Exploring Visual Culture of COVID-19 Memes: Russian and Chinese Perspectives


  • Olga Smirnova Moscow State University
  • Alexandre P. Lobodanov Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Galina V. Denissova Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Anna A. Gladkova Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Olga V. Sapunova Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Anastasia L. Svitich Lomonosov Moscow State University




visual language, ethnic and cultural peculiarities, Chinese, Russian, cultural paradigm, digital memes, COVID-19


The article explores COVID-19 related Internet memes and treats them as samples of creolized text in a study of the way ethnic and cultural peculiarities of memes are perceived by representatives of two radically different cultural paradigms: the Russians and Chinese. A survey is used as a method of the investigation. Russian and Chinese students, and visual arts experts evaluated Russian and Chinese COVID-19 memes according to several criteria concerning their content, verbal constituent element and visual characteristics. The study concluded that the social and culture-specific components mostly contribute to forming the opinion of the meme and its appreciation. Awareness of both the cultural background and the current social and nation-specific situation is required to decode a full amount of information contained in a meme. Equally important is the visual component in understanding the meme. Thus, the study contributes not only to studying event-specific memes but also broadens the scope of research on memes as a sample of visual culture.

Author Biographies

Olga Smirnova, Moscow State University

Olga V. Smirnova, PhD, is Associate Professor, chair of Periodical Press Department at the Faculty of  Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia. She is also co-editor in chief of “Gender and Media” science annual journal and chair of the Digital Divide Working Group in IAMCR.

Alexandre P. Lobodanov, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Alexandre P. Lobodanov, PhD, is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia. He is a member of the Institute of Bologna Academy of Sciences, Italy, as well as a member of the Association of Historians of Italian Language, Italy; he is a member of the Academy of Sciences and Higher Education, Great Britain.

Galina V. Denissova, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Galina V. Denissova, PhD, is Associate Professor, head of the Department of Psychology of Language and Language Teaching at the Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia. She is also a coordinator of international programs at the Faculty of Psychology, MSU.

Anna A. Gladkova, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Anna A. Gladkova, PhD, is Leading Researcher and Director of International Affairs Office at the Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia. She is also IAMCR Ambassador in Russia and vice-chair of the Digital Divide Working Group in IAMCR.

Olga V. Sapunova, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Olga V. Sapunova, teacher of English, the Department of Psychology of Language and Language Teaching at the Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia. She is also a member of the Department of Academic mobility at the Faculty of Psychology, MSU.

Anastasia L. Svitich, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Anastasia L. Svitich, PhD in Philology, is Senior Lecturer at the Chair of Photojournalism and Media Technologies at the Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia.


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How to Cite

Smirnova, O., Lobodanov, A. P. ., Denissova, G. V. ., Gladkova, A. A., Sapunova, O. V., & Svitich, A. L. . (2021). Exploring Visual Culture of COVID-19 Memes: Russian and Chinese Perspectives. Central European Journal of Communication, 14(2(29), 259-286. https://doi.org/10.51480/1899-5101.14.2(29).4



Scientific Papers