• Did You Hear This?
    • Did You Hear This?
    • We want you to design our new course, Humanities on Demand: Narratives gone Viral. What goes viral? What is viral? All kinds of submissions are welcome: Blogs, YouTube clips, books, plays, films, fairytales, news stories, and anything else that you think exemplifies “going viral.” Finally, your chance to decide what gets taught at Duke. And you don’t even have to enroll in the course in order to submit your ideas!

Trayvon Martin was racially profiled when he was walking through a gated community in Sanford, Florida. A man, George Zimmerman, called the police because he though Martin’s behavior was suspicious. Before the police even arrived, there was an altercation, and Martin was fatally shot in the chest. Many people believe that Martin was racially profiled by Zimmerman, because Martin was African American, and Zimmerman is biracial, with a white father and Peruvian mother.  The image of the hoodie went viral, and many people put up pictures of themselves in hoodies to show support and respect for Trayvon Martin. One of the hoodie pictures that went viral was the one that LeBron James tweeted- it was a picture of him and his teammates on Miami Heat all wearing hoodies with their hoods up.

Trayvon Martin's Hoodie

Trayvon Martin was racially profiled when he was walking through a gated community in Sanford, Florida. A man, George Zimmerman, called the police because he though Martin’s behavior was suspicious. Before the police even arrived, there was an altercation,… Read More
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 On January 14th, 2013, Texas mother of two, Deborah Mitchell wrote a story on CNN’s popular citizen journalism website, iReport. The story, Why I Raise My Children Without God, quickly went ‘viral’ on online including social media and news sites.

“She said she shared this essay on CNN iReport because 'I just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me. I think people misunderstand or are fearful of people who don’t believe in God.” http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-910282

I chose this topic/article because I think it is part of a relevant conversation in the US. Parents are increasingly choosing to avoid teaching their kids Judeo-Christian values and teachings. I think it is part of the wider conversation about the religion's (especially Christianity) role within the public sphere of the US.

* Raising Children to not Believe in God *

On January 14th, 2013, Texas mother of two, Deborah Mitchell wrote a story on CNN’s popular citizen journalism website, iReport. The story, Why I Raise My Children Without God, quickly went ‘viral’ on online including social media and news… Read More
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Lazy Sunday was the second ever SNL digital short and is known as one of the original viral videos, if not the original YouTube viral video. It is often credited as the reason for YouTube's original success and even referred to by some as the reason why Google bought YouTube. After the video hit YouTube, YouTube's market share of US visits nearly doubled in a week. Along with this, Lazy Sunday marked the beginning of SNL's transformation from only pure sketch comedy to viral SNL digital shorts and The Lonely Island. This can even be connected to the beginning of mass popularity in short viral comedic videos and humorous joke music videos.

Lazy Sunday and SNL Digital Shorts

Lazy Sunday was the second ever SNL digital short and is known as one of the original viral videos, if not the original YouTube viral video. It is often credited as the reason for YouTube's original success and even… Read More
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 Vermin Supreme was a presidential candidate in the 2012 election.  He participate in a Lesser-Known Democratic Candidate Presidential Debate that aired on C-SPAN and, when uploaded to YouTube, quickly went viral.  Supreme soon moved beyond that video, however, rising to internet fame and becoming a meme due to his satirical mocking of the political system and absurd policies such as a mandatory toothbrushing law, utilizing zombies as a source of energy, and promising a free pony to every American.  Many Americans who had become disillusioned with the current political system and dissatisfied with the government found his outright ridiculous policies and brutal honesty refreshing.

Vermin Supreme

Vermin Supreme was a presidential candidate in the 2012 election. He participate in a Lesser-Known Democratic Candidate Presidential Debate that aired on C-SPAN and, when uploaded to YouTube, quickly went viral. Supreme soon moved beyond that video, however, rising… Read More
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 The word absurdity is one I would use to describe this trend in advertising and public media over the past couple of years. Movies like Napoleon Dynamite, TV shows like Adventure Time, and online offerings like Jake and Amir, have taken absurd humor and used them to great success.


I am planning to look into this idea in the context of advertising and psychology.

Absurdity in Advertising: The Rise of Old Spice

The word absurdity is one I would use to describe this trend in advertising and public media over the past couple of years. Movies like Napoleon Dynamite, TV shows like Adventure Time, and online offerings like Jake and Amir,… Read More
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Aptly stated by the Women and Memory Forum, "Narratives of the Arab Spring are not uniform: they range from idealistic celebration to dark pessimism." I would like to better understand the underlying significance of such a comment: what are these narratives? What really went viral? By examining contemporary literature, Google Analytics, trending terms, Instagram and Twitter, I would like to examine the concepts, images and videos that went viral during the recent political revolutions across the Arab World.

The Narratives of the Arab Spring

Aptly stated by the Women and Memory Forum, "Narratives of the Arab Spring are not uniform: they range from idealistic celebration to dark pessimism." I would like to better understand the underlying significance of such a comment: what are… Read More
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This video was published during October 2012 and received over 6 million views in its first week.  The video features a 9 year old boy aka "Kid President" whose cute and silly demeanor captures the heart of his viewers.   In this video he says "What will you create when you make the world awesome?" and encourages people to follow their dreams.  He also tells viewers to share his video with someone who inspires them.  In a world where tragedy is all too frequently, "Kid President" reminds the viewer to look on the brighter side of life and to help make the world a better place.  I think that this video became viral because of the adorable protagonist, his simple message, and the innocent humor tied to his intentions.

Kid President: "A Pep Talk from Kid President to You"

This video was published during October 2012 and received over 6 million views in its first week. The video features a 9 year old boy aka "Kid President" whose cute and silly demeanor captures the heart of his viewers.… Read More
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For my final paper, I plan to examine the viral phenomenon of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James. The first book in the trilogy was released in May 2011, with the second book Fifty Shades Darker released in September 2011 and the third book Fifty Shades Freed released in January 2012.[1] By the last book’s release, the book series had been dubbed a successful example of viral marketing, as over 70 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide, including the book rights having been sold in 37 countries.[2] In fact, the Fifty Shades of Grey series is the fastest selling paperback of all time, exceeding the Harry Potter series.[3]



[1] UK: BBC

[2] NYT

[3] Daily Mail 

Fifty Shades of Grey

For my final paper, I plan to examine the viral phenomenon of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James. The first book in the trilogy was released in May 2011, with the second book Fifty… Read More
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