Trevor Blank on Folk Cultures of the Digital Age

Trevor Blank talks about everything from photo-shopped memes (see below) and emoticons to rants and conspiracy theories in an interview with Julia Fernandez.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Contrary to popular belief, folklore is just as much, if not more, of an agent of the present as it is of the past. As a folklorist, I am interested in vernacular expression; understanding how people forge traditions, share knowledge, and make meaning in everyday life is central to my work. For me, that centrally involves working with new media technologies and observing the ways in which they’re implemented by individuals and groups in everyday life.

It is critical to document the myriad ways in which folk culture adapts, influences, rejects and responds to changing cultural tides, especially amid the exponential growth of computer-mediated communication technologies. Folklorists are uniquely positioned to comment on emergent forms of communicative expression, noting traditionality and innovation in seemingly new material while contextualizing and interpreting the forms and meanings behind its deployment. Whereas other humanities and social science fields may favor statistical analysis, data mining and text collection/comparison, folklorists employ interdisciplinary approaches, often using ethnographic methods, that strive for a more holistic representation of research subjects. At the end of the day, the emphasis remains on individuals and groups– even if they’re united in an online venue.…

And I’m very eager to read his The Last Laugh: Folk Humor, Celebrity Culture , and Mass-Mediated Disasters in the Digital Age, which is next on my list of summer reading.  I’m hoping he has something to say about “Hitler responds to . . .”



One thought on “Trevor Blank on Folk Cultures of the Digital Age

  1. Memes are seriously a great way to make fun of anything but imho, there has always been a thin line between humor and insult and digital age is making this line thinner.

    The above meme is too good 🙂

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