Culture and the Media
The Evolving Subject
Dawkins, R. (2006). The Selfish Gene. 30th Anniversary Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. pp. 189-201, 322-32 (Chapter 11).

In this chapter of Richard Dawkins' infamous book he suggests that, in addition to genes, there is another kind of replicator which obeys the laws of evolution by natural selection. Memes are like 'viruses of the mind' which pass from one host to another by means of imitation within a culture. From a 'memes-eye' perspective, then, a subject might best be considered simply a collection of memes.

Further Reading

Aunger, R. (ed.) (2000). Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Selection of essays assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a memetic approach to culture.

Blackmore, S. (1999). The Meme Machine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. An enthusiastic and accessible elaboration of the notion of memes, with an Introduction by Dawkins.

Burman, J. T. (2012). The Misunderstanding of Memes: Biography of an Unscientific Object, 1976-1999. Perspectives on Science 20.1, pp. 75-104. Retrieved 3 October 2012 from here. Traces the evolution, reception and understanding of the meme meme.

Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dawkins' best known and much-discussed book. Also available in expanded (1989) and 30th anniversary (2006) editions.

Dawkins, R. (1982). The Extended Phenotype: The Gene as the Unit of Selection. Oxford: W. H. Freeman. Includes a short section (pp. 109-12) in which Dawkins refines and clarifies his notion of the meme

Dawkins, R. (1993). Viruses of the Mind. In: Dalhbom, B. (ed.) Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, pp. 13-27. Retrieved 24 January 2006 from Center for the Study of Complex Systems, here. Dawkins discusses memes as mental 'viruses', returning particularly to religion.

Dawkins, R. (2007). The God Delusion. London: Black Swan, pp. 222-34. Dawkins addresses some of the common objections to the meme/gene analogy.

Dennett, D. C. (1990). Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 48(2) (Spring), pp. 127-35. Reprinted in Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness Explained. London: Allen Lane, pp. 199-208. Reprinted in Dennett, D. C. (1995). Darwin's Dangerous Idea. London: Allen Lane, pp. 361-68. An account of Dawkins' notion of memes focusing particularly on the mind.

Distin, K. (2005). The Selfish Meme: A Critial Reassessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. An accessible elaboration of Dawkins' notion.

Gatherer, D. (1998). Why the 'Thought Contagion' Metaphor is Retarding the Progress of Memetics. Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission. 2(2) (December). Retrieved 13 October 2007 from here. Close, philosophical analysis of what memes are made of.

Gatherer, D. (2006). Cultural Evolution: The Biological Perspective. Parallax 38, 12(1) (Jan-Mar), pp. 57-68. A survey of evolutionary approaches to culture, including memetics.

Jan, Steven (2007). The Memetics of Music: A Neo-Darwinian View of Musical Structure and Culture. Farnham: Ashgate. Includes memetic analyses of works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

Jenkins, P. F. (1978). Cultural Transmission of Song Patterns and Dialect Development in a Free-Living Bird Population. Animal Behaviour 26, pp. 50-78. Culturally evolving saddleback songs, as discussed briefly by Dawkins (1976, pp. 203-04).

McGrath, A. (2005). Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, And The Meaning Of Life. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 119-38 (Chapter 4). McGrath, a molecular biophysicist and theologian based like Dawkins at Oxford University, argues that there are logical and scientific weaknesses in Dawkins' attacks on religion.

Midgley, M. (2004). Myths We Live By. London: Routledge, pp. 56-60 (Chapter 9). During the late 1970s Midgley engaged in a sustained discussion with Dawkins over his notion of a 'selfish gene'.

Tyler. T. (2012). CIFERAE: A Bestiary in Five Fingers. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press, pp. 184-206. Discussion of memes as nonhuman practices, using the examples of hand gestures, songs, Darwin's theory of evolution, and even the meme meme itself.

Williams, R. (2002). Memetics: A New Paradigm for Understanding Customer Behaviour? Marketing Intelligence and Planning. 20:3, pp. 162-67. Williams considers the utility of memetics for the study of customer behaviour.


Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission (1997-2005). Retrieved 11 January 2006 from here.