Author Pavithra Raja
Title An exploration of text and image in Singaporean internet memes
Institute Thesis (M.A.) (Applied Linguistics) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Year 2016
Supervisor Liew, Warren Mark Cheng Yi

This dissertation examines static Singaporean Internet memes to explore how ideological assumptions are creatively negotiated through text-image relationships and overall multimodal construction. Primarily, the theories and methods of social semiotics (Kress, 2010; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006), and Machin & Mayr’s (2012) Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA) are drawn upon in a critically tinged cultural exploration of the ideologies implicit in multimodal construction of Internet memes. Specifically, text-image relationships in static Singaporean Internet memes related to education during the end-of-year examination period in the year 2014 are examined. Ideas and theories about the neoliberal condition and the vernacular web (Howard, 2008) are complicated in an effort to discern the interplay of memetic conventions through the subversive vernacular of Singaporean Internet memes. The analysis suggests that not unlike global static Internet memes containing popular image macros, Singaporean Internet memes exhibit dense networks of intersemiotic meaning, sharing features of comic and sequential art in their nuanced portrayal of local educational issues in relation to hegemonic discourses. Rich intertextuality weaved humour with pop and local culture while incorporating global memetic vernacular, the local creole Singlish, Mandarin (one of Singapore’s official languages), as well as the local Chinese dialect Hokkien. It is suggested that ideological tensions can continue to be resolved in the multimodal construction of Singaporean Internet memes with the sustenance of the creative and culturally informed interplay of text and image in Singaporean Internet memes. Finally, the study seeks to highlight the esemplastic quality of Singaporean Internet memes in incorporating elements of memes to form coherent discursive artefacts.