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Browse Exhibits (3 total)

A Game of Word Play



Word play, or also known as “paronomasia,” is essentially the manipulation of meaning with the use of words. In this exhibit, we will discuss various types of word play. We will also see the images and captions working together to manipulate meaning, for the intended meaning would not work in the way the sender wanted it to be received, if the phrase or image stood alone

There are different types of word play, such as personification and alliteration. In some of these cards, we will be able to identify some of those word play types. The postcards in this exhibit show how text and image work together to create a clear understanding of the intended message. The postcards in this exhibit will also show us how often a message can be manipulated in various ways using word play.

The manipulation of language is much more common than we think, and it can be done while standing alone, paired with an image, or with the play of words in it of itself.  


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Postcards to Memes


(Warning: Strong language is sometimes used in the Internet memes.)

Humor is prevalent in postcards. This is evidenced by the surplus of cards in this archive that are tagged with “humor.”

A meme, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Specifically, an Internet meme is a piece of media that spreads from person to person via the Internet. An Internet meme can be anything from an email to a video to an image but the most common type of Internet meme is an image of a person with a funny caption superimposed on the photo. Internet memes are usually targeted at youth and adolescents, because that is the demographic that uses the Internet and is most likely to encounter memes.

Internet memes are a product of the modern prosumeristic society. Previously, media (such as books, television, or radio) had been an essentially passive experience, but the Internet allows users to interact with media. This is similar to how people were able to interact with postcards by writing their own messages on them, so it is no surprise that humor postcards and Internet memes are very similar.

The critical distinction between humor postcards and Internet memes are that Internet memes have the ability to be circulated much more widely than postcards. This is because there can be a multitude of Internet meme producers and there is a larger consumer base for Internet memes. It is also inexpensive and fairly simple to create an Internet meme.

Often, many different captions can be imposed over the same photo to create multiple Internet memes (as shown below). 


Stop: I'm Gonna Have to Kink-Shame You There

PC-DS 1302 Front.jpg

This exhibit aims its focus on different forms of sexuality that were prevalent in the Postcard collections, as well as in life. The first section of the exhibit is focused on Sexuality and Popular Culture. Some of these are outright examples of Pop Culture symbols; others are grouped here more on accord of the sort of themes they convey. Many of the themes are reminiscent of the sort of sexual humor we would expect of more present times. There are also an abundance of postcards with captions that are similar to the formatting used in modern day Memes. Many feature text panels on color blocks below and above the image, as well as the sort of one line humor that pop culture has established as a defining feature of Memes. 

It is also interesting to see the ways in which society embraces or denies sexality and romance throughout history, and the ways technology changes the expression thereof. The second segment of this exhibit focuses on romantic imagery that would be considered obscene for some audiences. 

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