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Textual Poachers: Television Fans and…

Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture

by Henry Jenkins

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This is an excellent book. Intelligent, thoughtful, well-written, by someone who knows his stuff. Yes it's dated; I would absolutely love to see an update for the YouTube world.
I have only recently entered the world of fandom; I've always known about Trekkies and the like but only recently begun to share and understand their actual experience. This book provides insight into that world; who these people are, what they do, what inspires them, what they're committed to. I felt like I was meeting my community. It's amazing and fascinating to know what's out there. It's especially fascinating to see what people accomplished before the Internet made communication so fast and easy, before DVDs and software put editing capabilities in everyone's home. You had to be committed to be a fan creator back in the day.
In all, a fascinating read, particularly as person who identifies as a fan, but I think also useful for anyone who wants to understand fandom and what makes these people tick. I think non-fan readers will be surprised and impressed. ( )
  elwyne | Jul 21, 2011 |
The basic information in this book is excellent. The problem is the thesis. Jenkins portrays fans as poachers on the intellectual property of others, and gives the impression that in order to have fan activity, you must have commercial popular media. However, it is clear from any reading of the Western canon, that "poaching" on the stories of the culture is the basis for most of our art. Chaucer and Shakespeare were constantly using other sources and refining the stories to make them better. Only the introduction of copyright laws and near universal literacy in the last two centuries makes fan activity any different from previous literary activity. Until popular culture studies gets away from the notion that the commercial text has more legitimacy than derivative works, a real understanding of fan activity is nearly impossible. ( )
2 vote aulsmith | Jul 27, 2010 |
A media studies exploration of television fandom from the early nineties. One of the best studies on the subject, at least partly because Jenkins considers himself a fan of the type he's discussing (too many critical discussions of fandom treat fans as weird or strange and their work suffers for it--there is, for instance, a section on slash fan fiction in Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters: Gender Dissent and Heterosocial Bonds in Gay Culture which, in its contempt for or misunderstanding of the subject, contains errors in its literary analysis which no undergrad English student would stand for). Jenkins spends a lot of time discussing who television fans are, what they do, and how their participation in fannish activities affect them. Overall, it's a positive study which provides a lot of insight, even if (or maybe especially if) you're a fan yourself. The missing last half-star reflects the fact that parts of the study read as very dated--being published in 1992, it predates the explosion of fan-related activity on the internet and (obviously) doesn't discuss many of the staples of recent fan-focus (Harry Potter, Jackson's Lord of the Rings, the second Star Wars trilogy, the new Doctor Who, nearly half of the installments in the Star Trek franchise). ( )
1 vote lycomayflower | Mar 13, 2010 |
An important book for cultural studies and fan culture, Textual Poachers provides an excellent primer and introduction to looking at fandom and its general practices.

While the book is now rather dated in both its examples (shows mentioned are all from the 1980s and very early 90s) and some of its subjects (filk music), the book is highly engaging and accessible, even for non-media scholars are just interested in the subject, or want to learn more about their hobby. ( )
  noelrk | Aug 2, 2007 |
Amazon: While dated, and slightly insular, this text is an excellent introduction to the sub-culture of fanzines and fan fiction. While many of the current generation of fans seem to believe fan fiction was born online around 1994, they should be surprised and hopefully pleased to discover the rich (off-line) history of the phenomenon, dating all the way back to the pulp magazines of the 1930s. Jenkins also draws attention to the fact that the vast majority of those a part of this fandom, are white, middle-class women seeking something more than they experience in their everyday lives.
  mmckay | Jun 4, 2006 |
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Textual Poachers offers an ethnographic account of a particular group of media fans, its social institutions and cultural practices, and its troubled relationship to the mass media and consumer capitalism.


"Get a Life!": Fans, Poachers, Nomads

When Star Trek star William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk) appeared as a guest host of Saturday Night Live, the program chose this opportunity to satirize the fans of his 1960s television series.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415905729, Paperback)

"Get a life" William Shatner told Star Trek fans. Yet, as Textual Poachers argues, fans already have a "life," a complex subculture which draws its resources from commercial culture while also reworking them to serve alternative interests.  Rejecting stereotypes of fans as cultural dupes, social misfits, and mindless consumers, Jenkins represents media fans as active producers and skilled manipulators of program meanings, as nomadic poachers constructing their own culture from borrowed materials, as an alternative social community defined through its cultural preferences and consumption practices.

Written from an insider's perspective and providing vivid examples from fan artifacts, Textual Poachers offers an ethnographic account of the media fan community, its interpretive strategies, its social institutions and cultural practices, and its troubled relationship to the mass media and consumer capitalism.  Drawing on the work of Michel de Certau, Jenkins shows how fans of Star Trek, Blake's 7, The Professionals, Beauty and the Beast, Starsky and Hutch, Alien Nation, Twin Peaks, and other popular programs exploit these cultural materials as the basis for their stories, songs, videos, and social interatctions.

Addressing both academics and fans, Jenkins builds a powerful case for the richness of fan culture as a popular response to the mass media and as a challenge to the producers' attempts to regulate textual meanings.  Textual Poachers guides readers through difficult questions about popular consumption, genre, gender, sexuality, and interpretation, documenting practices and processes which test and challenge basic assumptions of contemporary media theory.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:38 -0400)

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