Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2543-3164
  • E-ISSN: 2543-3156
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Memes have been described as textual forms of “(post)modern folklore” (Shifman, 2014: 5). Photos or short videos, they highlight current cultural phenomena, and they spread exponentially through person-to-person sharing on social media platforms. For this article, I created a corpus of memes that circulated in March 2020, during the first weeks after statewide lockdown orders were issued in the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on Bakthin’s (1981) concept of the chronotope, I analyze a subset of these memes that specifically addressed the experience of time in confinement, illuminating two interrelated trends: the disruption of temporal order in the present and the projection of chronotopes of hindsight in which this present gets resolved as past. Through detailed textual analysis, I show that the memes reveal both a widespread sense of disorientation and a corollary impulse to mitigate it through the imagination of spatiotemporal realms. I argue that such chronotopic projections can serve as a response to temporary but profound uncertainty, caused in this case by the public health crisis in its initial stages.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): chronotope; COVID-19; humor; memes; pandemic
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