Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2017

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Rafferty, Colin

Major or Concentration

Communication and Digital Studies


This paper examines the rhetorical strategies employed in the most popular political memes posted during the 2016 election year. It seeks to analyze thematic trends in rhetorical content reflective of cultural perceptions about American politics, anthropological realities, and information sharing and acquisition in The Digital Age. It measures how these different factors contributed to the “success” or lack thereof of the memes analyzed through various forms of reinforcement.
Pulling from a pool of the 500 most-shared political memes within the given time frame, I analyze recurring trends that appeared in fifty liberal and fifty conservative memes. My findings demonstrate how conservative memes overwhelmingly utilized logical fallacies to incite strong reactions from target audiences, and how liberal memes adhering more to the constraints of logical consistency did not achieve the same level of impact. The overarching significance in this project is in illustrating how the use and success of such fallacies in mimetic culture are indicative of deeper underlying issues in American society.

Included in

Communication Commons