Memes to an end: An analysis of online activist art from the Penn State Blue Out movement to end child abuse

Open Access
March, Laura
Graduate Program:
Art Education
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Booker Stephen Carpenter Ii, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Kimberly Anne Powell, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • meme
  • memes
  • social media
  • activist art
  • activism
  • Internet culture
  • art education
This thesis examines the use of contemporary Internet memes within online activist spaces. The novelty of social networks limits the amount of research currently available on the topic, restricting information on the pedagogical repercussions of social media within social justice art education. Visual imagery shared on the 2011 Blue Out Facebook event page offers an opportunity to discover new implications for the field. All content on the Facebook event page was examined to compare rates of interaction (“Likes,” “Shares,” and replies) of different posts types. The high proportion of interaction enjoyed by the Blue Out Internet memes, as compared to hyperlink and text, sheds light onto how these works functioned within the event’s online activist environment. Furthermore, this study uses visual discourse analysis (Rose, 2012) to examine the ideas portrayed by the Blue Out Internet memes.