To [B] or Not to [B]: A Derridean Analysis of Ironic Emoji Signifiers in Memetic Messages

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Paper Presentation

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The advent of the emoji has fundamentally altered the speech act in the twenty-first century. Image macros with predictable, repeatable text proliferated as memes and spread. As emojis have grown in their shared understanding, the opportunity for criticism of that shared meaning has grown alongside it. The [B] emoji has risen in popularity as a replacement for individual letters of already existing words. This paper conducts a Derridean analysis of [B], connecting the modern usage of [B] to Jacques Derrida’s concept of effacement--the striking through of text that is itself insufficient to convey accepted meaning. Using the framework Derrida establishes in Of Grammatology, we will show both the subjective nature of emoji meaning as well as the unique ability of such textual effacement to convey meaning beyond that connoted phonetically.


Semiotic Society of America Conference


Portland, OR


College of Arts and Sciences

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