It’s tenth week, dear readers, and we at the Miscellany are diligently working away on finals as the snow falls gently in the cold November air. Or, well, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Personally, I have been taking a “study break” for the past 45 minutes. But don’t worry. Even a study break can be a learning opportunity. After all, if I’m writing an essay on the use of the internet in the 21st century novel, shouldn’t I do some ~primary research~?
As a matter of fact, I think the internet has a lot of things to say about books, if you know where to look. And no, I’m not talking about the Sparknotes twitter account. Yes, yes, we’ve all seen it, the same three jokes about The Picture of Dorian Gray, Hamlet, and The Great Gatsby (you’d think they’d have switched it up a bit in the years since I was in high school). But I, on the other hand? I would like to consider myself a connoisseur of the literary meme. A collector, if you will. I add images to my camera roll with all the eclectic flair of an 18th century antiquarian assembling his library (was that a reference to my comps topic? I’ll never tell)
Indeed, I have somehow amassed quite a collection of silly little pictures over the years. I would like to think they are witty — nay, hilarious even. Yet, I am only one person, subject to all the frailties and biases of the human mind. It is time to subject my memes to a most rigorous process: peer review.
And so, to give my fellow editors a glimpse into the wild world of literary internet humor, I have curated the following selection of memes. May the best one win. Or at least make you scratch your head and wonder what on earth has happened to my sense of humor. Either way, you deserve a break — why not spend it with your favorite edz?
Sophia Heidebrecht: I have organized this collection by subject in roughly chronological order, so we are starting with the Classics. This one is very funny to me because I like it when people spell things wrong on purpose.
Andriana Taratsas: Sophia. Oh my goodness. What is this.
SH: You sound like my mother.
AT: I am your mother.
Elena Cebulash: Syphilis can’t stop pushing the boulder up the hill because he believes in his own cleverness over that of Zeus’, and that he can eventually get it to the top although it is enchanted to roll back down. I like my Classics memes to be more accurate, Sophia.
SH: Sorry, I’m not a classics major.
SH: Shoutout to that time at the English department Welcome Back party when a hush fell over the crowd during trivia and Andriana chose that moment to loudly call me “wench.”
AT: Way to call me out, Wench.
EC: (I was there too)
SH: And yet you did nothing to defend my honor in the face of this insult.
SH: Who thought of this? Why has it been edited so many times? What does the original post say, the ur-text if you will? We may never know.
AT: I think it’s really refreshing to introduce the milf archetype to classic literature. #BringBackTheMILF.
EC: This really brings the Author Function into the conversation. I’m with Sophia. “Me In,” “: what,” “the,” and “GET OUT” seem to be in the first frame. I’m guessing that “milfs” came next as the first meme, and then someone with our sensibilities changed “Camelot, lake, in, and King Arthur.” I have no further ideas.
SH: It’s one of those great bibliographic mysteries.
SH: I don’t know how many other people had to read Twelfth Night in 9th grade, but everything about this image gives me joy: the possibility that there are enough people “shipping” Mercutio and Benvolio that they established a name for that pairing; the fact that someone submitted an anonymous question about it; the astonishing range of costume interpretations for “cross-gartered;” the blog inexplicably titled after a War & Peace character; the idea of somebody fangirling over Malvolio; the nostalgia for high school when we brought in props for our Twelfth Night read-aloud and somebody wore a life jacket as a jester costume. Endless possibilities.
AT: Sophia is annoyed because I told her that this means nothing to me. But I’ve never read Twelfth Night (or Romeo and Juliet, which I have been told is relevant).
SH: You’re literally taking Shakespeare I right now.
AT: Your point?
EC: This means nothing to me.
AT: Thank you!
SH: The thing that most perplexes me about this one is their choice to censor “fricking” but not “shit.” Can I say that word? Anyways, smh.
AT: We’re English majors. We’ve heard (and, let’s be honest, said) worse.
EC: I’ll confirm that I’ve praised the symbolism of Theatrical Incest far more often than socially acceptable.
SH: You know who that reminds me of? btw.
SH: I get emotional thinking about John Keats sometimes… I always made an awkward bow, etc, etc. It gets me every time. I would like to give him a hug and a pat on the head. And also a TB vaccine.
EC: *Coughs haggardly into handkerchief, pulls away, folds it carefully and slips it into desk drawer, checking for onlookers.*
AT: He has fantastic cheekbones. I’d be precious too if I looked like that.
SH: It’s the consumptive chic.
SH: I haven’t actually seen the Tiktok that prompted this comment exchange but maybe putting Russian literature on Wattpad would make it more accessible. The library of the people.
AT: Not a bad idea, Wench. What if we rebranded literary classics as fanfic? It raises the philosophical question: What actually separates “real literature” from the “Original Works” category on AO3?
EC: (Vronksy/Kitty) , Modern AU , all the fluff , movie night , popcorn , candy , ice skating , If Alexei never met Anna AU
SH: On the topic of Dostoyevsky, he seems to be going through an online renaissance. I went through a brief phase of reading Russian literature when I was 15 so this is #relatable to me personally.
AT: This is so dumb. Everyone knows girls’ pants don’t have pockets. But this offers a useful thought experiment for a world in which we did.
SH: Speak for yourself. I only wear pants with pockets. Where else would I keep my Dostoyevsky bust?
AT: In your purse like everyone else, amidst your mint gum, tampons, tissues, wallet, and pocket Shakespeare. Duh.
EC: I prefer women to men as well.
SH: Speaking of…
SH: These next two selections are Kafka-inspired, because a large proportion of the literary memes I come across reference either The Metamorphosis or The Great Gatsby and I think the bug ones are funnier. This first image is Gregor Samsa post-metamorphosis superimposed over the lesbian flag. Why does this exist? I have no idea, but for a while this was one of the first pictures that came up if you googled Gregor Samsa.
AT: Everyone knows that the titular metamorphosis is a metaphor for female sexual liberation and homoerotic expression. Or something. And you call yourself a lesbian smh.
SH: Have you…. have you read the story.
AT: Obvs. Very spicy.
SH: Maybe you read the Wattpad version.
AT: Or maybe I’m just a little Kafkaesque. (See below.)
EC: For more bug-literature read The Manuscript coming soon.
SH: I like this one because it is the perfect reaction image for when something is messed up and Kafkaesque. Me when something is messed up and Kafkaesque.
AT: This is redundant. To be messed up is to be Kafkaesque. B+.
SH: How could you say that. That’s messed up. That’s Kafkaesque.
SH: I had to include this one because I have had this screenshot on my phone ever since I wrote a paper on this poem for Tim Raylor’s Intro to Poetry class in freshman year. Also, I wanted to test the knowledge of my fellow editors. I didn’t crop the caption out because “Pumpkin season” is objectively hilarious as a follow-up to a poem as metal as “Lady Lazarus.”
AT: I feel like I’m at a double disadvantage here. I don’t know memes, and I don’t know this reference. Does that make me a bad English major? Perhaps. Can I live with that? No.
EC: Thanks for asking, Sophia. For my first Tim Raylor “Introduction to Poetry” paper, I wrote about Emily Dickinson’s “Narrow Fellow in The Grass.” (B+/A-)
SH: See, Andriana, maybe you would Get It if you had just taken “Introduction to Poetry” with Tim Raylor. (This post sponsored by ENGL 118: Introduction to Poetry)
SH: We have now moved on from the textual memes to the metatextual ones. I thought this one was fitting for 10th week. How’s everyone’s final paper going?
AT: There’s actually a phrase I coined to describe this exact phenomenon. It’s called being “horny for val*dation.” (Are we allowed to say horny?)
EC: What does it say that val*dation is censored and not horny?
SH: We can’t let people know we need it.
SH: Allow me to describe this image, in case it was not immediately legible: It shows an artist’s rendition of Michel Foucault holding up knuckle tattoos that read “Post Structuralism,” having transcended the limits of form. Hahaha anyways can you guess who just reread “What is an author?” for her final paper?
AT: Sophia! What did we say about Foucault after midnight?
EC: Which meme references Foucault’s take on the age of consent? Show me that one and I’ll add a comment, wench.
SH: Gonna be honest, not sure how to make a joke about that one. Bit of an L there, Michel.
SH: These three thesis-themed things go together. Say that ten times fast.
EC: Thesis, thesis, thesis, theses, theseus, minotaur, Ariadne, Daedalus, Icarus, Marvel’s Eternals
AT: Speaking of thesis, George, can I change mine??? I don’t liiiike it anymore. Y’know what, I’ll email you.
EC: George, please comment below (if we haven’t kept comments off because of our Russian bot comments)
SH: I sent this one to the Critical Methods GroupMe last year, and I’m closing with it because Kota Shibui (English, class of ‘23) responded with the last words that are better than what I could come up with: “yes, but is it a better prison than illiteracy?”
EC: I don’t remember you sending this. Guess it wasn’t funny enough, huh?
AT: so true
Final thoughts? Ratings? Did any of them make you “lol” or at the very least exhale sharply through your nose? Either way, we hope it took your mind off that ten page paper you have three days to write (just me?).
Signing off (until the new year!),
ec is rly hilarious in this one, I think she's our favorite editor
favorite comments but meme replies good from SH- write to us in pm will give more notes