memes in literature

From: Gene Doty (
Date: Wed 23 Jun 2004 - 15:16:11 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: memes in literature"

    Here's a little background on my interest in memetics. Any suggestions, comments, questions, cautions are welcome.

    My interest in memetics started with reading Dawkins and Dennett. I've read (and reread) Blackmore's _The_Meme_Machine_.

    I write poetry and teach writing and literature. I introduced the concept of memes in Fantasy Literature this past semester. I'm also an advocate of naturalizing the ghazal as a form of poetry in English.

    I have in mind several things. First, I simply want to understand memetics better. Then, I want to see if memetics has any value in literary studies. (I'm sure it does; I'm just not sure I'm the one who can develop it.) Along those lines, it seems to me that literary forms (the ghazal for instance, or the sonnet or haiku) can be seen as memes. And last, it should be possible to use memetics as a framework for discussing specific works of literature.

    Fiction depicting inventions is a clear example. Last Spring, I used memetics in discussing the material and social inventions in
    _Water_Ship_Down_ (Richard Adams) and _Small_Gods (Terry Pratchett). The students were responive and seemed to find the concept meaningful and usable. I'm hoping for a paper out of this material.


    Gene Doty
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