When Paper Goes Viral: Handmade Signs as Vernacular Materiality in Digital Space

Andrew Peck, Katie Day Good


This article examines the role of digitally mediated handmade signs in contemporary social movements. Bringing together theories of memetic practice, vernacular authority, and material traditions, we argue that vernacular materiality occurs wherever users turn to handmade, physical messages and material signifiers to transmit meaning online. Juxtaposing the humble and personalized aesthetics of handwritten messages against the polished, programmed, and virtual aesthetics of digital media, users mobilize vernacular materiality to disrupt hegemonic spaces and narratives by harnessing the affordances of physical and social media.


vernacular materiality, memes, participatory culture, social media, social movements, vernacular authority

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