Wednesday: Henry Jenkins

Popular Culture as Politics, Politics as Popular Culture

Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California)

When I was researching By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism, we interviewed more than 200 young activists. Many of them said that the languages of institutional politics was broken, providing no real point of entry for first-time voters, too much shaped by partisan divides to allow for common sense or consensus solutions to widely recognized problems. From these young activist’s attempts to rethink the vernacular of American politics, my research team developed a deeper appreciation of the role of the imagination as a civic resource and as we look around for theoretical tools to frame this call for a more imaginative and expressive form of activism, we found many other calls for a renewal of the (civic, radical, pragmatic, political, public) imagination – for a path by which people might imagine alternative futures beyond bleak political realities. As we look around us, we see an increased blurring of politics and popular culture, as activists tap popular texts for resources to help motivate and mobilized their supporters. Drawing examples from Black Panther, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Hamilton, but also from Donald Trump and the March for Our Lives, this broadly framed talk considers the increasingly complex interplay between popular culture and American politics. Along the way, I will introduce our core conceptual model of the civic imagination and the various theoretical roots we are drawing upon to frame this research.

Henry Jenkins is the principle investigator for the MacArthur Foundation funded Civic Imagination Project. He is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at the University of Southern California. His books include Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Participatory Culture, By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism, and the forthcoming Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: A Casebook.

Wednesday 27, 18.15-19.50

NEW Venue:
VU Initium Building, Room IN-B60
De Boelelaan 1077, 1081 HV Amsterdam