression and working both within and outside the formal structures of academia, we argue for the increasing significance of multimodal research in the contemporary context of academic inquiry. By more equitably valuing different ways of thinking, knowing and communicating, multimodal research can facilitate wider and more diverse participation in the production of knowledge, offer a more nuanced and ethical mode of inquiry, emphasize different ways of knowing and connecting, and make scholarship more broadly accessible beyond academic contexts. Here, we analyze the key opportunities facilitated by multimodal inquiry, as well as the obstacles that stand in the way of a wider adoption of this type of research in higher education.
Literat, I. & van den Berg, S. (2017). Buy memes low, sell memes high: Vernacular criticism and collective negotiations of value on Reddit’s MemeEconomy. Information, Communication & Society. First published online: August 22.
Abstract: While existing scholarship has focused on distilling the attributes of successful memes and the dynamics of their propagation in online spaces, there is a lack of research on the vernacular criticism of memes beyond quantitative markers of popularity. By examining the MemeEconomy community on Reddit, where ‘meme traders’ appropriate stock market terminology to discuss and appraise memes, this article aims to understand how this particular subculture of self-proclaimed meme insiders assigns value to viral media. Our findings point to the salience of four key features that are seen to determine a meme’s value: its positioning in relation to the mainstream, its versatility and expansion potential, its topicality or cultural relevance, and its perceived quality. We discuss implications for the formation and reinforcement of subcultural identities around memes, and theorize the role of vernacular criticism as fulfilling significant social functions in online communities.
Literat, I. (2017). Refugee Selfies and the (Self-)Representation of Disenfranchised Social Groups. Media Fields Journal 12.
Abstract: As a cultural object, the selfie is a contested image, most often encountered and analyzed in an archetypal and reductionist form, as vain self-portrait or vapid social celebration. However, it is important to acknowledge that there is a wide range of selfie genres, informed by specific motives and circumstances, and socially read and policed in complex ways. Unconventional selfie practices—including the refugee selfies explored here, but also other specific genres like soldier selfies, or selfies at funerals—can expand our understanding of the selfie and of the functions it can perform. This essay aims to contribute to this emerging conversation by unpacking the complexity of the refugee selfie as contested cultural object. Specifically, I explore the function of the refugee selfie as documentation of and by othered bodies, with a focus on these selfies’ potential to both subvert and maintain the power dynamics inherent to self- and cultural representation.