Campus History

A 100-Year-Old Meme

This UW comic might have originated the genre.

Early 20th century cartoon

UW Archives

Move over, embryonic stem cells. Among UW–Madison’s greatest discoveries might be the meme. In May 1921, campus humor magazine the Octopus published this comic (unearthed at UW Archives in 2018), which looks an awful lot like a popular Internet joke you’d see today. In fact, if you substitute “portrait-mode selfie” for “flashlight,” it still works like a charm. Who says memes aren’t timeless?

Published in the Fall 2021 issue


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