The Hungry Meme and Political Contagion in Coriolanus

  • Clifford WerierEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


Werier uses meme theory to observe how contagious ideas related to food distribution and hunger operate in Coriolanus and its contexts. Richard Dawkins’s idea of the meme is applied to the 1607 Midlands uprisings, situating memes related to the distribution of food and associated political agency as a type of ideological contagion. The opening scene of Coriolanus demonstrates how the plebeians’ more equitable food distribution meme is countered by memes of state control and patrician care. The application of meme theory to Coriolanus emphasizes the primary impetus of the meme to replicate, both within the dramatic world and on the other side of the stage, where the early modern audience would have contended with identical memes which were virulently circulating.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mount Royal UniversityCalgaryCanada

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