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Henry Jenkins

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Henry Jenkins

MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY A traditional account of democracy might focus on institutions, policies, laws, and systems. I am interested, however, in the ways that everyday citizens live in relation to the principles and ideals of a democratic society. Early in my career, I majored in political science, but found the field too abstracted from the everyday details of political culture. I have found that studying popular culture gives me an alternative way of addressing the issues that initially attracted me to political science. For me, the study of media and the study of politics are inextricably linked. My approach, however, contrasts sharply with writers like Noam Chomsky or Robert McChesney who understand popular culture primarily as a distraction from political participation. I see our relationships to popular culture as shaping our political identities in profound ways and am interested in the ways that people mobilize the contents of popular culture to understand the stakes in political struggles. Popular culture often expresses ideas or perspectives that are outside the consensus framed by the news media and are allowed to be expressed here precisely because popular culture is not taken seriously. Many subcultural communities draw on those resources to inspire their own acts of political resistance or to shape their own understanding of citizenship. This approach represents a movement away from a traditional notion of public sector politics and towards an engagement with the more domesticated conceptions of citizenship that emerged through feminism, queer activism, and other identity politics movements. I believe firmly that one reason why fewer and fewer people are voting is that the realm of governance and elections has remained too abstract and removed from the realm of their everyday lives. Increasingly, we are getting our knowledge about the world around us from nontraditional sources and we are expressing our political concerns outside the realm of government. THE INFORMED CITIZEN The informed citizen is a central ideal underlying any democratic society and that means the study of information technologies and practices are strongly linked to the study of political life. To be able to fully participate in the decision-making process, one has to have access to core information, one has to be able to process that information, and one has to have the right to share your insights with others.

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Henry Jenkins

"Media in Transition: An Introduction," which I co-authored with David Thorburn, deals with many issues surrounding media change, but an important aspect of the essay is an overview of a diverse range of theories and approaches to the issue of how digital media is impacting democracy, approaches which range from top-down approaches to governance, campaigning, and public opinion formation to bottom-up approaches to the notion of informed and participatory citizenship. The Boston Review recently asked me to respond to an essay written by political theorist Cass Sunstein, titled The Daily We, which makes the case that net communities may ultimately be less democratic than people have imagined because of the tendency of discussion groups to become isolating and to filter out opposing ideas. In my response, I offer my fullest discussion to date of how I think democratic principles operate in the new media environment, making the case that traditional intermediaries were far less neutral than Sunstein implies and that the new political culture will be shaped through the interactions between old and new media. I also include in the work an account of the circulation and political impact of my essay, "Professor Jenkins Goes to Washington," to illustrate the ways that the act of crossposting may embody the kinds of temporary tactical alliances between groups and individuals which theorists of radical democracy discuss. Some of the ideas in this essay first took shape in "Contact[ing] the Past," which I initially wrote for an MIT student publication, but has enjoyed a much broader circulation on the web. This essay used the opening of the film, Contact, to explore the ways that the history of the participatory uses of early radio have been erased from our popular memory of broadcast history and how these developments paralleled the participatory spirit of the early internet. "Information Cosmos," one of my Technology Review columns, deals with information and citizenship from a different comparison -- seeking to understand what lessons the modern world might learn from the history of the Ancient Library of Alexandria and framed as advice to the librarians in Egypt who have just opened a new library on that old location. Although the column is more evocative than definitive, a key subtext is how structures of information reflect and in turn shape political cultures. Another Technology Review column, "Good News, Bad News" extends this exploration of the information structures in place within contemporary media culture to consider the future of the local newspaper in a world where consumers can choose between hundreds of news sources on-line. I argue that the United States is evolving away from a culture centered on strong identifications with geographically localized communities and towards a national information culture, more like those found in Europe. The article also considers the issue of diversification of information sources in an age of media concentration, making the case that a locally focused journalism may
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Henry Jenkins

not, in the end, be any more diverse in the perspectives it offers than a rigorous national news culture. "Reading Popular History: The Atlanta Child Murders," which appeared in the Journal of Communication in 1987, explored the issue of the relationship of documentary and docudrama as vehicles for reporting on recent historical events -- in this case, on the Atlanta child murders. At the same time, I depict the struggle between local and national framings of the case, as I see how the Atlanta media responded to a disturbing network representation of the city's handling of this case. One of the writers who has most influenced my own thinking about media and democracy is the Australian cultural critic and journalism historian John Hartley. I have twice been asked to review Hartley's books and have used the occasion to delve deeper into his ideas about democratic citizenship (not to mention to pastiche his distinctive authorial voice.) My review of his book, "Popular Reality," for Continuum, enabled me to develop some of my own ideas about the different ways that news and entertainment television refract contemporary social and political developments and to speculate about the Monica Lewinsky scandel.

ACCESS The question of who has access to information technologies and who has the power to express their ideas through these channels remains one of the most worrisome aspects of the digital revolution. I was one of the co-organizers behind a joint MIT-USC conference on Race in Digital Space, which sought to shift this discussion away from the largely negative focus of the debates about the "digital divide" and focus attention on successful efforts within minority communities to exploit the political and community building potentials of these new technologies. Conference participants argued that the digital divide rhetoric can disempower minority activists by denying a history of innovative minority use of communications technologies. Rather than seeing cyberspace as "race blind" or exclusionary, the speakers focused on how minorities had pioneered alternative uses of the media more appropriate to the interests of their communities. The conference, held at MIT, was the first of two such events. The second one next year will enlarge the conversation about race to include a more global perspective. The conference organizers, Anna Everett, Tara McPherson, Erika Muhammed, and myself, are currently in the process of editing a book based on the conference and the related art exhibition for the University of California Press. One of my Technology Review columns, "Digital Land Grab" examines the erosion of fair use in the current moment of media in transition, suggesting the ways that the
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http://web.html (4 of 6) [2007-06-28 02:09:32] . Running through this research have been three major concerns: how do people use popular culture to explore and express cultural and political identities. I wrote about my experiences in testifying before Congress in "Professor Jenkins Goes to Washington. lesbians and bisexuals might gain "a seat at the table" if they tempered the more flamboyant aspects of their identities. THE CULTURE OF DEMOCRACY How are democratic principles embedded in the practices of everyday life? How do democratic cultures produce democratic citizens? Can we understand democracy more in cultural than institutional terms? How can we examine democracy as a "structure of feeling" or a way of interrelating to people around us? These questions have been a recurrent concern in my research." an essay widely circulated through the internet and posted on the web and ultimately reprinted in Harpers. COMBATING THE CULTURE WAR These same assumptions about the links between cultural identity and politics run through a succession of essays written in response to the Columbine massacres and their aftermath. primarily refracted through a focus on the political issues impacting children and youth. In my testimony." originally posted to a fan discussion list and later reprinted in Harpers. discussing parallels between discomfort within fandom about overt displays of identification and debates within queer politics about whether gays. Some weeks after the shootings. the New Identity Politics.Henry Jenkins expansion of corporate control over media content through copyright and trademark law had the potential to disenfranchise the general public's efforts to mobilize popular myths for their own expressive and ideological purposes. I argue here that the category of cultural preference may be increasingly important to the articulation of political beliefs and commitments in contemporary society. seeing it as an example of the kind of short-term alliances and coalitions that can emerge in the digital environment. represents perhaps my most explicit discussion of the links between popular culture and identity politics.edu/cms/People/henry3/democracy. I discuss the circulation of this e-mail message in my response to Cass Sunstein. I was called to Washington to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee investigations of the potential links between popular culture and youth violence. I sought to explain why popular culture was increasingly the site of generational conflict and to point towards the limitations of media effects as a language for explaining that conflict.mit. how has a discourse of culture war and moral panic sought to silence critical voices in our society by regulating their access to popular culture and communication technologies. and how might we develop a progressive discourse about childhood and "family values" which sees the home as the birthplace of our political identities. POPULAR CULTURE AND POLITICAL IDENTITY "Fandom.

What I produced is perhaps my most openly autobiographical work to date. In my essay. Katz came to MIT to participate in a public conversation with me about the politics of adolescence. For the most part. Katz also asked me to write the introduction to a book based on his "Voices From the Hellmouth" columns. which was transcribed for the Media in Transition website.edu/cms/People/henry3/democracy.parents. The essay explores radically different accounts of the politics of childhood as articulated at the 1996 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. I chose a somewhat novel way to approach this task.Now What?" Many people -. I make the case that every major political battle in the 20th century was fought through the trope of childhood innocence. offered up his column to high school students around the country to report on the backlash against student rights and subcultural identities they encountered in their schools. whichever side is the first to play the child card gains an enormous degree of moral authority. Jon Katz emerged as an important ally as I sought to break down the atmosphere of moral panic that surrounded popular culture in the post-Columbine period. RETHINKING THE POLITICS OF CHILDHOOD In "The Innocent Child and Other Modern Myths.html (5 of 6) [2007-06-28 02:09:32] ." the introduction to my book. explaining how my own troubling high school experiences shaped my political identity and led me to play such an active role in responding to Columbine. In any given debate. a journalist for slashdot. so this may be the only place you will see this particular essay. "We've Wired the Classroom -. "No Matter How Small. Unfortunately." which will appear in Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasure of Popular Culture (which I co-edited with Tara Mcpherson and Jane Shattuc) I describe a very different formulation of the family which emerged at the end of World War II as parents sought to develop more democratic forms of childrearing which would prepare their young for future http://web. The Children's Culture Reader. using episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to explore the power relations between parents and teens.mit. "The Uses and Abuses of Popular Culture" and "Lessons From Littleton" grow directly from my Senate testimony itself. teachers. religious leaders -. "The Kids Are Alright Online" reflected an attempt to examine the ways teens were building a culture for themselves in cyberspace which contrasted sharply with the problems they confronted at home and at school.Henry Jenkins I delved deeper into the politics of moral panic across a series of essays designed to help educators better understand the place of popular culture in the lives of their students. developing a dialogic essay with my son. the book has never appeared. A fuller version of that talk can be found on the website for our MIT conference. Katz. the right has been far more effective at exploiting the concept of "family values" than the left.urged me to develop some models and guidelines for how parents might talk with their children about popular culture.

Henry Jenkins citizenship. In this essay.mit. I explore how the writings of Doctor Seuss emerged from this post-war discourse about the micropolitics of family life as well as from his own public role as an editorial cartoonist for PM during the Popular Front period and as a writer for the Frank Capra "Why We Fight" Propaganda films.edu/cms/People/henry3/democracy.html (6 of 6) [2007-06-28 02:09:32] . How did Seuss transform the categories of adult politics into simple fables intended to be read to children in the context of the "permissive" home? What lessons might contemporary progressives learn from examining this explicitly leftist discourse about parenting and family life? How might it have foreshadowed the countercultural politics of the 1960s as the children raised in these "democratic" homes reached maturity? http://web.

For example. horror. A work that is pure invention is unlikely to be fully understood or appreciated. "It's Not a Fairy Tale Any More!': Gender.twinpeaks. The Trickster Author and Viewer Mastery. All works are born from a mixture of invention and convention. Narrational Play and the Comic Film". melodrama. drew on cognitive theory to explain how readers made use of genres in making sense of works of popular fiction and then suggested some of the complexities of applying this approach to answer the question of how we know that a film is intended to be taken as a comedy. using genre theory to better understand how fans fall in and out of harmony with commercial media texts. "Do You Enjoy Making The Rest of Us Feel Stupid: alt. and many others. children's films.tv. Genres should not be understood as rules or restrictions so much as enabling mechanisms that allow popular culture to be easily consumed and broadly appreciated.Henry Jenkins GENRES OF ENTERTAINMENT Genre is one of the essential categories for the analysis of popular culture. but genres are also formulas that artists draw upon for the production of artworks and conventions that enable consumers to make sense of new works based on their knowledge of previous works in the same category.comedy. erotica. Genre.html (1 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:09:50] . HYBRID GENRES My own work has explored a broad range of genres -. first published in Wide Angle. exploitation films. dealt with conflicting understanding of genre between the producers and viewers of the television series.edu/cms/People/henry3/genre. my essay. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture.) Full of Secrets: http://web. In this work. I have tended to emphasize the complexity of genre categories. science fiction. Beauty and the Beast". "The Amazing Push-Me/Pull-You Text: Cognitive Processing. A genre is a "kind" of work. looking at works that straddle genre traditions and focusing on the ways that audiences negotiate between competing genre framings of the same work. Beauty and the Beast.mit. a work that is pure convention is likely to be boring and uninteresting. suggesting an exercise in classification. which first appeared in the Journal of the University Film and Video Association and was later expanded for publication in my book. Popular aesthetics centers around this effort then to reach the right balance between invention and convention." which appeared in David Lavery (Ed.

both genres which. and youth media to explore what Buffy the Vampire Slayer might tell us about how teens negotiate tensions with their parents and other adult authorities as they seek to find their own place in the world. draws on the theory and criticism of melodrama to better understand the particular appeal of wrestling as "sports entertainment. FILM COMEDY http://web. but they may ultimately have more in common with each other than with other works in the same genre." written as a dialogue with my son. I draw on the ideas of Kevin Lynch. I have written two case studies of the ways that artists work with and against the conventions of popular genres: one centering on the exploitation film director Stephanie Rothman who struggles to insert her feminist politics into films intended for a drive-in audience. In "Monsters Next Door.mit.html (2 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:09:50] .films which attempt to tell the story of Manhattan. which was first published in Cinema Journal and later in What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic. "Shall We Make It for New York or For Distribution?: Eddie Cantor. traditionally understood. in their own way. suggesting that Eddie Cantor's films were understood as musicals in New York and other major cities where Broadway entertainment was popular and as comedian comedies in the hinterlands where musicals were facing resistance from audience members and exhibitors. which appeared in Adam Barker and Todd Boyd's Out of Bounds: Sports.Henry Jenkins Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks." I argue that wrestling constitutes a form of serial fiction for men. deals with Twin Peaks as a work which sparked a high degree of audience speculation in part because it combined mystery and soap opera. Media and the Politics of Identity. deals with an unusual genre -.especially horror. to examine the ways that these works struggle to give coherent shape and narrative structure to the complex experience of living in cities. "Tales of Manhattan: Mapping the Urban Imagination Through Hollywood Film". we draw tools from the study of horror. one which can trace its performance and narrative practices back to roots in 19th century popular theater. Here. The works discussed here cut across different genres. encourage readers to search for secrets hidden within the narrative. melodrama. I look at the commercial basis for genre mixing. which will appear in a collection on Imaging the City. a theorist of urban spaces. edited by Lawrence Vale for MIT Press. the other centering on the ways that avant garde artist Matthew Barney appropriates and reworks material from popular entertainment -. Whoopee and Regional Resistance to the Talkies". "Never Trust a Snake!': WWF Wrestling as Masculine Melodrama".edu/cms/People/henry3/genre.

What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic. categories which carry over into more contemporary media works targeting young consumers. my focus was on the relationship between genre and performance. In "Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered Playspace". For example.edu/cms/People/henry3/genre. Classical Hollywood Comedy. Buster Keaton. and ideology. My interest in science fiction as a genre led me to organize a reading series at MIT that explored how science fiction authors have dealt with issues of media change. along with an introductory essay which made the point that science fiction has been one major source of vernacular theory about the cultural and social impact of media change. seeing Velez as a "wild woman" caught somewhere between the scandalous erotic fantasies of the Tijuana bibles and the glamorous ideals of female stardom. a topic I have returned to a number of times in subsequent writings. Here. co-edited with Kristine Karnack. which appeared in Andrew Horton's Buster Keaton's Sherlock Junior. which appeared in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games.mit. provided me with an occasion to outline key aspects of the theory of film comedy. Transcripts of these conversations are posted on the Media in Transition website.Henry Jenkins My dissertation dealt with the impact of vaudeville on the development of the comedian comedy genre during the early sound period and was later converted into the book.html (3 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:09:50] . performance. each of which was the topic of substantive introductory essays. Her Mexican identity made it impossible to fully assimilate her into Hollywood standards of beauty and was often used to naturalize the more transgressive aspects of her female comic performance. including genre history. and Unfaithfully Yours. SCIENCE FICTION Written with John Tulloch. I http://web. gag and narrative. In "Laughing Stock of the City: Male Dread." I used concepts of comic performance to examine the representation of male dread of women in Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours. GENRES OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE Several of my essays examine the emergence of and the long term consequences of gender specific genre categories in children's literature. Science Fiction Audiences: Star Trek. Doctor Who and Their Followers explored why different audience groups were drawn towards science fiction as a genre and how this shaped their rather different experiences of Star Trek and Doctor Who. "That Keaton Fellow Seems to Be the Whole Show': The Interrupted Performance in Buster Keaton's Films". expanded my ideas about comedy and performance to examine the silent screen comedian. while "You Don't Say That in English!': The Scandal of Lupe Velez" explores the performance of racial identity within early sound comedy. Performance Anxiety.

I then draw on other works in the girls book tradition to understand some of the directions being taken within the girls game movement.Henry Jenkins suggested that the genre of the boy's adventure story and the boy's computer game drew on similar kinds of "blood and thunder" elements and represented attempts by adults to produce works consistent with boy's backyard play culture. shows how one could examine animal stories to better understand the sentimental construction of childhood.mit. which appeared in Marsha Kinder's Children's Media Culture. I discuss how Dennis the Menace emerged from the bad boy genre in children's literature and contrast bad boys with the sentimental representation of femininity in children's books of the same era.html (4 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:09:50] .edu/cms/People/henry3/genre. "The All-American Handful: Dennis the Menace. Permissive Childrearing and the Bad Boy Tradition". http://web. which appeared in Lynn Spigel and Mike Curtin's The Revolution Wasn't Televised: Sixties Television and Social Conflict. "Her Suffering Aristocratic Majesty': The Sentimental Value of Lassie".

this site is an archive of those activities.mit.mit.mit. current forums and conferences continue under the auspices of the mit communications forum.edu Search http://web.mit.mit.edu/comm-forum http://web.Media In Transition Archive note: the media in transition project ended in the fall.edu/m-i-t/ [2007-06-28 02:10:37] . media in transition book series mit communications forum comparative media studies program mit home page - http://web.edu/cms http://web. 2000.edu/transition http://web.

media and corporate practitioners.media in transition book series media in transition book series from the mit press David Thorburn. editor Associate editors: Edward Barrett Henry Jenkins The Media in Transition series provides a forum for humanists and social scientists who wish to speak not only across academic disciplines but also to policy makers. most of all. click on images or titles for tables of content and sample chapters Rethinking Media Change Democracy and New Media New Media 1740-1915 Neo Baroque Aesthetics | Comparative Media Studies contact | Communications Forum http://web. and.edu/transition/ [2007-06-28 02:11:06] . their fellow citizens.mit.

Hypertexts. and Colonized Spaces 4.Neo Baroque Aesthetics media in transition Use back button to return to main site. NEO BAROQUE AESTHETICS AND CONTEMPORARY ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA Angela Ndalianis. Polycentrism and Seriality: (Neo-)Baroque Narrative Formations click image for high resolution version 3.mit. Special-Effects Spectacles.edu/transition/subs/neobaroque. Chapters open in separate windows. and the (Neo-) Baroque http://web. Mappings. Intertextuality. author click on highlighted title to see chapter Introduction: The Baroque and the Neo-Baroque (complete) 1.html [2007-06-28 02:11:28] . and Architectures of the Senses 5. Labyrinths. Virtuosity. Special-Effects Magic and the Spiritual Presence of the Technological 20% DISCOUNT FROM MIT PRESS 2.

Recalling that other monster. the participant http://web.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. narrative scenario emerged. genetically engineered dinosaurs were brought to life by an entrepreneur who was determined to place them within a theme park habitat so that they could become a source of pleasure and entertainment for millions. Literally entering the fictional space of Jurassic Park. there was a land called "Jurassic Park. in the process progressively adopting the roles of dinosaurs and humans alike in a struggle that culminated in the final survival of one dominant species. the computer effects that so convincingly granted filmic life to these dinosaurs that inhabited the narrative space astounded audiences. the dinosaurs migrated to another entertainment format and roamed the narrative spaces of the Sony PlayStation game The Lost World: Jurassic Park. yet strangely similar. audiences inserted a PlayStation disk into their consoles and a different. in Jurassic Park. King Kong. once upon yet another time.mit. On the other hand.1). Introduction to Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment (Cambridge: MIT Press. On the one hand. the film's story enthralled its viewers. now the game player became integral to the way the narrative unraveled. To engage with this fictional world. once upon another time soon after.html (1 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:09] . Then. and on its release.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque Use back button to return to Table of Contents. one of the many lands in Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando. 2004) by Angela Ndalianis The Baroque and the Neo-Baroque Angela Ndalianis Postclassical. or Neo-Baroque? Will the Real Contemporary Cinema Please Stand Up? Once upon a time there was a film called Jurassic Park (Spielberg 1992). This was a geographical locale with which the audience physically engaged. Footnotes open in separate windows. Modern Classicism. Florida (figure I. however. audiences went to cinemas by the millions to be entertained by the magic that had to offer. Trapped on an island inhabited by various dinosaur species. Here the audience experienced an alternate version of the Jurassic Park story by traversing a land that was littered with animatronic dinosaurs." but this was no film or computer space. Dinosaurs were still genetically engineered. the player now "performed" by interacting with this digital entertainment format. And yes.

By permission of Universal Studios. triceratops. the wonder of seeing such deceptively real spectacles of extinct beings was destroyed. genres. much can be lost in doing so.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. Computer games2 like Phantasmagoria I and II and Tomb Raider I. Orlando. Soon after.1 The Jurassic Park Ride.mit.1 Although each of these "tales" can be experienced and interpreted independent of the others. the cinema's convergence with and http://web. and the participants of the fiction found their wonder turn to terror when they were stalked by raptors and a mammoth Tyrannosaurus. film technology combines with computer technology to construct the dinosaur effects that are integral to the films' success. dilophosauruses. Florida. Each "tale" remains a fragment of a complex and expanding whole. II. genres unite to produce new hybrid forms. Entertainment forms have increasingly displayed a concern for engulfing and engaging the spectator actively in sensorial and formal games that are concerned with their own mediaspecific sensory and playful experiences. and III cross their game borders by incorporating film styles. Traveling along a river in a boat. participants floated through a series of lagoons (including the "Ultrasaurus Lagoon") whose banks were inhabited by animatronic versions of hadrosauruses.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque Click image for detailed view. and velocitators. Universal Studios. Figure I. for these narratives belong to multiple networks of parallel stories that are all intimately interwoven. and special effects construct illusions that seek to collapse the frame that separates spectator from spectacle.html (2 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:09] . In the film Jurassic Park (and its sequels The Lost World: Jurassic Park II and Jurassic Park III). however. In the last two decades. And the narratives of the Alien films extend into and are transformed by a successful comic-book series. the Terminator films and the Spiderman comic books find new media environments in the theme park attractions Terminator 2: 3D Battle across Time and The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (both at Universal Studios). All these configurations have formal repercussions. Media merge with media. barely escaping with their lives by plunging to their escape down an eightyfive-foot waterfall. narratives open up and extend into new spatial and serial configurations. Like the Jurassic Park films. Indeed. and actors into their digital spaces. The movement that describes these changes is one concerned with the traversal of boundaries. entertainment media have undergone dramatic transformations. now experienced the narrative space in architecturally invasive ways by taking a ride through a technologically produced Jurassic theme park.

edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. a film like Jurassic Park is not only a classical narrative. 4). theme park attractions. however. For Thompson. "media technologies constitute networks or hybrids that can be expressed best in physical. ever was) "Hollywood" cannot be limited to its narrative practices alone. In the words of Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin. my response to this question is "a great deal. and television programs-that have also had formal ramifications. is a dynamic being that is not reducible to a state of perpetual stasis." Disputing claims to a "postclassical" or "postmodern" cinema.4 The cinema. post-1970s cinema has continued the storytelling practices of the classical Hollywood period. the clear three-part structure that follows an Aristotelian pattern of a beginning. 9). social.5 While revealing contemporary cinema's connections with the classical era of storytelling. Thompson claims that. and economic terms" (1999. the differences are essentially superficial and nonsystemic" (1999. is new about the New Hollywood in terms of what audiences see in theaters?" (2). that the economic structure of the industry today is fundamentally different from that of the pre-1950s era. I would suggest that. fundamentally. In this respect I agree with Thompson when she suggests that Jurassic Park has as "well-honed [a] narrative as virtually any film in the history of Hollywood" (1999.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque extension into multiple media formats is increasingly reliant on an active audience engagement that not only offers multiple and sensorially engaging and invasive experiences but also radically unsettles traditional conceptions of the cinema's "passive spectator.6 The fact is. middle and end (wherein narrative conflict is finally resolved)." Additionally. . 9). but a "superclassical" narrative: the goals of the narrative and characters are spelled out explicitly and economically. Conglomeration of the film industry since the 1960s has reshaped the industry into one with multiple media interests. however. Jurassic Park also highlights a great many of the radical transformations that have occurred in the film industry in the last three decades. technologies. and the cause-andeffect patterns pound along at a gripping pace until narrative disequilibrium (the threat of the dinosaurs and the planned theme park) is removed." In this book. it would appear that the answer to this question is "very little. and cultural concerns have altered dramatically in the interim. many of the aesthetic and formal transformations currently confronting the entertainment industry are played out against and informed by cultural and socioeconomic transformations-specifically." the first chapter of Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique (1999). essentially. the emphasis on goal-oriented characters. especially when some of these narrative traits are also being transformed.html (3 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:09] . like culture. I agree that.mit. In "Modern Classicism. aesthetic. however. One outcome of this conglomeration has been new convergences between diverse entertainment media-comic books. although the "basic economic system underlying Hollywood storytelling has changed .7 The advent of digital technology (and the economic advantages it offers) has altered the film http://web. and psychologically motivated characters with clearly defined traits. with respect to its narrative. indeed. . the contexts of globalization and postmodernism. Thompson argues that. Our society. the creature that now is (or. if anything. Hollywood has retained many of the narrative conventions that dominated its cinema between the 1910s and the 1940s: the cause-and-effect patterns that drive narrative development. Kristin Thompson asks the question "Just what. In Storytelling in the New Hollywood Thompson has contributed a fine body of research that seeks to locate the continuing relevance of the classical narrative tradition.3 Indeed. computer games. audiences.

cable. In the instance of the contemporary entertainment industry. It is suggested here that. The neo-baroque shares a baroque delight in spectacle and sensory experiences. cross-media interactions. In this book I argue that mainstream cinema and other entertainment media are imbued with a neo-baroque poetics.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque industry's production practices. and economic transformations. including an emphasis on serial narratives and the spectacular: forms that addressed transformed mass cultures: Throughout this book. "Hollywood filmmaking. numerous parallels between the two that invite comparison in the treatment and function of formal features. but it is also integrated into alternate modes of media discourse." states Thompson. Thompson states that industry features such as tie-in products. but also alternate modes of audience reception and an intensity of media literacy never before witnessed in the history of the cinema. Although she acknowledges the new synergies and emphases on spectacle and action that the contemporary film industry favors. This book is concerned with this new order.8 Yet this matter of degree is surely an important one: "Intensification" can reach a point at which it begins to transform into something else. remains firmly rooted in a tradition which has flourished for eighty years and shown every sign of continuing" (336). but also. says Thompson.and early-twenty-firsthttp://web.html (4 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:09] . Different historical and social conditions characterize and distinguish the two periods. an order that I call the "neo-baroque." It is all. integrating its features into its own complex system. fragmentation. Not only does the classical still persist. I agree. with the result that new aesthetics have emerged. 3). serial forms. therefore. a matter of "degree" (1999. I am especially concerned with evaluating the transformed poetics that have dominated entertainment media of the last three decades. Points of comparison are identified between seventeenth-century baroque art and entertainment forms of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to establish continuous and contiguous links between the two eras. I do not propose that our current era stands as the mirror double of the seventeenth century. digital technology. more broadly. multimedia interests.mit. and spectacle that is often reliant upon computer technologypresent contemporary audiences with new baroque forms of expression that are aligned with late-twentieth. There are. contexts that incorporate a further economization of classical narrative form. however. A new order emerges. howeverwhich are the product of conglomerate entertainment industries. and alternate modes of spectatorship and reception. 6). the terms "baroque" and "classical" are not used in this book in any oppositional sense: The baroque embraces the classical. "contrary to the voices announcing a `post-classical' cinema of rupture. and marketing have been a part of the industry since the 1910s and that currently the industry is involved merely in "intensifications of Hollywood's traditional practices. publicity. "baroque" will be considered not only as a phenomenon of the seventeenth century (an era traditionally associated with the baroque). and postmodern incoherence." As I will stress later. as a transhistorical state that has had wider historical repercussions. as a result of technological. industrial. and DVD technology has produced not only what Jim Collins calls new forms of "techno-textuality" (1995. contemporary entertainment media reflect a dominant neo-baroque logic.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. this "something else" has embraced classical storytelling and placed it within new contexts. Neo-baroque entertainments. In suggesting parallels between the two periods. The home market saturation of VCRs.

1995. according to Bolter and Grusin. By our going backward. and Justin Wyatt (1994). the audiovisuality of the baroque was transformed and given an "instructive" purpose in the eighteenth century to usher in a new era of reason that came to be associated with the Enlightenment. following the works of John Belton (see. computer games. my ideas are especially indebted to the research of Barbara Maria Stafford. the cinema remains paradigmatic and. cross-media. 1998). as is evident in the works of the above-mentioned historians and theorists. as well as mainstream cinema. the Internet. no matter how "new. and sculpture. theme park attractions. and comic books. In Remediation: Understanding New Media. New media always retain a connection with past forms. As Stafford states in Artful Science: Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education. cable. seems to do its cultural work in isolation from other media" (1999. and certainly no single media event. "we need to go backward in order to move forward" (1994. this book considers the cinema's continuing relevance in a world that has become infiltrated by new media technologies and new economic structures. Jay Bolter. For Stafford. image. formal. underlying the emergence of the neo-baroque are transformed economic and social factors. which have a longer history of traditions to draw upon. Janet Wasko (1994). thus allowing us to develop a clearer understanding of the significance of cultural objects and their function during our own times. and sound. Our optical technologies-home computers. 3). and the Internet "remediate" or refashion prior media forms. architecture. The neo-baroque combines the visual. but that dynamism is expressed in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in technologically and culturally different ways. Stafford posits that our culture is undergoing similar pivotal transformations. Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin are more expansive in their historical focus. who. Scott Bukatman (1993. "No medium today. and other information technologies-provide a means of using the image in ways that may transport users to a new period of technological reenlightenment (1994. much of the best analysis of new media emerges from cinema studies. This interdisciplinary. contemporary media such as the cinema. 1990). from alternate perspectives. and-cultural needs. the auditory. adapting them to their media-specific.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque century concerns. his 1992). Vivian Sobchack (I987. xxiii).mit. the writings of Sobchack (1987).html (5 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:09] ." rely on a media past. Jim Collins (1989. Importantly. discuss the inherent "historicity" of media. in particular.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. and Richard Grusin. The new historical poetics that http://web. With specific attention given to the dominance of digital media in our own era. Stafford establishes these links specifically between the eighteenth and late twentieth centuries. They argue that all media. In short. 1995. various parallels between epochs may emerge. Although this book focuses on diverse media such as computer games. In its combination of narrative. Like painting. and the textual in ways that parallel the dynamism of seventeenth-century baroque form. 1995). 15). 1998) and Brooks Landon (1992) have been especially influential in the priority they give to science fiction and fantasy cinema as fundamental vehicles that offer insight into the impact of new media technologies in the context of postmodernism. This book belongs to an expanding set of works that position the cinema and new media in relation to earlier forms of representation and visuality. Likewise. Bukatman (1993. and cross-temporal approach remains integral to the ideas that follow. Because I adopt a baroque model.

or the social awareness of realism. . The baroque was believed to lack the reason and discipline that came to be associated with neoclassicism and the era of the Enlightenment. architecture. though it was not a label used by individuals of the period itself to describe the art. since the release of Star Wars in 1977. vulgar. seventeenth-century baroque art was largely ignored by art historians.html (6 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:09] . or culture of the period. considering and elaborating on their arguments from the perspective of the neo-baroque. for the eighteenth and. One suggestion is that it comes from the Italian "barocco."9 Whatever the term's origins. computer games. it is clear that. Indeed. not only has science fiction become paradigmatic of the cross-media and marketing possibilities of conglomeration. the life span of the historical baroque is generally associated with the seventeenth century. The baroque was generally considered a chaotic and exuberant form that lacked the order and reason of neoclassicism. as it is generally agreed that a baroque style in art and music was already evident in the late sixteenth century10 and progressed well into the eighteenth century. Not only were his Renaissance and Baroque (1965. and theme park attractions become emblematic of changing conditions-cultural. even into the nineteenth century. and beyond the norm. and virtuosity. economic. In my efforts to delineate the transformations that the entertainment industry has undergone in light of economic and technological shifts. "baroque" implied an art or music of extravagance. Of Things Baroque "The baroque" is a term traditionally associated with the seventeenth century. Science fiction and fantasy films. Before we travel the path of the neo-baroque. originally published in 1888 and revised in 1907) and http://web. comic books." which signifies "bizarre. and music of northern Europe and Latin America. the transcendent wonder of romanticism. in particular. however. historical.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. During this time. its application in this way-and denigratory associations-gathered force during the eighteenth century. Although when the term "baroque" was originally applied to define the art and music of the seventeenth century is not known. the nineteenth century.. a brief overview and clarification of the usages of the term "baroque" is in order.mit. all of which were concerned with stirring the affections and senses of the individual. critics and historians perceived the baroque as a degeneration or decline of the classical and harmonious ideal epitomized by the Renaissance era. impetuousness.11 Until the twentieth century. the baroque was increasingly understood as possessing traits that were unusual. economics.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque this book explores are particularly evident in these genres. Not until the late nineteenth century did the Swiss art critic and historian Heinrich Wolfflin reconsider the significance of the formal qualities and function of baroque art. another is that the term derives from the Spanish "barrueco" or Portuguese "barrocco. and aesthetic-as played out across our entertainment media. I have reconsidered the research of the academics mentioned above from alternate angles." "extravagant". As stated.." meaning an "irregular" or "oddly shaped pearl. The etymological origins of the word "baroque" are debatable. especially in the art. a temporal confine that is more often a matter of convenience (a convenience to which I admittedly succumb in this book). As Bukatman (1998) has noted. exuberant. but the films narrativize the implications and effects of new technologies as well as implementing new technologies in the construction of the films' special effects.

Martin Jay (1994) liberated the baroque from its historical confines. Sassone.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Later Art (1932. become formula and canon. 1994) equated what she labeled a baroque folie du voir with the early-twentieth-century modernist shift toward abstraction. but they established the existence of a binary relationship between the classical (as epitomized by Renaissance art) and the baroque12 that has persisted into the twenty-first century. "freely" and "excessively" through the films of particular directors." it does not necessarily follow that the baroque was frozen within the temporal parameters of the seventeenth century. Its metamorphoses endlessly begin anew. Remy Sasseilin. formal patterns in art are in perpetual states of movement. With respect to the cinema. Although the historical baroque has traditionally been contained within the rough temporal confines of the seventeenth century. in other words. for example. Quoting a political tract from Balzac. In associating it with these instances of early modernist art. 70. 33). it may be abruptly frozen into a normative type. one that recurred throughout history but existed beyond the limits of a canon. Despite his strictly formalist concerns and lack of engagement with cultural issues beyond an abstract framework. that the inherent "madness of vision" associated with the baroque was present in the nineteenth-century romantic movement and early-twentieth-century surrealist art.mit. For Focillon. impressionism. Walter Benjamin. later-twentieth-century historians and theorists of the baroque have noted the impact of the baroque on nineteenth. Focillon stated that "everything is form and life itself is form" (1992. the baroque becomes a tool critical to understanding the nature of these early modernist artistic movements. Focillon understood form in art as an entity that was not necessarily limited to the constraints of time or specific historical periods. the term "baroque" is used rather loosely to describe a formal quality that flows . it is true. Focillon's arguments diverge from those of the above-mentioned authors. stating. and neo-gongorism (Overesch 1981. But form is primarily a mobile life in a changing world. to paraphrase Focillon. whereas the seventeenth century was a period' during which baroque form became a "formula and canon. originally published in 1934. and it is by the principle of style that they are above all coordinated and stabilized" (44). Although the latter part of the eighteenth century witnessed the dominance of a new form of classicism in the neoclassical style. one of the most influential works on my own deliberations is Henri Focillon's The Life of Forms in Art. For example.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro.13 Although I draw on the studies of Wolfflin. citing Sassone 1972). the baroque is often conjured up to signify or legitimate the presence of an auteurist flair in the films of specific directors. baroque form continued to have a life. Therefore. albeit one beyond the limits of a canon. In most cases. I suggest that baroque form still continued to have a life. the implication being that to be http://web. Similarly. like BuciGlucksman. has explored the presence of a baroque attitude to form in the artistic movements of surrealism. the word "baroque" is being adopted by historians and theorists who recognize the modernist and abstract qualities inherent in the baroque. and Jose Maravall on the seventeenth-century baroque.html (7 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:10] . being specific to time but also spanning across it (32): "Form may.and twentieth-century art movements. originally published in 1915) important in their earnest consideration of the key formal characteristics of seventeenth-century art. Buci-Glucksman (1986.

15 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. In Baroque Baroque: The Culture of Excess. 16 Raul Ruiz.21 To return to Focillon's argument regarding the simultaneously fluid and stable properties of art form. Classical Hollywood. including intertextuality. neo-baroque film that draws upon baroque devices. Thus the Soviet film Raspoutine. James Whale. as will be explained later. To be baroque is (supposedly) to give voice to artistic freedom and flight from the norm. the impact of the baroque on early-twentieth-century culture made itself felt in even more immediate ways within the public sphere. the mystical. and spectacle of the mise-en-scene and editing-that inspired his trilogy Strictly Ballroom ( 1997). lushness. Romeo + Juliet ( 1999). surrealism. Labeling the self-conscious fascination with the baroque in the twentieth century the "baroque baroque" (1994. Baz Luhrmann repeatedly refers to the baroque logic-the theatricality. seventeenth-century baroque often revealed an obsessive concern with control and rationality). contemporary Hollywood. And Sally Potter's Orlando (1992) has been described as a postmodern. and the fantastic (Derobert 1985).20 In interviews. While the Western world was experiencing a modernist revolution in art through postimpressionism. and architecture on twentieth-century culture. baroque form altered its identity as a style in diverse areas of the arts. is not "frozen" or "canonized" as a style. again the term carries with it connotations of something's being beyond the norm or of a quality that is in excess of the norm. in all the instances cited above. the baroque also experienced a stylistic resurgence. parody. Throughout the twentieth century. and its sense of the hyperbolic. Michael Curtiz.19 Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (Miller 1995) may be understood as baroque because of its "mythic proportions. The Italian film Maddalena (Genina 1953) is defined as baroque because of its melodramatic style and its focus on the excess spectacle of the Catholic church. Calloway traces its influences in the worlds of theater. http://web.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque baroque implies losing control (whereas on the contrary. constructivism. Tod Browning. Stephen Calloway traces the direct impact of seventeenth-century baroque design.17 and Peter Greenaway18 have been discussed as reflecting baroque sensibilities.22 The "Baroque Baroque" and the Hollywood Style: The 1920s and 1930s Whereas art-historical and historical research on the seventeenth-century baroque came into its own only in the latter part of the twentieth century. and art cinema directors alike have been evaluated from the perspective of the baroque.mit. With the exception of the seventeenth century.html (8 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:10] . and German expressionism.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. art. cubism." its grandeur. it was not until the twentieth century that baroque form underwent a series of metamorphoses that resulted in the stabilization of the baroque as a style. 15). in this case. and Moulin Rouge! (2001 ). continuing restlessly to move on to new metamorphic states and cultural contexts.14 Tim Burton. When the word "baroque" is used to describe particular films. baroque traits flow fleetingly through various art movements and films but retain their freedom of motion: the baroque. The films of directors Federico Fellini. 1'Agonie (Klimov 1975) is analyzed as baroque given its emphasis on themes of aberration. and a carnivalesque attitude that transforms Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel Orlando: A Biography (on which the film was based) into a "staged" world of stylistic excess and performativity.

The Baroque and Neo-Baroque

cinema, architecture, interior design, and haute couture fashion. The 1920s and 1930s in particular can be characterized as stabilizing a new baroque style. In London, an elite and influential group of upper-class connoisseurs in the 1920s formed the Magnasco society (named after a rather obscure seventeenth-century painter Alessandro Magnasco, who was known for his "fantastic" style) with the intention of exhibiting baroque art (48). Soon, what came to be known as a "neo-baroque" style was all the rage. As Calloway states, "magazines of the day decreed that the neo-baroque was in," especially in interior design (50). As early as 1906, Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens's Folly Farm residence (West Berkshire, 1906-1912) introduced decorative schemes that included trompe l'oeil illusions influenced by the seventeenth-century baroque. In the 1920s Lord Gerald Wellesley's bedroom in his London townhouse displayed the "Magnasco society taste," and a neobaroque form was evident in his bizarre and spectacular bed, the paintings that hung on the walls, and other baroque-inspired schemes in the room's decoration (48). Likewise, Cecil Beaton's neo-baroque house, Ashcombe-which included baroque furniture, door cases, putti sculptures, trompe l'oeil effects and mirrors, as well as light sconces on the walls that were cast in plaster in the form of human arms (a feature that was to reappear in Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete of 1946)-set many trends (86-90).23 A taste for things neo-baroque was also filtering into the exuberant and "dandified fashions" of eccentric characters like Cecil Beaton and Sacheverell Sitwell (whose book on the seventeenth-century Spanish baroque also contributed to an understanding of earlier baroque culture) (Calloway 1994, 32). These more eccentric tastes were soon to enter a more mainstream market when fashion designers like Coco Chanel, Helena Rubenstein, and Elsa Schiaparelli chose to market the "new concept of Chic" by producing stage salon shows and fashions that were marked by a baroque extravagance (79-81).24 This renewed interest in the baroque was also evident in the theater and ballet of the period. For example, the entrepreneur Seregei Diaghilev greatly influenced the look of the Ballets Russes, reigniting a concern for the spectacle of the baroque through the inclusion of exotic costumes of baroque design, baroque settings, and spectacular firework displays traditionally associated with seventeenth-century theater.25 In the United States, the young film industry began a love affair with baroque flair and monumentality. The sets, costumes, themes and designs of grand Hollywood epics like Intolerance (Griffith 1926), Queen Kelly (von Stroheim 1928), The Scarlet Empress (von Sternberg 1934), and Don Juan (Crosland 1926) (whose interiors were modeled on those of the Davanzanti palace in Florence) reiterated the spectacular grandeur of baroque style (Calloway 1994, 52-59). According to Calloway, the "visual richness of film culture" and the evident success of the star system by the 1920s shifted the cinema's evocation of fantasy and glamour off the screen and onto the private lives of its stars and the public sphere they inhabited (56). Film culture nurtured an environment that allowed baroque form to infiltrate the space of the city (specifically Hollywood and Beverly Hills). A baroque opulence the likes of which had never been seen since the seventeenth century soon exploded, and what came to be known as the "Hollywood style" emerged. Following the likes of stars like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, whose palatial abode, Pickfair, was constructed on the outskirts of Hollywood, a spate of movie moguls and film stars commissioned grand mansions that often explicitly imitated the seventeenth-century palazzi of European
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aristocrats and monarchs. The designs of Hollywood picture palaces followed suit. An aristocratic style was reborn to herald a new aristocracy, one engendered by the Hollywood film industry. The most famous fantasy mansion of the period was, of course, William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon (figure I.2). Adorned with booty plundered from throughout Europe, this mansion (which approached the size of a city) also included a cinema in the style of Louis XIV (57). The monarchs in this new Hollywood aristocracy were the movie stars and media moguls, and they asserted their power and starlike qualities through a baroque visual splendor. The cultural space of Los Angeles was imbued with a new identity, one that would resurge with a revised fervor at the end of the century, when the neo-baroque was to become canonized within a radically different cultural context.26

The Latin American and Spanish Neo-Baroque Omar Calabrese (1992), Peter Wollen (1993), Mario Perniola (1995), and Christina DegliEsposti (1996a, 1996b, 1996c) have evaluated (from different perspectives) the affinities that exist between the baroque-or, rather, the neo-baroque-and the postmodern. It is as a formal quality of the postmodern that the neo-baroque has gained a stability that emerges from a wider cultural context. Initially, the strongest connection between the postmodern and the baroque emerged in the context of Latin American literature, art,27 and criticism, in particular, in the writings of the Cuban author Severo Sarduy, who consciously embraced the baroque as a revolutionary form, one capable of countering the dominance of capitalism and socialism (Sarduy 1975; Beverley 1988, 29). From the 1950s, in Latin America, the baroque was revisited as the neo-baroque, becoming a significant political form in the process. Particularly in literature, the seventeenth-century baroque's obsessive concerns with illusionism and the questionable nature of reality was adapted to a new cultural context, becoming a formal strategy that could be used to contest the "truth" of dominant ideologies and issues of identity, gender, and "reality" itself. Generally, literary historians have associated the Latin American neo-baroque with the rise of the metafictional new-historicist novel that flourished during the boom period (1960s1970s) and particularly in the postboom period of the 1980s. Although which authors are to be considered part of the boom period and which are part of the postboom is much debated, the tendency to equate both (and in particular the latter)

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Click image for detailed view.

Figure I.2 William Randolph Hearst's California estate, San Simeon. By permission of The Kodak Collection. with the neo-baroque is a point rarely debated. Novels such as Fernando del Paso's Noticias del Imperio (1987), Roa Bastos's Yo, el Supremo (1975), and Carlos Fuentes's Terra Nostra ( 1976) are viewed as simultaneously emerging from a postmodern context and as reflecting neo-baroque formal concerns (Thomas 1995, 170). Emphasizing the radical and experimental possibilities inherent in baroque form (as also outlined in the writings of Buci-Glucksman and Jay), Latin American writers such as Luis Borges, Severo
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Sarduy, Fernando del Paso, Jose Lezama Lima, Alejo Carpentier, and Carlos Fuente developed a deconstructive style that owed a great deal to philosophical writings of theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Fredric Jameson. Embracing the postmodern, these novelists also consciously melded theoretical concerns with stylistic strategies adapted from the seventeenth-century baroque tradition: the instability and untrustworthiness of "reality" as a "truth"; the concern with simulacra; motifs like the labyrinth as emblem of multiple voices or layers of meaning; and an inherent self reflexivity and sense for the virtuosic performance. The movement that emerged as a result came to be known as the neo-baroque.28 Additionally, many of the writings of these authors also invested in a Bakhtinian concern with the carnivalesque, intertextuality, dialogic discourse, and "heteroglossic, multiple narrative voices"; as Peter Thomas states, in all, a "neobaroque verbal exuberance . . . [and] . . . delirious" style ensued ( 1995, 171 ). In "The Baroque and the Neobaroque," Severo Sarduy suggests that, whereas the Latin American baroque (of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) was simply a colonial extension of the European (and, in particular, the Spanish) baroque, the neobaroque embraces a more critical stance by returning to the European (as opposed to colonial) origins (Thomas 1995, 181; Sarduy 1975, 109-115).29 The aim was to reclaim history by appropriating a period often considered to be the "original" baroque thereby rewriting the codes and "truths" imposed on Latin America by its colonizers. By reclaiming the past through the baroque form, these contemporary Latin American writers could also reclaim their history. 'The new version of history that resulted from this reclamation spoke of the elusive nature of truth, of historical "fact," of "reality," of identity and sexuality. According to the neo-baroque, truth and reality was always beyond the individual's grasp. In Spain, the baroque transformed along similar formal lines, becoming associated in the second half of the twentieth century with the literature of the period and with postmodernism. Freeing themselves from the oppressive censorship of the Franquist regime, in the 1960s and 1970s Spanish writers began to experiment with modernist and antirealist literary styles.30 Critics labeled the emerging Spanish style, which was influenced by the Latin American boom authors who had deliberately embraced the styles and concerns of Golden Age writers such as Miguel de Cervantes and Calderon de la Barca, "baroque" or, more often, "neo-baroque" (Zatlin 1994, 30; Overesch 1981, 19). Following the lead of many Latin American authors, Spanish writers such as Jose Vidal Cadellan, Maria Moix, Jose Maria Castellet, Manuel Ferrand, and Juan Goytisolo adopted stylistic features integral to seventeenth-century Spanish baroque literature.31 Francisco Ayala's El Rapto (1965), for example, retells one of the stories recounted in Cervantes's Don Quixote. Reflecting on the layered nature of the baroque, Ayala travels back in time to the seventeenth century to comment on Spain of the present, particularly on the "disorientation pervading contemporary Spanish society" under the post-Franco regime (Orringer 1994, 47). As with the Latin American neobaroque, particular features of a baroque poetics emerged:32 minimal or lack of concern with plot development and a preference for a multiple and fragmented structure that recalls the form of a labyrinth; open rather than closed form; a complexity and layering evident, for example, in the merging of genres and literary forms such as poetry and the novel; a world in which dream and reality are indistinguishable; a view of the illusory nature of the world-a world as theater; a virtuosity
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revealed through stylistic flourish and allusion; and a sell-reflexivity that requires active audience engagement (Overesch 1981, 26-60).33 For these Latin American and Spanish writers, the neo-baroque became a potent weapon that could counteract the mainstream: They embraced the neo-baroque for its inherent avant-garde properties.34 The contemporary neo-baroque, on the other hand, finds its voice within a mainstream market and, like the seventeenth-century baroque, directs its seduction to a mass audience. The Spatial Aspect of the Cultural System In recent decades, the neo-baroque has inserted its identity into diverse areas of the arts, continuing restlessly to move on to new metamorphic states and contexts, nurtured by a culture that is attracted to the visual and sensorial seductiveness integral to baroque form. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, we have experienced the reemergence and evolution of the baroque into a more technologically informed method of expression. A baroque mentality has again become crystallized on a grand scale within the context of contemporary culture. The spectacular illusionism and affective charge evident in Pietro da Cortona's ceiling painting of The Glorification of Urban VIII (Palazzo Barberini, Rome, 16331639), the virtuosic spatial illusions painted by Andrea Pozzo in the Church of S. Ignazio (Rome, 1691-1694) (figure I.3),

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Figure I.3 Andrea Pozzo, The Glory of S. Ignazio (detail) Chruch of S. Ignazio, Rome, 16911694. © Photo Vasari, Rome. the seriality and intertextual playfulness of Cervantes's Don Quixote (1605 and 1615), and the exuberant and fantastic reconstruction of Versailles under Louis XIV have metamorphosed and adjusted to a new historical and cultural context. Specifically, I follow the lead of Omar Calabrese (1992), Peter Wollen (1993), and Mario Perniola (1995), all of whom understand (from different perspectives) the neo-baroque and the postmodern as kindred spirits. Although I recognize the multiple and conflicting theoretical responses to the postmodern condition, however,35 postmodern debates do not constitute the primary concern of this book. A specifically neo-baroque poetics embedded within the postmodern is my primary point of reference. Although some postmodern tropes and theories underpin the analysis to follow, I am not concerned with reiterating the immense body of literature and analysis that has already been articulated so admirably by numerous writers, including pioneers like Fredric Jameson, Jean Lyotard, Robert Venturi,36 Jean Baudrillard, Perry Anderson, and Steven Best and Douglas Kellner. It is within the context of the postmodern that the neo-baroque has regained a stability that not only is found in diverse examples of entertainment media cultures but has exploded beyond the elite or marginalized confines of
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The Baroque and Neo-Baroque

eccentric European aristocrats, Hollywood film stars, and closed literary circles and into our social spaces. That which distinguishes earlier phases of the twentieth-century baroque from its current guise is the reflexive desire to revisit the visuality associated with the era of the historical baroque. The "baroque baroque" deliberately reintroduced variations of seventeenthcentury fashion, theatrical, and architectural designs, grand-scale spectacle, and baroque historical narratives in the context of the cinema, theater, and ballet. The Latin American and Spanish neo-baroque emerged from a conscious effort on the part of writers to manipulate seventeenth-century baroque techniques for contemporary, avant-garde purposes. The late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century expression of the neo-baroque emerges from radically different conditions. As was the case with the seventeenth-century baroque, the current expression of the neo-baroque has literally emerged as a result of systemic and cultural transformations, which are the result of the rise of conglomeration, multimedia interests, and new digital technology. Cultural transformation has given birth to neo-baroque form. The neo-baroque articulates the spatial, the visual, and the sensorial in ways that parallel the dynamism of seventeenth-century baroque form, but that dynamism is expressed in guises that are technologically different from those of the seventeenth-century form. In the last three decades in particular, our culture has been seduced by visual forms that are, reliant on baroque perceptual systems: systems that sensorially engage the spectator in ways that suggest a more complete and complex parallel between our own era and the seventeenth-century baroque. In this respect, my concern is with broader issues and general tendencies that give rise to dominant cultural sensibilities. As history has shown us, human nature being what it is, we cannot resist the drive to locate and label such dominant sensibilities: baroque, Renaissance, medieval, modernist, postmodernist. Underlying all such categories is a desire to reduce and make comprehensible the complex and dynamic patterns and forces that constitute culture. In his study of German baroque tragedy, Benjamin raises a significant query with regard to issues of categorization, in particular, the typing of "historical types and epochs" such as the Gothic, the Renaissance, and the baroque (1998, 41). The problem for the historian lies in homogenizing the cultural phenomena (and, indeed, the culture) specific to different historical epochs: As ideas, however, such names perform a service they are not able to perform as concepts: they do not make the similar identical, but they effect a synthesis between extremes. Although it should be stated that conceptual analysis, too, does not invariably encounter totally heterogeneous phenomena, and it can occasionally reveal the outlines of a synthesis. (41) Systematization of cultural phenomena need not preclude variety. Likewise, categorization of dominant and recurring patterns need not reflect the revelation of a static cultural zeitgeist. The value of historical labeling and searching for a synthesis of dominant forcesranging from the thematic, to the stylistic, to the social-is that it enables critical reflection. As Benjamin notes, the "world of philosophical thought" may unravel only through the articulation and description of "the world of ideas" (43). Like Benjamin, I do not seek to
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cultures and worlds of knowledge" including areas as diverse as art.edu/transition/subs/neo_intro. xi). televisual serial structures. Gilles Deleuze. and the hybrid alien or monstrous hero are. and Jose Maravall. . however. or static boundaries (5). social. is interested in the baroque as a cultural phenomenon that emerges from a specific historical situation. Peter Wollen. Antonio Maravall observed that it is possible to "establish certain relations between external. In recent years. philosophers. and philosophy (Conley 1993. Francesco Guardini. in any field of human endeavour" (1983. Maravall. closed. therefore. unified framework of analysis that explains aesthetic sensibilities. and system in favour of instability. catastrophe theory. Likewise. who is concerned with the seventeenth century. have explored the formal. xii). that the baroque is not merely a specific period in the history of cultures situated within the seventeenth century. . Maravall also. and change" (1992.html (16 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:10] . [Therefore] it is also possible [to] speak of a baroque at any given time. "many important cultural phenomena of our time are distinguished by a specific internal `form' that recalls the baroque" in the shape of rhythmic. in his historical and cultural study of the seventeenth-century Spanish baroque." Calabrese suggests that space must have a border: http://web.The Baroque and Neo-Baroque defend the methodological foundation that underlies the arguments in this book. and critical theorists. The protean forms that he locates in blockbuster films. 4-5). His approach is a productive one. and other such "new sciences" reflect similar fluid transformations that contest prior scientific "norms" (171-172). Deleuze understood the baroque in its broadest terms "as radiating through histories. Recognizing. totality. dynamic structures that have no respect for rigid. purely formal elements of the baroque in seventeenth-century Europe and elements present in very different historical epochs in unrelated cultural areas. polydimensionality. Dissatisfied with postmodernism as a consistent. For Calabrese. According to Calabrese. draw attention to my reservations with "zeitgeisting" and reducing the complex and dynamic processes in operation in cultural formations to simplistic and reductive conceptual observations. and I hope that what follows does not travel that path. Following Yuri Lotman's organization of knowledge according to "the spatial aspect of the cultural system. 14). and historical constituents of the baroque and neo-baroque. including Omar Calabrese. . The formal manifestations of the baroque across cultural and chronological confines also concern Omar Calabrese in his Neo-Baroque: A Sign of the Times (1992). neo-baroque forms "display a loss of entirety. a number of historians. While exploring distinct centuries that have sets of cultural phenomena particular to their specific historical situations. mathematics.mit. (though with greater focus than Maravall on the twentieth century). costume design. Calabrese suggests that the neo-baroque offers a productive formal model with which to characterize the transformations of cultural objects of our epoch (1992. it is nevertheless possible to identify and describe a certain morphology of the baroque that is more fluid and is not confined to one specific point in history. privileges a sense of the baroque that encompasses the breadth of cultural diversity across chronological confines. Mario Perniola. Calabrese explores the baroque as a general attitude and formal quality that crosses the boundaries of historical periodization. I do. placed (briefly) within a broader cultural sphere in which chaos theory. science. however. like Maravall before him. in turn.

edu/transition/subs/neo_intro.mit.html (30 of 30) [2007-06-28 02:12:10] .The Baroque and Neo-Baroque http://web.

"The Fellow Keaton Seems to Be the Whole Show': The Interrupted Performance in Buster Keaton's Films". "Historical Poetics and the Popular Cinema. For example. and across disciplinary perspectives. which appeared in Andrew Horton's Buster Keaton's Sherlock Junior. and change. This approach was developed by David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson as they applied and adapted the ideas of the Russian formalists to study cinema. which seeks to map the aesthetic norms and implicit assumptions that shaped the production of media texts at particular historical junctures. exploring the different performance strategies that emerge at different moments in Buster Keaton's career to negotiate between competing aesthetic norms. In a later essay. HISTORICAL POETICS Much of my early work dealt with points of intersection between different media.edu/cms/People/henry3/compare.html (1 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:16:03] . I go back to an earlier period of interaction between popular theater and cinema. across national borders. My essay. though I did not yet have a fully developed understanding of what comparative media studies might look like.Henry Jenkins COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES Comparative Media Studies represents a new paradigm in media scholarship.comparative across media. I outline and expand upon their framing of historical poetics.mit. context. across historical periods." published in Mark Jancovich's Approaches to the Popular Cinema. This research was informed by an approach. known as historical poetics. http://web. I explore what aspects of the vaudeville style could work in the context of classical Hollywood narrative and which were rejected and reworked as cinema restabilized its own norms after the end of that transitional period. In this book. suggesting its relevance to a larger understanding of popular aesthetics and the politics of taste cultures. What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic dealt with the development of a new aesthetics of popular performance in vaudeville which had an enormous impact on film comedy as Broadway performers were recruited by Hollywood in order help make the transition from silent to sound cinema. It is comparative in multiple senses -. one which merges together the best conceptual models from a range of different disciplines to address issues of media content. my book.

Another recent essay. audience activism. producers." which appeared in David Lavery's Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks.twinpeaks. "Nintendo and New World Narrative. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars? Parody and Appropriation in an Age of Cultural Convergence".Henry Jenkins Several of my Technology Review columns have dealt with the ways that digital media are altering more traditional forms of communication. The Trickster Author.edu/cms/People/henry3/compare. and texts. the performance of filk or fan music.tv. redefine the relations between audience. explored the ways that fans of Twin Peaks employed the internet to expand the resources available to them for deciphering the mystery of Who Killed Laura Palmer.. COMPARATIVE APPROACHES TO MEDIA AUDIENCES A different strand of my research dealt with the intersection between media systems from an audience studies perspective. I draw on Pierre Levy's concept of collective intelligence to examine the ways fans use computers in relation to other media to expand opportunities for critical dialogue." which first appeared in Steve Jones' Communications in Cyberspace. and the Broadway musical. dealt with the ways television fans utilized media content as a resource for alternative forms of cultural production. "Culture Goes Global" uses the production and circulation of global fusion music to make some predictions about new kinds of culture which are likely to emerge as the net expands points of contact between different national cultures.." developed in response to early 20th century media forms such as the comic strip. My book." "Art Form for the Digital Age" uses Gilbert Seldes's concept of the "lively arts. we argue that spatial stories represent an understudied aesthetic tradition that displaces issues of narrative causality and character development in favor of spatial exploration. and cultural production and distribution and in the process. Another column. represents a dialogue with Renaissance scholar Mary Fuller which compares new world travel writing and computer games as two different forms of spatial stories. "Do You Enjoy Making the Rest of Us Feel Stupid?: alt.mit. Here. including the writing of fan fiction. the Hollywood film. which will appear in Bart Cheever and Nick Constant's http://web. and Viewer Mastery. I returned to this same issue of on-line communities and fan reception almost a decade later with "Interactive Audiences?" Here.html (2 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:16:03] . I have subsequently traced the ways this same community makes use of digital media. and the editing of fan videos. dealing with emerging concepts of interactive television in "TV Tomorrow" or shifting conceptions of journalism in ". to propose ways of thinking about the aesthetic status of computer games.

For example. characters. I am dealing with the flow of content -. a greater emphasis on the particularity of specific case studies which are nevertheless understood within a larger context. and film and across different historical periods. a commitment to language which makes these ideas more accessible to a broader public. I examine what gets embraced and what gets left behind when television content is transformed into the basis for interactive entertainment. the Hop on Pop project was intended to focus attention on new methodological and conceptual models for studying the politics and pleasures of popular culture. noting the ways that Star Trek games excludes aspects of the series metatext which sustained the interests and participation of its female fans. In "Before the Holodeck: Tracing Star Trek Through Digital Media. In a manifesto . and an awareness of the interplay between global and local factors." which appeared in Marsha Kinder's Kids Media Culture.from one media system to another." co-authored with Janet Murray and first appearing in Greg Smith's On A Silver Platter: CD-Roms and the Promises of a New Technology." co-authored with Jane Shattuc and Tara McPherson. expressing pleasure in the more immersive opportunities for play with Star Trek introduced by games. "The All-American Handful: Dennis the Menace. METHODOLOGY In recent years. Once again. Murray approaches this question from an aesthetic perspective. we make a case for the emergence of a new perspective." which first appeared in Lynn Spigel and Mike Curtin's The Revolution Wasn't Televised: Sixties Television and Social Conflict. "The Culture That Sticks to the Skin: Towards a New Paradigm in Cultural Studies. traced the evolution of a "bad boy" character as he migrates from the comics to television. one born of a closer affective relationship to popular culture. I have been called upon to develop overview essays that synthesize significant new theoretical and methodological developments.html (3 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:16:03] . MIGRATORY CHARACTERS AND NARRATIVE "Her Suffering Aristocratic Majesty': The Sentimental Value of Lassie.edu/cms/People/henry3/compare. I focus on moments when the ownership of the remarkable collie shifts since these moments are often occasions for articulating the value of dogs and the kinds of investments which they owners make in them. ideas -.stories. television.tracing the migration of a popular fictional character across books. Permissive Childrearing and the Bad Boy Tradition. deals with the ways that Star Wars fans have made use of the emerging resources of digital cinema to talk back to the Hollywood blockbuster.mit. An earlier version of this http://web.Henry Jenkins d-Film anthology. where-as I tackle the question from the point of view of meaning and interpretation. offers another approach to comparative media studies -. Similarly.

" co-authored with David Thorburn for our book. Specifically. "Reception Theory and Audience Research: The Mystery of the Vampire's Kiss. The essay specifically addresses both political changes and aesthetic changes brought about through the introduction of new communication and information technologies into pre-existing social and cultural contexts." appeared as the forward to a special issue of Continuum. In both Continuum and in Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture. I describe four important dimensions of the emerging digital theory -. attempts to demonstrate how a comparative and historically informed approach might help us to better understand the process of media change.html (4 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:16:03] .the shifting relationship between academic and vernacular theories of digital change.mit. "Media in Transition: An Introduction. Media in Transition. http://web. the concept of critical utopianism as a way of using future prediction to critique present conditions. "Cultural Studies: The Next Generation.edu/cms/People/henry3/compare. revisits core issues in theorizing the cinematic audience and ends with the suggestion that such accounts are limited if they do not fully address a new media environment where film may be consumed through many different communication channels and where film content intersects with other media content in many different ways. In "The Work of Theory in the Age of Digital Transformation. I offer an overview and critique of developments in digital theory suggesting the ways that it resembles or differs from earlier forms of media theory. and the use of digital media to revitalize the study of previous media and to examine points of intersection between media. we brought together more than 40 essays by young and established cultural scholars which demonstrate these new approaches at work." published in Toby Miller and Robert Stam's A Companion to Film Theory." which appeared in Christine Gledhill and Linda William's Reinventing Film Theory.Henry Jenkins manifesto.

makes the case for a new mode of media theory which reflects the opportunities and challenges of the media age. In "Convergence? I Diverge. A whole range of new technologies enable consumers to archive. economic. these technologies have altered the ways that consumers interact with core institutions of government.which are redefining our media environment. Central to this argument is a consideration of the ways that digital change is provoking theorizing not only with the academy but across all of those sectors being reshaped by the new media and an urge for academic theory to move beyond the classroom to engage in a larger public conversation about those changes. "The Work of Theory in the Age of Digital Transformation". consume. presented at the Post-Innocence: Narrative Textures and New Media Conference at the University of Technology Sydney. published in Toby Miller and Robert Stam's A Companion to Film Theory. appropriate." co-authored with David Thorburn. aesthetic. and global -.Henry Jenkins MEDIA CONVERGENCE We are living in an age when changes in communications. organic. media convergence. to describe the full context of media change.html (1 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:16:37] ." one of my Technology Review columns. annotate. I offer a basic overview of different kinds of convergences -. learn. Australia in 1998. I developed a series of forums http://web. and recirculate media content and in the process. storytelling and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life -. education. and interact with each other. represented another attempt to define the place of the humanities as a means of responding to the challenges of the changing media environment and includes some ideas about theorizing the process of media change which are developed more fully in "Media in Transition: An Introduction.including how we create. OVERVIEWS I have increasingly come to prefer the term. It is a good starting point for understanding much of my other recent writing on this topic. which emerged in the 1920s as part of a larger effort to promote popular access to information on scientific discovery and technological innovation.mit.technological. One important discourse on media change has come through science fiction. and commerce.edu/cms/People/henry3/converge. "From Home[r] to the Holodeck".

with varying degrees of competency or mastery. I have argued that cultural convergence has preceded. which will be published in xx.mit. I first introduced the concept of "cultural convergence" in "The Stormtroopers and The Poachers. James Patrick Kelly. Transcripts of these conversations with Gregory Benford. Specifically. Joe Haldeman.Henry Jenkins involving contemporary science fiction writers discussing the key themes of media change underlying their work. I wrote an introduction to Kurt Lancaster's Interacting with Babylon 5 that explains how Babylon 5 might be read as symptomatic of this larger process of media and cultural convergence. cultural convergence describes the new ways that media audiences are engaging with and making sense of these new forms of media content. the full technological realization of the idea of media convergence. I explore how the knowledge culture of fandom is transformed through the use of networked communications and how the new media alter reader's relations to texts. can be used to describe the kinds of technological and economic changes which are fostered the flow of media content across multiple delivery technologies. I trace various ways that the media industries are responding to the challenges of a more participatory culture. Octavia Butler. some of the core concepts to emerge from the class. media convergence. explores how Pierre Levy's Collective Intelligence might shed light on the behavior of media audiences in this new era. I provided an overview on the relationship of science fiction and media change intended as an introduction to the various transcripts entitled "Media and Imagination: A Short History of American Science Fiction. helping to create a market for these new cultural products. Orson Scott Card. "Interactive Audiences?". I am currently developing a book proposal exploring more fully how these various forms of media convergence are impacting contemporary popular culture. CULTURAL CONVERGENCE If the phrase." a talk which I gave at the University of Michigan which was transcribed for circulation of Philip Agre's Red Rock Eater News mailing list. I later fleshed out that essay more fully for an anthology on cult audiences which will be published in Paris next year. Ellen Kushner. Watch this space for more news as the book develops.edu/cms/People/henry3/converge. I developed an MIT course on Popular Culture in the Age of Media Convergence. Frederick Pohl. An important aspect of this site are the various student critiques of contemporary media product which display. Allen Steele and Sarah Zettel can be found on the Media in Transition website. and to each other. to media producers. in many ways." With Christopher Weaver. http://web. The syllabus of that course is on-line and provides a good reading list for anyone wanting to know more about this topic.html (2 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:16:37] .

I was asked to develop a festival of fan-made films to be shown at the Walker Art Institute and to develop program notes explaining my choices. and legal institutions respond to the destabilization created by media change.explaining how the early history of radio as a participatory medium might shed light on our current period of media transition. the emergence of new youth cultures in cyberspace ("The Kids are Alright Online"). In "The Director Next Door. resulting in an enormous grassroots movement of Star Wars parodies.for both better and worse -. As a result of this essay. the emergence of new forms of global culture ("Culture Goes Global"). cultural. ranging from the use of digital cameras in film production or digital projection in film exhibition to the use of the web as a delivery system for films.html (3 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:16:37] . the potentials of interactive television ("TV Tomorrow"). the production of knowledge in an information rich environment ("Information Cosmos").as the social. one being transformed -. DIGITAL CINEMA I have become increasingly interested in studying new aesthetic forms that have emerged in response to the potentials of digital media. political. "Contacting the Past." which will appear in Bart Cheever and Nick Constant's d. film anthology." can be understood as part of this same strand in my writing -.Henry Jenkins THE DIGITAL RENAISSANCE Across a range of journalistic pieces.").. I explore the intersection between commercial and amateur media making more fully in "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Parody and Appropriation in an Age of Cultural Convergence.edu/cms/People/henry3/converge. Here. and the impact of digital media on our understanding of intellectual property ("Digital Land Grab. Our Digital Cinema conference explored many different aspects of this topic. I have developed these concepts of media and cultural convergence to describe the present moment as a kind of Renaissance culture. I explore how the development of the web as a distribution channel might empower amateur filmmakers not only to make new kinds of films but also to reach new audiences. One such area of interest is digital cinema.mit.. Among the topics I have addressed have been digital media's impact on Journalism ("." one of my Technology Review columns. Digital cinema can refer to many different things. mostly published in Technology Review.") Although not published in Technology Review. I argue that Star Wars functioned as a "catalyst" encouraging fans to embrace the potentials of digital production and distribution. I briefly discuss here the ways that commercial media is starting to recruit media makers and content from the web. COMPUTER GAMES I became interested in computer and video games more than a decade ago when my http://web.

which I co-edited with Justine Cassell. the issue isn't whether games should be redesigned to attract women but why decisions are being made to cut back on aspects of existing material which has already proven successful http://web. Using Star Trek as a case study. I have recently returned to reconsider the relationship between space and narrative in ".and in ". I took a more social historical approach to game space in "Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered Playspace" in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. which thinks about game design as a form of informational architecture which provides the preconditions for emergent and embedded forms of storytelling.edu/cms/People/henry3/converge. "Before the Holodeck: Tracing Star Trek Through Digital Media". I hosted an MIT conference which brought women in the games industry to campus to explore the then emerging "girls game" movement and to engage in dialogue with academic feminists who had written on this topic. Another important aspect of my interest in games centered around the challenges of expanding the diversity of games content in order to attract more girls to gameplaying. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games."." published in Technology Review.. seeking to complicate easy ideological judgements about the value of these new kinds of software for girls.". I make the case that games are a new "lively art.. "x Logic: Placing Nintendo in Children's Lives." an exhibition of games as art at London's Barbican Art Center. and explore what we might learn about game aesthetics through analogies to the silent cinema.mit. showing an alternative version of digital feminism which focused on empowering women to do combat with men in digital playspaces rather than designing more traditionally feminine kinds of games.html (4 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:16:37] . In "Art Form for the Digital Age.. "Nintendo and New World Narrative.. Here. coauthored with Janet Murray for Greg Smith's On A Silver Platter." which sought to review an emerging body of scholarly literature on games and to stress the importance of atmospheric design and spatial narrative to this emerging medium. A short time later. tackles the challenge of designing games for women from a different angle. Our introductory essay.. I argue that those aspects of the original television series that attract female consumers have been systematically stripped away as the franchise was translated into video and computer game formats...Henry Jenkins son purchased his first Nintendo. I argued that a comparison between traditional gendered play spaces and computer games might shed light on the challenge of developing games which might appeal equally to girls and to boys. "Voices From the Combat Zone" brought together online writings by women gameplayers. I built on that concept of spatial storytelling through a dialogic essay.. These ideas are fleshed out more fully in "." along the lines outlined by Gilbert Seldes in the 1920s." which I co-authored with Mary Fuller and which appeared in Steve Jones's Communicating in Cyberspace. an essay which will appear in . I wrote my first essay. grew out of that conference..". The book.. an essay developed in conjunction with "Game On. "Chess For Girls?" explores the contradictions which surround the girls game movement. Here.

More than 400 pages of transcripts of that event have been posted on the web and constitute an important resource for anyone who wants to understand the current state and future direction of the games industry.mit. My favorite stories to date include a far reaching interview with Kurt Squire in Joystick 101. my work has gained a great deal of attention within the games press and general interest publications alike. and Siggraph. I have increasingly sought to engage in a larger dialogue with people in the games industry about the current state and future potential of games as a medium. and . to explore issues of character. We have helped to organize a series of workshops and presentations at such industry gatherings as the Games Developers Conference. E3 (The Electronic Entertainment Exposition). emotion. and community and to point towards some new directions for game design. In collaboration with the Interactive Digital Software association. http://web.html (5 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:16:37] . Our task is to make the case for games as a potential instructional and simulation platform and to develop prototypes of how one might combine state of the art game play with MIT quality science and engineering instruction. narrative.. a leader in the games industry. I have organized a series of creative leaders workshops with Electronic Arts.. bringing together leading game designers and game critics (academic and journalistic) for a two day conversation about the medium.Henry Jenkins in engaging female consumers. We are currently working with Microsoft to explore the potential use of game for learning. As we have taken this conversation about games into the public sphere.. Through the Comparative Media Studies program. which have helped to enlarge the industry conversation about games. a conversation on games and violence in Gamasutra.edu/cms/People/henry3/converge. I helped to organize the first national academic conference on video and computer games.

in "Reception Theory and Audience Research: The Mystery of the Vampire's Kiss". Reinventing Film Theory. forces us to be more accountable for the claims that we make about media consumption and interpretation. Audience research seeks to directly engage with empirical audiences in order to better factor their experiences and perspectives into its accounts.. the value of psychoanalysis for discussing fan cultures. OVERVIEWS I offered an overview of the methods and theoretical models surrounding audience research.). In some cases. which first appeared in Enterprise Zones. I use Thelma and Louise as a case study for examining how audience researches have looked at aspects of the text. the problematic analogy between fandom and religion. since it still reads the audience through some theoretical framework which makes some aspects visible but may blind us to others. and the other with Matt Hills. the relationship between fandom and academia. Anyone who wants to better understand my own approach to audience research might start with two lengthy published conversations.mit. The Intensities dialogue represents an exchange between two generations of fan researchers on such topics as the impact of media convergence on fan culture. those assumptions emerge through introspection or through reading audiences as if they were products of formal and ideological structures of texts or through borrowing models from psychology or. and interpretive communities to map the reception process. one with Taylor Harrison. which appeared in Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams (eds. contexts of reception. Here. I try to contextualize my fan studies research and deal with the academic and personal stakes in researching the audience.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. but it opens up a dialogue between researchers and audiences and. what is important about audience research is not necessarily its ability to arrive at some truth. and end with some ideas about how what we learn from fan communities might inform academic criticism.. at least as they are applied to cinema.Henry Jenkins MEDIA CONSUMPTION All media theory makes assumptions about the nature of the media audience. if done well. which was published in Intensities. In my opinion. http://web. and the challenges of writing about and documenting the affective dimensions of fandom.html (1 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] . Across these two conversations.

knowledge. and community in a media environment that has facilitated new kinds of interactions between fans. "The Poachers and the Stormtroopers: Popular Culture in the Digital Age". or in journalism. passive. In my "Foreward" to Kurt Lancaster's Interacting With Babylon 5. When I first began studying media in graduate school. looking at the ways that media producers are creating new spaces for fans to interact with and participate within the fictional worlds of their programs. the New Identity Politics. drawing parallels between fan politics and debates among http://web. I explore what performance studies might contribute to our understanding of this new fan culture. I often joke that I got tired of being told to get a life and decided to write a book instead. Here. because their vision of isolated. empowered. I was enormously frustrated with academic representations of media consumption. "Interactive Audiences?. which first appeared on Red Rock Eater News and more recently has been expanded and translated into French for publication in xx. where it is still widely taught more than a decade after its original publication. I am now in negotiations with Routledge to develop an expanded and updated new addition of the book to deal with the ways that fandom has changed over the past decade as a result of networked computing and media convergence. and creative experiences as a fan. Nothing prepared me for the response to Textual Poachers either within the academy. and ideologically vulnerable consumers were so at odds with my highly social. The issue of fandom and intellectual property law also surfaces in "Digital Land Grab. offered another take on the changing status of fans. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture was that book -an attempt to map fandom as an interpretive and creative community actively appropriating the content of television for its own pleasures.Henry Jenkins STUDYING FANDOM I have been an active television and cult media fan for more than two decades. where passages of the book routinely surface as signature lines on e-mail." which appeared in Harpers. where the book has helped to reshape the ways reporters cover the fan community. maps some of those changes and suggests some new directions in my own thinking about fandom.html (2 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] . producers. engaged. John Fiske." which was published in Technology Review.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. and texts and where industry operates on an assumption of an active and potentially collaborative consumer. My work drew heavily on ideas from Michel DeCerteau's The Practice of Everyday Life and was informed by my mentor. within fandom itself. which will first appear in xx. well before I entered academic life. exploring contradictory responses to fan culture from a media industry eager to absorb aspects of fan aesthetics but uncomfortable with the image of a grassroots community of cultural producers whose use of its intellectual property can not be adequately policed. explores the political dimensions of contemporary fan culture. whose ideas about media audiences are best represented in his book. I draw on Pierre Levy's Collective Intelligence to describe the links between affect. "Fandom.mit. Television Culture.

mit.Henry Jenkins queer activists. of course. With interpretive communities. http://web. I tried to demonstrate the ways three different fan communities -.male MIT students. more accurately. or bisexual character included on the television program as a reflection of its historic commitment to the acceptance of diversity. I wanted to lend my support to a letterwriting campaign which wanted to see a gay. producing flame wars. Interpretive communities are social groups which share similar intellectual resources and patterns of making meaning. Perhaps this is because my very first essay on fan fiction. dealt with Star Trek as its primary case study.interacted with Star Trek. meanings are debated and over time. and their forms of social interaction and cultural production. Rewritten". Interpretive communities become especially visible in net discourse when they collide with each other. INTERPRETIVE COMMUNITIES Shaping Science Fiction Audiences was the idea that fandom constituted an interpretive community or. albeit from very different theoretical perspectives. where the core assumptions which are taken for granted by individual participants are too much at odds with each other to be tolerated. In my sections of the book. There is. Science Fiction Audiences: Star Trek. In this case. Of the case studies in the book. lesbian. Both of these essays deal with the issue of people dressing up and performing the parts of fictional characters.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. and Their Followers. which first appeared in Studies in Mass Communication. never total agreement. Textual Poachers has often been read as a book about Star Trek fans. It was not intended either as a study of Star Trek fans per se nor a totalizing account of fandom. I argue. which cuts across many different media products. their existing interests and fantasies. In fact.html (3 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] . I followed up Textual Poachers with a book that did deal with Star Trek fans. but a specific case study of a fan community. Reread. communities. forcing them to be dealt with in more explicit and often more impassioned ways. which I co-authored with John Tulloch. and the members of a queer fan club -. Doctor Who. some loose consensus emerges. female fanzine writers. It is an example of what John Hartley calls "Intervention Analysis" in which the academic researcher joins forces with the media audience for an activist purpose. Each group took something different from their encounter with the series. "Star Trek Rerun. but there appears to be some agreement about what kinds of disagreements can be tolerated and which ones throw you beyond the parameters of a particular group. their understandings of science fiction as a genre. "Out of the Closet and Into the Universe: Queers and Star Trek" has been the most widely reprinted and the most influential. among other things. depending on. Flame wars occur on fan lists. and urging us to think in new ways about what might be described as categories of cultural preference. Textual Poachers dealt with the female fanzine community. To make this point.

in "It's Not a Fairy Tale Any More!: Gender. since they tended to fold the soap opera aspects of the series into their reading of it as a mystery. We Sing: Filking and http://web. Here.mit. trying to offer detailed accounts of the process of their interpretive activities and how their interpretations of specific programs fit within the larger context of their lives. look more closely at specific forms of fan creation.tv. Here. suggesting how they drew on the program's balance of romance and action-adventure to work through contradictions and uncertainties about the place of femininity in an era where women are assuming more and more professional responsibility. I draw on children's play." which appeared in David Lavery's Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks. and artwork to reveil their attempts to work through the ambiguities surrounding Pee-Wee Herman's man-child persona. dealt with the predominantly male fans on an early internet discussion list which was preoccupied with the challenge of determining who killed Laura Palmer and had constructed a vivid image of David Lynch as a "tricky" author to justify their own intensive reading of the series. stories. A third case study.html (4 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] . For example. "If I Speak With Your Sound: Fan Music. Textual Proximity and Liminal Identification". the Trickster Author and Viewer Mastery. "Do You Enjoy Making The Rest of Us Feel Stupid?: alt. Genre. I examine a group of female fans of Beauty and the Beast. suggesting that children do not so much watch television as play with it.twinpeaks.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. Textual Poachers describes the art world of fandom in some detail. I have developed a number of case studies of specific fandoms that might be read as interpretive communities. "Going Bonkers!: Children. which appeared in Camera Obscura and "Strangers No More. written at the same time or subsequently. dealt with children as media consumers. By contrast. who transform the act of consumption into various forms of creative expression. seeing this as part of a larger process of exploring what it means to gain maturity at a time when they were making a transition from the home to kindergarten. FANS AS CULTURAL PRODUCERS One of my more significant contributions to audience research has been to shift attention from fans as meaning producers towards fans as cultural producers." which first appeared in the Journal of the University Film and Video Association and later in Textual Poachers. I demonstrated the place of genre in shaping both their evaluations of individual episodes and their expectations about where the series was likely to take them and then discuss the fragmentation and reinvention of their community when the producers "retooled" the series in an effort to attract more male viewers. again.Henry Jenkins Through the years. Beauty and the Beast. using the challenge of solving the crime to justify their speculations about interpersonal relationships. Play and Pee-Wee. Other essays. notions of genre plays a significant role." first published in Camera Obscura and later reprinted in Constance Penley and Sharon Willis's Male Trouble.

which had emerged as Hollywood made the transition to talking pictures.especially the musical -." I offer some additional thoughts about digital cinema as an alternative distribution venue for amateur and independent filmmakers. and Regional Resistance to the Talkies. In "Before the Holodeck: Tracing Star Trek Through Digital Media. In the first essay. I try to reconcile claims made about media convergence within a political economy framework with claims made about participatory culture within a cultural studies framework. In "Shall We Make It for New York or For Distribution?: Eddie Cantor.Henry Jenkins the Social Construction of the Science Fiction Fan Community. Here." which appeared in Lisa Lewis's The Adoring Audience. I used filk as a means of complicating our understanding of fan identification with series characters as well as exploring how fans used filk songs to express their ambivalent feelings about their own experiences as media consumers. I documented the repositioning of Jewish comedian http://web.html (5 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] . The challenges of documenting historical media audiences are somewhat more daunting." which will appear in Bart Cheever and Nick Constant's d-film. a genre of fan-generated folk music. In one of my Technology Review columns. I compared filk to traditional folk culture. In "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Parody and Appropriation in an Age of Cultural Convergence. Whoopee. I argued that the early talkie period exaggerated the importance of northeastern cities. What we learned was that those aspects of the series which had sustained the interests and participation of female consumers were systematically stripped aside in order to develop games that more perfectly satisfied the interests of the game industry's predominantly male demographic. In the second essay. where-as the solidification of sound cinema restored the power of hinterland markets and forced a rejection of strategies that had seemed promising only a year earlier. HISTORICAL AUDIENCES Most of the work referenced here draws on various forms of ethnographic research to map the activities of contemporary media consumers. Two of my essays can be thought to deal directly with historical media audiences and they adopt very different techniques for reconstructing those viewers. stressing its community building functions." co-authored with Janet Murray and published in Greg Smith's On a Silver Platter: CD-ROMs and the Promises of a New Technology. I examine fan contributions to the digital cinema movement. "The Director Next Door. dealt with filk.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. seeing Star Wars as both the defining example of the new transmedia corporate franchise and as the catalyst for an enormous amount of grassroots cultural production. I use what we know about fandom as an interpretive and creative community to assess the kinds of interactivity on offer in Star Trek computer and video games.mit." I draw on trade press reports and industry surveys to reconstruct a history of hinterland resistance to certain genres -. which were among the first to have theaters wired for sound.

co-edited with Justine Cassell. Everyday people develop theories to explain their own relationships to media and these theories can be as sophisticated on their own terms as those produced within the scholarly community. the three editors were active participants in an APA.. To some degree. challenging us to rethink academic assumptions about what women want from games. which regularly discussed slash and its relationship to other forms of sexual representation and we reprinted our own fannish contributions to the APA alongside other contributions. forcing us to reflect on the place of theory-making in a range of other sectors. we tried to construct the "popular memory" of the 1960s cult television series through focal group interviews of people who recalled watching the program as children. Different Bat Times: Mass Culture and Popular Memory. Here. In "The Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking: Selections from Terra Nostra Underground and Strange Bedfellows." which was co-edited with Cynthia Jenkins and Shoshanna Green and appeared in Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander's Theorizing Fandom: Fans.Henry Jenkins Eddie Cantor in response to those shifting market pressures. we introduced academic readers to various attempts by slash fans to theorize slash writing. an amateur publication." which I co-authored with Lynn Spigel for William Uricchio and Roberta Pearson's The Many Lives of the Batman. In "Voices from the Combat Zone: Game Grrlz Talk Back.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. we combined research into the contemporary reception of the series with oral history techniques. including fandom. McLaughlin challenges our conception of theory production as an exclusively academic activity. He challenges us to engage more openly with theoretical dialogue with these vernacular theorists. Here." with appeared in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. VERNACULAR THEORY My thinking about fandom has been tremendously influenced by Thomas McLaughlin's Street Smarts and.. I reprinted essays about gender and computer games which first appeared on a range of fan websites. Subculture and Identity.html (6 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] .mit. the self-proclaimed "game grrls" offered a significant critique of the ideological assumptions shaping the "girls game" movement. MEDIA LITERACY My interest in media audiences has led me in recent years to become more outspoken in advocating the development of media literacy resources for our schools. I have taken up his challenge in two different published works. Here. reading recent responses as illustrating the processes by which personal and collective experiences are transformed and mythologized through memory. this activism has been inspired by my disgust at the easy fit between media effects research (which often ascribes little or no agency to consumers) and the kinds http://web. In "Same Bat Channel.

school administrators.S. The Columbine Massacre and the moral panic that followed forced me to pay greater attention to this issue. As part of a school outreach effort. The shifts in my thinking about media literacy education can be traced across several of my essays. which appeared in Independent School.mit. which would research children as media users and get that information out to concerned policy-makers. which was published in Radical Teachers. This research should then shape classroom activities that help to encourage creative and ethically responsible uses of media technologies.Henry Jenkins of moral panic generated by cultural warriors in Washington and elsewhere. I wrote two essays. I am currently in the process of developing a research team. and others. along with Justine Cassell. I engaged in debates with moral reformer David Grossman and conversations with journalist Jon Katz about Columbine and media violence.html (7 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] . psychologists. constantly testing media discourse against their own perceptions of the world. which appeared in The College Board Review. It needs to start with a keen awareness of children's existing uses of new media technologies and the place of popular culture in the formation of their personal and subcultural identities. consuming and producing media texts. Senate Commerce Committee and my essay. Both countered widespread claims that media violence had inspired the recent wave of school shootings. discusses my skepticism about the myth of childhood innocence underlying much media literacy education and proposes a more radical approach which empowers children to critique and rewrite media texts. In addition. In response to requests that I provide some model for how parents can develop better http://web. constantly reworking or appropriating it for their own uses. and Sherry Turkle. drawing on insights from audience research to offer a more complex account of the place of violent entertainment in the lives of contemporary teens. Mitchell Resnick. as might be suggested by my testimony before the U. and "The Uses and Abuses of Popular Culture: Raising Children in the Digital Age". "Professor Jenkins Goes to Washington" which was written in response to that experience. teachers.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume. My own research has shown media audiences to be active. I had stayed away from media literacy education because most of it has been developed with the goal of shaping student's tastes and operates on the assumption that media is doing bad things to us. we produced a study guide for teachers to use to discuss contemporary media developments with their students. "Lessons From Littleton: What Congress Doesn't Want to Hear About Youth and Media". critical. "Empowering Children in the Digital Age: Towards a Radical Media Pedagogy". I wanted to rethink media literacy as a set of skills which includes both reading and writing.

mit. using it as an entry point into thinking about the psychological and social roots of moral panic and generational conflict. librarians. "It's The Only Thing I Have Complete Control Over: Teen's Use of the Web. I wrote "The Monsters Next Door: A Father-Son Conversation about Buffy. parents groups." These activities suggest the potential value of audience research for framing policy debates about media literacy education and youth access to digital technologies.edu/cms/People/henry3/consume." which also inspired one of my Technology Review columns. "The Kids Are Alright Online. Moral Panic and Generational Differences" as a dialogic essay with my son about one of our favorite television shows. and civil liberties organizations how teens were currently making use of web technologies. I also developed a talk which sought to explain to journalists.Henry Jenkins communication with their children about popular culture. http://web.html (8 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:16:56] .

causality.Henry Jenkins . and that the program's "Ket"-like aesthetic enabled children to express a cultural identity distinct from their parent's demands upon them. unstructured and exploratory) rather than games (which are structured. and linear plot development http://web. when I was a graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison. the creation of children's culture represents the central arena through which we construct our fantasies about the future and a battleground through which we struggle to express competing ideological agendas. Extending these arguments. produced as part of an independent study under the direction of John Fiske. We argue that certain kinds of narratives lack the focus on characterization. economic. Male Trouble. and/or about children. by.htm (1 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:17:13] . "Going Bonkers!" appeared initially in Camera Obscura but was reprinted in the book. COMPUTER GAMES Several of my projects have involved looking at computer games. and rule-bound). The essay argues that children's characteristic engagement with television content involves play (which is spontaneous. moral or sexual concerns. Play. CHILDREN AS MEDIA CONSUMERS "Going Bonkers!': Children.mit. Children's culture is not "innocent" of adult political. Rather. "x Logic" was a review of Marsha Kinder's Playing With Power and Eugene Provenzo's Video Kids: Making Sense of Nintendo but also includes some original analysis of the spatial rather than narrative-focus of video games and the ways that gameplaying fits within children's everyday lives.edu/cms/People/henry3/children. and Pee-Wee" represents my earliest writing on children's culture. The essay used as its starting point a "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" party for my son and his kindergarten age friends. that the kindergarten age students used Pee-Wee's ambiguous age status to explore their own mixed feelings about leaving home and going to school. goal-oriented." a concept derived from the work of Michel de Certeau. which represent one of the most important new forms of children's media in recent years. "Nintendo and New World Travel Narratives"was a dialog with Renaissance literature scholar Mary Fuller about the category of "spatial stories.Children's Culture CHILDREN'S CULTURE The popular culture produced for.

and the public for two days of intense conversation about the current state and future directions of this emerging storytelling medium. In February 2000." moving them inside in response to children's diminishing access to physical playspaces in their own neighborhoods. academics. Cyber-Society.edu/cms/People/henry3/children. which is co-edited with Justine Cassell (from the MIT Media Lab). Video and Computer Games Come of Age.Henry Jenkins ." we trace through the range of political and corporate responses to the "gender gap" in the computer game industry. social science research. We argue for a fundamental congruence between Nintendo games and earlier forms of travel narratives. including educational psychology. I continue to examine the history of gender distinctions in children's book publishing as a way of examining the successes and failures of the "girl game" movement. the Comparative Media Studies Program hosted a conference. This essay appeared in Steve Jones' anthology. This book brings together essays by scholars in a range of fields." I borrow the concept of "lively art" from Gilbert Seldes. cultural studies. outlining some of the contradictory assumptions about gender shaping current decisions about game design. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games.Children's Culture which defines classical storytelling and instead focus on movements through and the occupation of narrative space. In our introductory essay. "Chess for Girls?: Feminism and Computer Games. My arguments about the relationship between computer games and traditional backyard "boy culture" formed the basis for an interview with Next Generation magazine which centered around issues of video game violence. who wrote in the 1920s to put forward the argument that the most important American arts for the 20th century would be popular http://web. the essay includes a close consideration of Purple Moon's Secret Paths Through the Forrest and Theresa Duncan's Chop Suey and Zero Zero. and media design. The issue of gender and computer games forms the focus of my forthcoming book." I made the argument that video and computer games constitute a new "lively art.htm (2 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:17:13] . development. and includes interviews with six key women in the games industry and a selection of webzine writings by game grrlz. The book takes a snapshot of the current "girls game" movement as a way of understanding the intersection between academic and entrepreneural feminism in the late 1990s. In "Complete Freedom of Movement': Computer Games as Gendered Playspaces. Specifically. which brought together leading figures from the games industry with critics. and distribution. In an essay for Technology Review titled "An Art for the Digital Age." I continue my exploration of video games as "spatial stories. Then.mit." suggesting the ways that the genre conventions of the "boys game" responded to features in traditional backyard "boy culture.

This essay appears in Kid's Media Culture edited by Marsha Kinder. It traces the shift from the anti-sensualism associated with the pre-war work of behaviorist William Watson to the celebration of sensuality and exploration of the body associated with the post-war work of Benjamin Spock and others. This research has resulted in a series of already published essays examining major landmarks of the period in terms of their relationship to the changing conception of the child. I examine the links between Doctor Seuss's pre-war and wartime activities as an editorial cartoonist for PM and as a propagandist working in the Capra Unit and his post-war writings for children. This essay appears in my collection. This essay will appear in Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasure of Popular Culture. jazz. "playing doctor.mit.Children's Culture arts. I examine moments in the television narrative when Lassie changes ownership as crisis points in the program ideology. comic strips. "'No Matter How Small': The Democratic Imagination of Doctor Seuss" examines the ways that shifting post-war assumptions about childhood were linked to larger debates about democracy and represented a domestic extension of the pre-war Popular Front movement. and Broadway musicals. "'Her Suffering Aristocratic Majesty': The Sentimental Value of Lassie" uses the classic children's novel. Lassie Come Home. such as Hollywood movies. This essay appears in The Revolution Wasn't Televised: Sixties Television and Social Change. CHILDHOOD INNOCENCE The Children's Culture Reader brings together a range of pre-published essays by http://web. Specifically. and its television manifestation to explore the intersection between our sentimental valuation of the dog and of the child. The Children's Culture Reader.edu/cms/People/henry3/children.htm (3 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:17:13] ." and parental nudity. Benjamin Spock and the Sexual Revolution" offers a provocative look at changing conception of children's sexuality as reflected in advice to parents on such issues as masturbation.Henry Jenkins . exploring how the series negotiates these transitions and how each shift reflects some changes in the core assumptions behind the series. PERMISSIVE CHILD-REARING AND POPULAR CULTURE I am currently considering writing a book-length study of the impact of permissive child-rearing doctrines on post-war popular culture aimed at children. "'The All American Handful': Dennis the Menace and the Bad Boy Tradition" fits Hank Ketchum's popular comic strip and the television series adaptation within a tradition of writings about bad boys which date back to the 19th century and which provided the culture with a way of exploring its conflicting feelings about masculinity. "The Sensuous Child: Dr.

and others. I demonstrate the complex relationship between the image of the innocent child and adult politics. which I described in my essay. the construction of children's sexual and gender identities. The Workbook section reproduces a number of primary documents drawn from child rearing guides from the 1910s-1960s. [link syllabus here] COLUMBINE AND BEYOND In the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton. "Understanding Children's Fictions. I argue for a mode of teaching which starts from the assumption that popular culture is a meaningful part of children's lives and that teachers should empower them to more actively manipulate and appropriate its materials as a way of working through their implications for children's everyday lives.S. literary critics.mit. anthropologists. psychologists. "The Kids Are Alright On-line." which was widely posted around the web and eventually reprinted in Harpers.Children's Culture social historians. The pedagogical implications of this work are examined in an essay published in Radical Teacher titled "Empowering Children in the Digital Age: Towards a Radical Media Pedagogy. I was called before the U. I also visited high schools across the country to try to better understand teen's relationship to media. distributing this resource guide for teachers." Here. Colorado. mostly centered around the politics of childhood innocence.htm (4 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:17:13] . Senate Commerce Committee investigation into "Marketing Violence to Youth. The syllabus for my course. cultural scholars. I offer an overview of the ways that our understanding of the child has shifted across the last five hundred years and the ways that cultural scholars and others have understood the issue of children's cultural and political agency. including "Lessons From Littleton: What Congress Doesn't Want To Hear About Youth and Media. I bring together my work on children's culture with my work on cultural appropriation and fandom. Then. "The Innocent Child and Other Myths" is the introduction to this collection." My testimony sought to challenge the dominant media effects paradigm and call for a more complex understanding of teen's relationships to popular culture.Henry Jenkins ." I participated in many different forums and discussions about this issue. "Professor Jenkins Goes to Washington. including this exchange with slashdot journalist Jon Katz. Using a consideration of Susan Molinari's address to the 1996 Republican National Convention and Hilary Clinton's speech to the 1996 Democratic National Convention. I devoted one of my Technology Review columns to exploring how outcast youth benefit from their time spent in the on-line world.edu/cms/People/henry3/children." http://web. and the relationship between children's play and children's consumption. which was held at MIT. Testifying before Congress was a harrowing experience." suggests some ways that classroom teachers might encourage students to reflect on the intersection between adult politics and children's culture. Here. I was subsequently asked to write essays for educators.

Children's Culture http://web.edu/cms/People/henry3/children.mit.Henry Jenkins .htm (5 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:17:13] .

I draw on the work of Norbert Elias to examine the ways that sports function as an authorized space of male emotional release and to consider the ways that the fictional structure of wrestling makes it especially effective for provoking strong emotions. I was interviewed for the Canadian documentary. Sexuality and Popular Culture and Myths of Gender -. A growing body of literature.html (1 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:17:30] . I have been deeply involved in the Women's Studies Program. MASCULINITY Much of the scholarship in gender studies has emerged from feminist work and has tended to focus on the social construction of femininity and on the limitations that women experience in their professional and personal lives. This essay first appeared in Aaron Baker and Todd Boyd (ed. including both my scholarship and my teaching. also inflected by feminist theory and politics. "Never Trust a Snake!: WWF Wrestling as Masculine Melodrama" uses genre theory to examine the melodramatic dimensions of television wrestling and its "fit" with the social and economic experience of working class American males.edu/cms/People/henry3/gender. "The Laughing Stock of the City: Male Dread. Almost from the day I arrived at MIT. Out of Bounds : Sports.mit.).to examine the social construction of masculinity. Many of my essays adopt this approach. including the representations of gender and sexuality found in mass media and popular culture. I also served as the acting director of the MIT Gay and Lesbian Studies program for three years. these essays represent an attempt to map some of the central genres of contemporary entertainment in terms of their often complex and contradictory representations of male identity. has begun to turn the lens in the other direction -. and the Politics of Identity Because of this essay. Specifically. Issues of gender and sexuality have been central to my work. Wrestling With Shadows.Henry Jenkins GENDER AND SEXUALITY Our sense of personal identity (gender) and our erotic relations (sexuality) are partially shaped by social and cultural factors. which will appear on the Arts and Entertainment Channel this fall. I have taught two courses specifically in this area -. Performance Anxiety and Unfaithfully http://web.Gender. Media.Masculinity. Collectively.

) Classical Hollywood Comedy. Fields' comedies fit within a larger tradition I call "Comedy of Marital Combat" which reflects male anxieties about the growing authority women exercised in the domestic sphere. and Charlotte Greenwood. Winnie Lightner's films use comic masquerade to express a female resistance to traditional conceptions of http://web. This essay originally appeared in Kristine Karnack and Henry Jenkins (Ed. to map the spaces open for boys and girls within contemporary video games.) The Revolution Wasn't Televised:Sixties Television and Social Conflict. 'The All-American Handful'" represents the intersection between my work on children's culture and my work on masculinity.edu/cms/People/henry3/gender. Disorderly Conduct and Gendered Laughter in Early Sound Comedy" looks at the representations of gender relations within the early 1930s films of three comic stars. FEMALE COMIC PERFORMANCE Another important strand in my work has dealt with the issue of female comic performance.film comedy. For a long time. examining the narrative tradition of "bad boy" comedy as embodying certain masculine fantasies about escape from matriarchal control and then exploring how the 1950s comic strips and 1960s television series based on Dennis the Menace expressed specific concerns of the postwar generation about fatherhood and domesticity. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. For more on this project. I offer an account of the relationship between male identity formation and a dread of women and suggests the ways that comedy may serve useful psychic functions in helping to resolve male fears about their own inadequacies in comparison to our larger-than-life ideals about heroic masculinity." This essay draws on cultural geography. "Dennis the Menace. "'Don't Become Too Intimate With That Terrible Woman!': Wild Women. even though female clowns have surfaced in almost every period of film history. W. This approach helps me to examine the complexities of Preston Sturge's Unfaithfully Yours and to explain why this film has been widely perceived as an artistic failure.Henry Jenkins Yours" examines masculine responses to another genre -. and research on children's literature.mit. see the Children's Culture section.C. Winnie Lightner. This essay initially appeared in a slightly edited form in Michael Curtin and Lynn Spigel (Eds.html (2 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:17:30] . social history. It appears in Justine Cassel and Henry Jenkins (Eds. One of my few ventures into psychoanalytic theory. Fields. A growing body of feminist scholarship has sought to reclaim these stars and understand how their films allowed an expression of the contradictory attitudes towards femininity at play within the culture. most histories of film comedy made little or no reference to female stars.). "'Complete Freedom of Movement': Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces" examines the ways that contemporary video games build upon traditions of gendered play which emerged in the context of 19th century "Boy Culture.

though it is often of mixed http://web." written to appear in a forthcoming collection of essays on female comic performance edited by Kristine Karnack. Specifically.mit. the rewriting of television series through fan fiction and the complex gender and sexual politics surrounding slash. I am often asked by people reading or teaching this book where they can find slash. even as it allowed a limit space for women to question socially-sanctioned gender roles. a Mexican-American comic star who is remembered today more for her scandalous life and death than for her screen appearances. a genre of homo-erotic romance featuring television characters such as Kirk and Spock. the chance to make films and to express their own perspectives on contemporary society provided they were willing to fulfill the exploitation cinema's expectations of sex. This book offers an ethnographic perspective on the mostly female fan communities surrounding such popular television series as Star Trek. This essay was written to appear in a book on Trash Cinema being edited by Eric Schaeffer. The Professionals. nudity. Corman offered new filmmakers. including women like Stephanie Rothman. Charlotte Greenwood's So Long Letty turns the "Comedy of Marital Combat" on its head to express why women might not find domestic life so rewarding.Henry Jenkins feminine beauty and compliance.edu/cms/People/henry3/gender. I look at the intersection of race and gender in the films of Lupe Velez. the struggle between Beauty and the Beast fans and producers over the series' generic status as part romance and part action-adventure series. Beauty and the Beast. SEXUALITY AND INTERPRETATION Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. FEMALE AUTHORSHIP "'Compromised Cinema': Exploiting Feminism in Stephanie Rothman's Terminal Island " examines the space open for female political and aesthetic exploration in the exploitation films produced by Roger Corman in the 1960s and 1970s. More and more of it is becoming available on the web. GENDER. I examine how Rothman was able to make these very elements the central vehicles for expressing her distaste for contemporary gender relations and for exploring utopian fantasies of female empowerment and social transformation. represents a revision and reconsideration of my own earlier work. What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic. Specific chapters consider the ways that fan critical practice relate to work done by David Bleich and others on gender and reading. and violence. This essay first appeared in Camera Obscura and then appeared in my book.html (3 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:17:30] . Using Terminal Island as a case study. "'You Don't Say That in English!': The Scandal of Lupe Velez. I examine the ways that the figure of "the unruly woman" or the "woman on top" helped to naturalize existing prejudices against Mexican-American women. and Blake's Seven.

mit. and Identity. but little of it has been written by participants in this subculture. will appear (someday) in Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander (Eds. This essay. and interpretation.Henry Jenkins quality. the subcultural practices of fandom. and research on queer audiences.edu/cms/People/henry3/gender. sexuality. So much academic writing has emerged in recent years on the subject of slash. and bisexual fans to lobby for the inclusion of a queer-positive character in Star Trek. its critical reception. lesbian. http://web. The best website to get started reading on-line slash is Satyricon Au Go-Go. "Reception Theory and Audience Research: The Mystery of the Vampire's Kiss" offers an overview of the ways that people have theorized audience response to the cinema. and the status of Star Trek at MIT as a means of working through complicated attitudes about the relationship between mind and emotion and for exploring the students' own growing mastery over issues of science and technology. which I co-edited with Cynthia Jenkins and Shoshanna Green. I wanted to use my access to academic publishing to make the ideas of slash fans more accessible to a broader community. Subculture. My contributions to Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek continue this exploration of the relationship between gender.html (4 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:17:30] . At the core of this essay is the close consideration of one fan story which depicts Thelma and Louise as lesbian vampires. and include close considerations of the ways female fans rewrite the relationship between Kirk and Nurse Chapel as a way of resolving the program's contradictory attitudes towards the role of women in Star Fleet. the history of the efforts by gay. "Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking" was an attempt to pull together excerpts from slash fans theorizing about slash writing. I trace how this story might be understood in relation to the original film.) Theorizing Fandom: Fans. This essay was written to appear in a collection on different approaches to film studies being edited by Linda Williams and Christine Gledhill.

Only in the final moments do sound and image come together: fireworks burst over the Manhattan skyline and Gershwin's music explodes into a crescendo of clashing cymbals and pounding drumbeats. No. The sun glistens over the Manhattan skyscape." and continues. Allen's narration suggests that the Gershwin soundtrack expresses the protagonist's romanticism. He idealized it all out of proportion. revisions. he stops. he.Henry Jenkins TALES OF MANHATTAN: MAPPING THE URBAN IMAGINATION THROUGH HOLLYWOOD FILM By Henry Jenkins False Starts The first chords of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" are heard.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. unanticipated fanfares. corrects himself." In the opening montage of Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979). this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Allen emphasizes glamour and romance. The Soulvka King and the Empire Diner are treated with the same reverence as Times Square and the Guggenheim. sometimes aggravation and self doubt. are only loosely linked to the narration. two black teenagers shoot baskets in the projects. The black and white images possess the sheen of old Hollywood glamour photographs. he "thrives on the hustle and bustle of the crowds and the traffic.mit. "To him no matter what the season. The still photographs. and contradictions reflect his ambivalence towards New York. http://web. of course. He adored New York City. Allen makes no effort to coordinate the images and cutting to its rhythms." In another. which borrow from classic representations of the city. A young couple kiss on a penthouse balcony. Allen's ambivalence is reinforced by the images and music. Let me start this all over. he is "desensitized by drugs. television. Woody Allen stammers the opening lines: "Chapter One." Searching for a consistent vantage point from which to capture the totality of Manhattan in a single paragraph. In one passage. substitutes "romanticized" for "idealized. is doomed to fail." Then." "Ah. garbage. Sometimes. Allen's hesitations. crime. loud music. yet "Rhapsody in Blue" also uses jarring bursts of percussion. and syncopation to express the clashing and contradictory qualities of urban life.html (1 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] .

The Image of the City. more than the ear can hear. Every citizen has had long associations with some part of his city. and the image is the composite of them all. However.Not only is the city an object which is perceived (and perhaps enjoyed) by millions of people of widely diverse class and character. television programs. The book opens with an acknowledgment of the complexity and multiplicity of urban life. Lynch is interested primarily in the experiential process by which city dwellers develop a sense of their native turf. there is more than the eye can see. it is ever changing in detail. then. but always in relation to its surroundings. films. our perception of the city is not sustained. are partially shaped by formal properties of the cities themselves and partially by the process of perception and interpretation through which we construct mental representations of those properties. Lynch saw urban studies as a way of building a more educated and appreciative audience for urban design. In The Image of the City. the sequence of events leading up to it.Henry Jenkins Images of the Cinematic City In his classic study. while Manhattan "seems to have stepped right out of http://web." recognizing that our perceptions of the city change and unfold over time. mixed with other concerns. Nothing is experienced by itself. a setting or a view waiting to be explored. fragmentary. Nearly every sense is in operation. Lynch recognized that our "images" of cities. our mental maps of familiar cities incorporate not only memories of direct encounters but also second-hand experiences gained through mediated interactions with various representations of those cities -. Kevin Lynch sought to bring to city design an appreciation of the aesthetics of urban experience as a "temporal art.. Lynch recognized that city-dwellers needed to be taught to perceive their cities in new ways. Lynch sought to bring greater clarity and sensuality to our "images" of our native cities and to design urban spaces with more striking features that would enable a more coherent "cognitive mapping" of their basic parameters. written descriptions. At the same time. the memory of past experiences. but rather partial. suggesting that the city can never be reduced to a single stable image but can only be understood in kinetic and dynamic terms: At every instant. photographs.. and the like..html (2 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] .paintings.mit. but it is the product of many builders who are constantly modifying the structure for reasons of their own.Most often. and his image is soaked in meanings and memories. While it may be stable in general outlines for some time. Jean Baudrillard argues that visiting a European city where the urban environment seems to be a "reflection of the paintings" one has just scrutinized in the galleries...edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan.. In an oft-cited passage from America.

trying to give aesthetic shape to their own particular perceptions of America's most famous city. since like urban design itself. randomness. exhaust the full range of urban images to circulate in the American cinema. their motives. in short. An ill-considered development deal may mar the urban landscape. fragmentation. blocking our ability to see important landmarks or to move fluidly between nodes. power. what I find most striking is that he discusses urban form in a vocabulary which closely parallels the ideals of the classically constructed narrative. must remain "plastic to the perceptions and purposes of its citizens. that disrupt or break down its coherent development or fragment our perceptions of it. When Lynch writes about the "image of the city. but when we discuss the cinematic image of the city. Lynch." This impression of Manhattan as a cinematic city is not surprising when one considers that one recent filmography of feature-length movies set in New York City listed more than 500 titles. Such an essay can not. but this paper will be more centrally concerned with those cases where filmmakers sought to make movies about Manhattan. and their experiences. for Lynch. incoherence. but in each case that sharp picture crystallizes and reinforces the meaning. however. greatness. congestion. Reading Lynch from the perspective of someone who studies cinema and not cities. of course." but the cinema brings its own expectations about what a classically constructed story looks like -. In many cases. he is primarily interested in formal features that make it harder or easier for us to grasp the city's essential structures. we are entering a space where formal and ideological issues merge.congestion. speaks of a "melodic" structuring of landmarks and regions along a succession of paths. decadence." The "city image" in film. mystery. SPATIAL STORIES http://web. The challenge for the filmmaker is to create a story that situates the individual in relation to the city in such a way that the film preserves what is distinctive about the metropolis -.expectations which urban-based stories often find themselves unable to satisfy.html (3 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . the "legibility " of a city image was what enabled it to become such a powerful basis for affective associations and metaphoric meanings: "The image of the Manhattan skyline may stand for vitality. which he suggested might follow a "classical introduction-development-climax-conclusion" pattern. already comes to us as interpreted through the powerful creative intelligence of an artist who wants us to see that skyline in a certain way. heterogeneity. the cinema would seem to be the perfect form to express the dynamic properties of the city. Classically constructed stories remain focused on particular characters. simultaneity. but my goal is to focus attention on a set of aesthetic and ideological problems at the heart of representing the "cinematic city.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. Lynch is acutely aware of the various factors that prevent the city from achieving such a classical narrative form." then. or what you will. cinema is a "temporal art form." The image of a city." For Lynch. In one sense. a convenient and familiar backdrop for the narrative action.Henry Jenkins the movies. for example. New York simply provides the setting for these films. their memories. their goals.mit. Yet.

However. Exhibition was the central economic force behind the vertically-integrated studio system which dominated American film production from the 1920s until the late 1940s. they came to the city seeking a social mobility and personal freedom they could not enjoy in the villages where their families had lived for generations. and often. The urban population of the United States quadrupled in the forty years between 1870 and 1910. The earliest films often documented a moment in time at a specific location. the majority of Hollywood films of the studio era centered on urban experience.those who lived in New York or Los Angeles. they also feared the alienation and isolation of inhabiting a world of strangers and they felt buffeted by the rapid pace and fragmented nature of modernity. facilitating a process of virtual tourism. the stories themselves circulate beyond their original cultures. Rural and hinterland audiences were secondary markets. The cinema helped the United States to negotiate the tensions and uncertainties surrounding its transition from a predominantly pastoral society to a predominantly urban and suburban one. their primary exhibition revenue came from the urban hubs where they owned almost all of the theaters. seeking to reconcile them through a more totaling account of http://web. From the start. The cinema emerged in the midst of a period of dramatic transformation within American culture. to describe and record their collective journeys and migrations.Henry Jenkins Cultures. Telling a story is an act of clarification that bestows coherence on ambiguous or ambivalent relationships between people and places. such films typically linked colonial powers with the far-flung reaches of their empires. Often. In the United States." De Certeau writes.html (4 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . Urban markets determined what films would be made and what aesthetic sensibilities would dominate the American film industry. In Europe. The Hollywood cinema explained to city-dwellers the nature of their own experience and transmitted traces of that experience to a broader population being gradually absorbed into urban areas. the American cinema was closely associated with the urban experience.or perhaps especially for -. and to map the boundaries between known and unknown territories. This is not to say that the American cinema offered a coherent or totally accurate picture of urban life. Such films spoke to both immigrants from other countries who were hoping to better understand their new life in America and migrants from rural areas who were hoping to accommodate themselves to their new urban homes. For the five major studios. Hollywood's spatial stories gave expression to both these utopian and dystopian impulses.mit. cinema brought images of the emerging American metropolis to the hinterlands. construct stories to explain and justify their occupation of geographic spaces.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. Michel De Certeau tells us. justifying one community to another. Consequently. Many were horrified by mass culture given the prevailing ideology of rugged individualism. Urbanization provoked highly charged and often deeply ambivalent feelings even for -. albeit with a certain nostalgia for America's pastoral past. "Every story is a travel story.

html (5 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . or they rewrite them. Panoramic works create a composite account which combines written descriptions and narratives with various graphic representations. they do so in dialogue with these earlier representations. the feature film with its classically constructed narrative replaced "the cinema of attractions". Cinema could give shape to collective experience.mit. The cinema was the ideal apparatus for recording the diversity of urban experience. as Allen does in Manhattan when he evokes a succession of classic photographs representing the New York skyline. dramas. while retaining the particularity of individual narratives. For those reasons. each writing in different genres with different styles and tones. bringing together stories by http://web. Panoramic literature sought to record and classify all aspects of everyday experience. Cohen notes.Henry Jenkins the city." Often. These films encourage a pleasure in scanning the image and observing ordinary interactions. offering views out the windows of streetcars. which merges the visual vocabulary of the film noir tradition with more contemporary science fiction trappings. though gradually. panoramic works had multiple authors. An evening's entertainment at the movies. Cinema was an art form based on sequencing and juxtaposing image fragments to construct a more meaningful whole. travel films. They quote them. traits that they felt resulted in perpetual disorientation and confusion. cartoons. Though our contemporary relationships to the city are dramatically different from those that shaped these earlier spatial stories. Many early films were literally panoramas. and the like. etchings.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. was itself a composite picture of turn-of-the-century life. such works sought to tell the collective story of the city. which might be composed of short comedies. "Panoramic texts evince a characteristic narrational mode: They are composed of micro-narratives with no direct continuity from plot to plot. which she calls "Panoramic Literature. views looking off rooftops. Some later American films still adopted this panoramic structure. the genre conventions that emerged during this important transitional period continue to exert a powerful influence over subsequent representations. charts. views pointing into busy intersections. constructing a moving record of everyday life. documentaries. PANORAMIC PERSPECTIVES Early writers emphasized the fragmentation and constant sensory bombardment of city life. Contemporary artists give new form to their perceptions of urban life. any attempt to understand the contemporary cinematic city must always position those representations in relation to earlier images. The cinema absorbed many of these panoramic impulses." Rather than telling a single story about fictional characters and their experiences. Margaret Cohen has argued that the cinema's synthesizing function was prefigured by a 19th century French genre of popular writings. and photographs. as we will see in the example of Dark City. including maps. but often.

edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan.Henry Jenkins multiple authors through some unifying structure based on thematic associations or movements through space. lifts up the skyscrapers over Wall Street. sinks down at Greenwich. One of the ways that this desire is fed is through the production and circulation of picture postcards which reproduce this "celestial" view of the city and make it available to many who have never visited the top of the World Trade Center. What often gets lost in a panorama is the particularity of individual experiences. In his essay. Its agitation is momentarily arrested by vision. panoramic.mit. and Lamar Trotti).C. suggesting that they adopt a pictorial vocabulary that has remained relatively unchanged for more than sixty years and that varies only http://web. Architectural critic Alvin Boyarsky has examined picture post cards as a conventional system for representing urban life." Michel De Certeau describes the experience of observing Manhattan from atop the World Trade Center. These works were less panoramas than collages." We build our modern towers of Babel not to reach the sun. Tales of Manhattan (Julian Duvivier. The stories range from the broadly comic (W. on the other hand. The giant mass is immobilized before the eyes. is misleading. "Walking in the City. then rises again to the crests of Midtown. a sea in the middle of a sea.html (6 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . Such works value diversity rather than coherence. creates a totalizing perspective that integrates a wide array of elements into a single vista. Robinson as a down-and-out man who dresses up to attend his college reunion). Fields as a charlatan temperance lecturer) to the tragic (Edgar G. quietly passes over Central Park and finally undulates off into the distance beyond Harlem. A panorama. New York City unfolds around him like a panorama. De Certeau is fascinated with the false sense of totality ("seeing the whole") created by this panoramic perspective: "To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lifted out of the city's grasp. Alan Campbell. he suggests. From the 110th Floor: Of course. the use of the term. composite pictures taken from multiple perspectives in which each element maintains some degree of separation from the others. A wave of verticals. 1942) uses the improbable circulation of a dress coat to link a series of short stories by some of the period's top screenwriters (including Ben Hect. His vantage point flattens the city into geometric patterns devoid of human activity: Beneath the haze stirred up by the winds. Donald Ogden Stewart. The coat takes us from the arts world (worn by Charles Laughton as a struggling concert conductor or Charles Boyer as a successful Broadway star) to the shanty town inhabited by a group of black sharecroppers. the urban island. but rather to see and know the urban world below us.

The camera toys with the spectator. The scale of the film has shifted. The focus is mostly on architecture. they have a spat amid the planetarium's alien moonscape. not static. Though individually "illegible. but no people. or even from above and below the original framing and the power dynamic shifts. The postcard embraces an ideology of urban progress. translating the cluttered urban environment into "sights" that can be isolated and recorded. Cinema's focus is on movement. thus. Each postcard offers an emblematic image of the city. juxtaposition. and narrative. not people (except as parts of crowds). depends on monumentalism. The cinema can not remain in the clouds. one segregated by race. the opening montage in Manhattan draws liberally on the postcard's visual repertoire. class. The postcard. A more complex play between "celestial" and more earthly perspectives can be found in Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise's West Side Story (1961).one of the first Hollywood musicals to make extensive use of location shooting. A series of shots brings the camera closer to the ground to show us a group of teenagers loitering in a vacant lot. or monumental images. Allen situates his actors against the backdrops of familiar New York landmarks -. those who walk the streets become active participants. if it wants to tell the stories of those who walk below. The moment one side dominates a shot.Henry Jenkins minimally from city to city. The most characteristic vantage points on New York City include civic landmarks photographed from a low-angle position.Diane Keaton and Woody Allen watch the sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. making dramatic shifts in shot scale. gender and nationality as well as a set of borderlands where different communities come together. swish panning from location to location. dropped in the mail or plastered in scrapbooks. inhabiting turf contested by the Jets and the Sharks. From the Sidewalk: West Side Story prefigures De Certeau's own shift in focus. we hear faint echoes of whistling and snapping fingers. moving in from the left and the right. emblematic. often racking focus or zooming out midshot to show unanticipated aspects of the image.html (7 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . From such heights. the skyline itself viewed from a boat in the harbor or across one of the bridges." the aggregate of many such movements constitutes the story of urban life: http://web. The shift also represents a move from a "unified" conception of the city to one that sees the urban sidewalks as a space being actively contested between recent immigrants and longer-term residents. we can see cars and buildings. celebrating the man-built environment. The art of the cinema is not the art of the postcard. encapsulating the visit and allowing its transmission to those back home. We are now on ground level. In a few moments. If the viewer standing atop the World Trade Center remains "alien" to the inhabited world below. suddenly the other appears from off-camera.mit. However. Yet. or the aerial perspective looking down on the city streets. The film opens with a sequence of spectacular helicopter views looking down on the island of Manhattan. the film maker moves us from the skies to the streets and it is this shift that enables the story to begin.

html (8 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . De Certeau argues for a sociology that respects these "singularities" rather than searching for a totaling account. Three men arrive at the same cab seconds apart. but do not compose a series.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. As De Certeau suggests. Our eye strays to observe a series of street performers. the pedestrian's movements are unpredictable and shadowy. can not be adequately expressed through abstractions. Lane self-consciously echoes a justly famous montage sequence from Charles Chaplin's Modern Times (1936). pouring out of the subway or waving frantically for taxi cabs. whether those of the artist or the urban planner: Their story begins on ground level. lingering long enough to appreciate their acts. preserving the slower pace of his footsteps. In each case. Such uncoordinated movements. Here. before the tracking shot takes us a little further through Washington Square. the music shifts tone and genre to reflect the performers' individual sensibilities. a mass of people pushing their way down the sidewalk. as he moves past bodies sleeping on the streets and people rummaging through trash cans. intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator. which compared the crowds shoving onto the subway to a flock of sheep being herded into the stockyards. They are myriad. shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations. The takes become longer. The rapid cutting between different images and the monumental music express the stress and tension of rush hour traffic.Henry Jenkins The networks of these moving. The opening of Charles Lane's Sidewalk Stories (1989) explores these "qualitative" differences in ways of moving through the city. http://web. The rhythms of Lane's cutting and music shift as we pick up the trajectory of an aged street person pushing a shopping cart full of belongings. They each grab at the door and try to push the others away.mit. They cannot be counted because each unit has a qualitative character: a style of tactile apprehension and kinesthetic appropriation. Deep-focus compositions position him against other unfolding narratives. it remains daily and indefinitely other. When one of them gets into the back seat. the others seize him by his legs and yank him out again. with footsteps. An initial montage shows the morning migrations of urban office workers. representing Manhattan from a pedestrian's perspective. Their swarming mass is an innumerable collection of singularities. De Certeau argues. Lane constructs a powerful class-based contrast between the urban environment as experienced by those who move with purpose and those who wander because they have no home and no job.

perceiving interactions. "is to lack a place. "no camera." Henri Lefebvre describes what he observes from his lower balcony. starting at dawn and ending after dark.Henry Jenkins following no fixed trajectory." As that designation suggests.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. has no rhythm. 1929) are musical. experiencing the city not as a static spectacle but as a series of intersecting narratives. the alert ear begins to separate. The choice de Certeau poses for us. "To walk. between "voyeurs and walkers" is. From the opening paragraphs. rhythms answer each other. LeFebvre is interested in the process of perception and interpretation: Noise. He wants to document different durations of time. When rhythms are lived and blend into another. LeFebvre's essay ends with the suggestion that the rhythms of the city are "much more varied than in music". indifferent to the intended flow of traffic or the desired use of space. a head. bringing them together." Lane builds his contemporary silent comedy. ranging from the intervals between green and red lights to the cyclical shifts from morning to night. when chaotic. no image or sequence of images can show these rhythms. showing patterns of collective movement often invisible to individuals focused only on personal goals and activities. in the tradition of Chaplin. the central metaphors running through Manhattan (Paul Strand." LeFebvre sees perception and interpretation as active processes that can not be readily separated from their contexts. these films orchestrate the rhythms of urban experience. seeing the homeless as the protagonists of their own stories living in the "shadows" of the great public drama of work life. 1921). there are many other perspectives. Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman. or Man With a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov. they are difficult to make out. like LeFebvre. Yet.But from the window noises are distinguishable. fluxes separate themselves.mit. a false one. as they influence the activity in the streets. rhythms. though as we will see. A similar fascination sparked a genre of documentary films known as "City Symphonies. a memory. rumors. fill with people. around such local acts of appropriation and disruption. in some sense. Empty streets come to life. He has not lost touch with human scale. allowing him some distance from individual pedestrians and yet enabling him to focus on the rhythms and patterns of collective movement." De Certeau suggests.Over there. Often. Noise. the one walking in the street is immersed into the multiplicity of noises.. 1927). In "Seen From the Window.html (9 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . to identify sources. middle level generalizations are often difficult to convert into spatial stories. and then empty again at the end of the day. Rumors.. these film makers were fascinated with the cyclical quality of a day in the life of a great city. Berlin and the other city http://web. Lefebvre's perch is much closer to the street than De Certeau's.. One needs equally attentive eyes and ears.. From a Lower Balcony: Between the streets and the skies. which offer a middle ground between alien abstraction and intimate involvement. Noises.. a heart.

Henry Jenkins

symphonies represent collective patterns of work, eating, recreation, and rest, built up from single images which themselves express individual or particularized experiences. These images purposely cut across class distinctions, bring together many different occupational groups, mix and match men and women. Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1983) is a contemporary city symphony, set to Philip Glass's minimalist music. Koyaanisqatsi contrasts the gradual rhythms of the natural world with the frantic pace of modernity, seeing urban life as "crazy life...life in turmoil...life out of balance... life disintegrating." Reggio uses stop-motion photography to accelerate the action. A huge pile of newspapers evaporates in a matter of seconds. Subways become hives of insects as mobs of people flit from place to place. The flow of traffic becomes a throbbing pattern of light surging through urban arteries. Strategic juxtapositions create a succession of analogies between the population flow along crowded sidewalks and the flow of hot-dogs down a conveyer belt. Its pixilated images involve a play with perception as we struggle to focus on individuals, to sort out specific actions from the pulsating rhythms of the mass. Periodically, Reggio slows down the motion to offer portraits of individuals, looking like squirrels caught in headlights. In the film's final moments, the shot of a city taken from outer space is compared with the microscopic surface of a computer circuit, each indecipherable and yet clearly structured. The film wants us to perceive this acceleration of modern perceptual experience as horrific. Yet, there is a haunting beauty about Reggio's images, such as a giant moon flowing rapidly across the nighttime sky or the glistening lights of cars whizzing along the freeway. We are fascinated by the city's ordered but relentless rhythms. From the Pages of a Guidebook: City symphonies existed on the fringes of the narrative cinema. Their abstraction from individual human experience meant that they did not fit comfortably within the character-centered storytelling associated with the Classical Hollywood Cinema. How do we move from large scale structures focused on collective activity to more personal stories that still express something of the complexity and heterogeneity of urban life? One common structure for spatial stories centers around the tour. Looking at the city through a visitor's eyes helps us to recognize distinguishing characteristics that we ignore in our daily lives. We underestimate the cities where we live, never able to see them with the wonderment that bring tourists to see the sights. One function of spatial stories is to transform the city from a mundane space into a fantastic one, but the tour structure carries its own dangers. Tour guides lead us around by the nose and often do not leave us open to spontaneous discoveries or personal experiences. They prescribe where we should look and what we will see. They reduce the city to its landmarks. "What can happen in one day," a construction worker asks the trio of sailor boys on leave in On The Town (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1949) and as if to answer that question, the next number, "New York, New York," compresses an entire tour of the
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Henry Jenkins

city into a three minute segment. Each shot shows a different location and a different mode of transportation, as the boys race each other across the Brooklyn Bridge, ride horse drawn carriages, take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, point at the sites through the roof of taxi cabs, take the subway, gallop on horseback, whiz by on bikes. As the story unfolds, we learn that Chip (Frank Sinatra), who has never been anywhere but Peoria, has structured the whole day -- in fifteen minute increments - according to his grandfather's 1905 guidebook. The guidebook represents one way of organizing the eclectic experiences of the Metropolis, designating a series of sights worthy of particular notice (because, as De Certeau suggests, they are "believable," "memorable," or "primitive") and structuring a route between them that lends coherence and purpose to the day. The guidebook fails Chip in two important ways. First, it does not capture the protean quality of the city. Many of the landmarks he hopes to see -- the Hippodrome, the Floradora Girls -- have been displaced by more contemporary attractions. As the female taxicab driver explains, "A big city changes all the time." Instead, she offers him "the one thing that doesn't change" -- the experience of love and romance. He wants to see the Flatiron Building and she wants to get him back to her place. And this suggests the other way that the guidebook fails him -- displacing the personal, particularized narratives of individuals with totalizing, abstracted representations of the city. In disgust, she protests in a later scene, "whisper sweet nothings in my ear like the population of the Bronx or how many hot-dogs were sold in the last fiscal year at Yankee Stadium." Only when Chip tosses his dated guidebook off the ledge of the Empire State Building does he enjoy Manhattan's real pleasures. Long before Chip rejects his guidebook, On the Town abandons his itinerary for another route through New York City -- one determined by Gabey (Gene Kelly) and his search for the girl of his dreams. The musical maps the city's heterogeneity onto the composite figure of "Miss Turnstiles," this month's poster girl for the subway system: "She's a home loving girl but she loves high society's whirl. She loves the army but her heart belongs to the navy. She's studying painting at the museum and dancing at Symphonic Hall." And she has the one trait that allows her to perfectly personify Manhattan -- she wasn't born there. In fact, she comes from Gabey's own hometown, Meadowville. Despite his friends' constant claims that it is impossible to find one girl among the multitudes, Gabey keeps running into and losing her again and his pursuit takes him through the city's museums, concert halls, high rises, and nightclubs. Here, the shared experience of the guidebook tour gives way to the particularized goal of the search. Both offer the potential stories which center around movements through space but one focuses on the individual experience while the other foregrounds the collective. Both depend on the act of looking: one an act of looking at, the other an act of looking for. From the Countryside: Not surprisingly, a large percentage of Hollywood's spatial stories center around visitors who come to the city from regional cities like Peoria,
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Henry Jenkins

small towns like Meadowville (On the Town), Mapletown (The Clock) or Glenwood Falls (The Out-of-Towners) or from the countryside. Often, such films build a thematic opposition between town and city which is closely modeled on Ferdinand Tonnies's classic distinction between Gemeinschaft (Community) and Gesellschaft (Society). Phillip Kasinitz provides a useful summary of these concepts: For Tonnes, Gemeinschaft is a type [of] social solidarity based on intimate bonds of sentiment, a common sense of place (social as well as physical), and a common sense of purpose. Gemeinschafts, he argues, are characterized by a high degree of face-to-face interaction in a common locality among people who have generally had common experiences.... In a Gesellschaft, in contrast, relationships between people tend to be impersonal, superficial and calculating, and selfinterest is the prevailing motive for human action. Social solidarity is maintained by formal authority, contracts and laws. These differences surface especially powerfully in the silent cinema, when the American people were still adjusting to the new centrality of urban life to their national culture. Such a distinction structures, for example, F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927). A woman from the city comes to the country on vacation and destabilizes the relationship between a farmer and his wife. The city woman is depicted as operating outside the shared moral norms of the rural community. She has little respect for the institutions that hold the community together. She is soon the subject of gossip, one of the mechanisms which Tonnies argues help to enforce the stability of the Gemeinschaft by creating sanctions against the violation of its norms. The seductive and socially fragmenting force of the city is vividly represented in one of the film's key moments as the city woman urges the farmer to murder his wife and run away with her. She writhes in her slinky black dress as she describes to him the temptations and sensations of the city and images of urban nightlife (city skylines, bright lights, jazz bands) appear behind her almost as if they were projected onto a movie screen. Murnau uses camera movements, superimposition, and layered images to convey something of the heterogeneity, intensity, and fragmentation of the Gesellschaft. The farmer's wife, by contrast, is a plain, simple woman who loves her husband and remains faithful to him, despite his infidelities. When she visits the city, she is drawn towards simple pleasures, such as watching the church wedding of a young couple or getting a photograph taken with her spouse. She is suspicious of the easy, informal social relations of the city, anxiously eyeing the manicurist who trims her husband's nails. The city is full of threats and seductions that can destroy a marriage; they both are eager to return home to the country. The story is a familiar one -- the farm couple comes to the city, takes in its sights, and then returns back home where they belong. In Neil Simon's The Out-of-Towners (1970), George (Jack Lemmon), a small town businessman, comes to New York City
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Henry Jenkins

with his wife, Glen (Sandy Dennis) for a job interview. George and Glen have big plans for how they will enjoy their night on the town, but all of their plans go awry. Before the night is over, George and Glen stand, shivering, starving, and desperate, in a New York Police Station. "We were in a hold-up. We might have been killed," Glen proclaims, but they have great difficulty holding the attention of the police officer on duty. The sanitation strike which has left the city piled high with garbage has at last been settled, they are told, but now the milkmen have gone out. A horde of people all press towards the desk, each with their own stories of crime, woe, and distress, each interrupting with their own demands for resolution and assistance. Gwen is herself distracted, worrying about everyone's problems but her own: "I know what you're going through," she explains, which is, of course, literally true. George and Gwen's troubles stem from their assumption that their experiences matter when the city operates on the basis of statistics, not individuals. One missed train, one lost piece of luggage, one mislaid hotel reservation, one stolen wallet, one important business transaction amount to little. There are too many people, too many problems, for city services to respond to any of them. And, George can only react by trying to order the events by preparing for a law suit, taking down names, making a list of grievances, as if the whole experience were one great conspiracy against him. He screams to the skies, "You're just a city. Well, I'm a person and a person is stronger than a city. You're not getting away with anything. I have all your names and addresses." In the end, the couple finds they have no place in the city and they go back home to the Midwest, a region with a stronger sense of human proportion. On a Street Corner: Gemeinschaft, as Tonnes describes it, has many of the familiar features of a classically constructed narrative -- a unity of time and place, a consistency of viewpoint, a shared goal, a relatively limited cast of characters. In fact, to illustrate the social relations that arise in such a culture, Tonnes constantly evokes plots that have long been building blocks of the western storytelling tradition -- stories of the relationship between generations, between father and son, between siblings, between husbands and wives, between neighbors. In such a world, relationships are defined through their continuity and reciprocity, the intensity and permanence of the emotional investments we make in other community members. Relationships within a Gesellschaft culture, on the other hand, are "transitory and superficial"; people have many more social encounters in such a world but they do not cohere into a consistent narrative, because they do not demand the same emotional investments and thus do not leave lasting imprints. Street Scene (King Vidor, 1931), which is based on a stage play by Elmer Rice, was a bold experiment in narrative form because it attempts to create a plot structure appropriate for a Gesselschaft culture. Set on a tenement block, the film's opening scenes have little or no consistent focus. Children play in the streets. Neighbors linger on their stoops, shout from window to window, come and go along the sidewalks. Their conversation shifts from topic to topic. They get into arguments that reflect their
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or tracking down the street with one character and then pivoting and tracking back with another. Through a series of vividly drawn vignettes. as Sal's son resents having to work on "the planet of the apes. the camera pans across adjacent windows that reveal residents shaving. Then. following dialogue from window to window. applying make-up. Do the Right Thing is about the uneasy compromises that enable life to continue in a multiracial Bed-Stuy neighborhood.from long-takes and camera movements to close-ups and rapid editing. coherence is provisional.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. the camera pulls back to show the entire city block mobbed with people. Rice and Vidor documented the cultural conflicts that arose within a multicultural neighborhood as waves of immigration were changing the character of life on the Lower East Side. Street Scene's Jews. attention will be drawn elsewhere. bouncing their babies.Henry Jenkins conflicting moral codes. Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) could almost be understood as an attempt to update Street Scene.mit. Even then. Vidor captures the seeming randomness of Rice's plot with fluid camera movements that sweep the space. and Swedes watch each other with suspicion. a young couple awaiting a birth. Only late in the film does a single plotline dominate: a husband returns home unexpectedly and catches his wife in the arms of her lover. stretching and exercising. dressing. debate religious and social values. finally. Italians. Who speaks for this community? The hot-tempered "Buggin' Out. there are many potential plots -. Spike Lee moves us beyond sociological generalizations to more directly experience the emotional investments various characters make in having their own "place" in this evolving community. despite their differences." Buggin' Out demands that there should be pictures of "brothers" on the restaurant's wall of fame. he murders her and the entire community is drawn into the investigation and its aftermath. hurl ethnic slurs.10] Within these early scenes.[fig. but Spike Lee offers us little way of reconciling their contradictory assumptions.html (14 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . hanging the laundry. They constitute a community.a woman cheating on her husband. Soon. The multiplicity of urban life coheres into a narrative only when disaster occurs. Irish. the old black men who sit on the street corner sputter with rage over Korean immigrants buying up http://web. a family about to be evicted because they can no longer pay their bills. or the pragmatic and unreliable Mookie? Each has a chance to articulate BedStuy's values. Each neighbor seems totally unself-conscious about the close proximity of the others." the sputtering Smiley with his photocopied images of great black leaders. The neighborhood seems constantly on the verge of racial conflict. a sister worried about her brother. but somehow co-exist on the same block. A succession of reaction shots show the startled and alarmed people as they witness the acts of violence or run down the street to see what has happened. the dignified but drunk "mayor." the fast-talking disc-jockey Senior Love Daddy. In one shot. Street Scene signals its sudden shift in plot structure by altering its editing style -. the wise crone Mother Sister.

find ways to relate to each other. with their focus shifting from one vivid character to another. which are evoked moments later by a shot of graffiti scrawled on the side of the wall. In the end. moment later. unstable. Me.a jealous husband murders his wife -. they can only fight for space and seethe over historic injustices. No less than Rice and Vidor. The violence in Street Scene was personal -. the Korean grocer shouts over and over. the Same." trying to close ranks against the Italians while preserving his own precarious status in the neighborhood. as representatives of their own racial communities.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. The story of the city is being re-negotiated along the http://web. as becomes clear as the spiritual Mother Sister shouts for her neighbors to "burn it down" and then. Lee wants to use this street corner society as a microcosm to speak about the larger history of urban America.. You. personal loyalties matter little. "Tawana told the truth. Lee's film. And much like Street Scene. The violence in Do the Right Thing is collective and political. At one dramatic moment. and the locals feud with a Celtics supporter who has invested in an old "brownstone" on their block.Henry Jenkins business in their neighborhood.They grow up on my food. it is impossible to extract oneself fully from your neighbor's business. the story stops altogether as Lee shows us one character after another hurling racial epithets directly into the camera in a montage sequence that traces the cycle of hate and bigotry. All social ties are temporary. When violence erupts. no less than Street Scene." smashes a trash can through the pizzeria window. racial loyalties are of vital importance. There is an eerie familiarity to the moment when the firemen turn their hoses off the blaze and direct them against the community members who have gathered to watch Sal's place burn to the ground. who Sal described as "a son. Radio Rasheim's rapping Boombox tries to drown out his Hispanic neighbor's salsa. No one can remain neutral. Lee has little faith that these kinds of sentimental attachments can transcend society-wide racial conflicts. until we know our way around Lee's fully drawn and richly populated milieu..mit. But. these people can form friendships.html (15 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . Sal evokes such a vision of Bed-Stuy when he describes the experience of owning his own restaurant there for decades: "I watch the little kids grow old and the old people grow older. He depicts Sal as someone who has learned to compromise to avoid conflict and who respects the hierarchy of the community. the film builds towards a moment of violence when all of the various characters and their stories come together. make moral and personal distinctions.though in the tightly-woven communities of the Lower East Side." or by the images of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King that Smiley peddles in the street. But. Yet. the incidents are pulled into the history of police brutality against black defendants. "I no white. As individuals." Lee calls attention to the affection that Sal has for Mookie and his sister and the friendship between Mookie and Sal's younger son. Much as in Street Scene. the opening moments of Do The Right Thing are episodic. cries with horror at the destruction that has been unleashed. Mookie. even parent children together. depends upon a nostalgia for an organic community whose ties extend across generations and beyond cultural boundaries.

They meet and fall in love. Alice (Judy Garland). When Alice seeks advice at the local USO club or when Joe asks a newspaper stand owner whether he saw a girl get off a train. the more inevitable the coupling seems. the classical Hollywood cinema was suspicious of the arbitrariness of chance and coincidence. The more daunting the obstacles in True Love's path. in each cluster. however. a serviceman on leave. such flux can become meaningful.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. a young black man to his father. of course. Consequently. Alice gets on a subway train and Joe doesn't. despite all the odds. Though the enormity of Manhattan constantly threatens to engulf them. an attractive office worker. its stories were structured around wellmotivated causal event-chains.now a young married couple separating for the first time. but only one girl will do for the soldier in love. A husband discusses last minute details of family business. Conventions mandated that each event should be linked. From its beginnings.one that translates chance encounters into inevitable romances. Yet. Some couples are made for each other and will be united. Yet. An old officer bids farewell to his wife. A train pulls into Penn Station at the opening of Vincente Minelli's The Clock (1945) and a mob of people disembark. The camera pans slowly past the people awaiting their trains. provides appropriate backdrops for courtship.html (16 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] .Henry Jenkins borderlands where different racial groups come together or break apart. the city becomes the ideal setting for romantic comedy . Ideally. one way or another. trips over him and breaks the heel of her shoe. When he stops beside an escalator to read his newspaper.mit. What brings the young lovers together again is not so much chance as predestination. is that the characters will be swamped by the bustle surrounding them. In romantic comedy. What happens within such spaces depends heavily upon chance. and contrasts the intimacy between the lovers with the alienation of urban culture. But. and young lovers kiss one last time. they do find each again and the closing moments of the film bring them back to Penn Station once more . A father clutches his newborn baby. Among them is Joe (Robert Walker). Elderly mothers hold onto their servicemen sons. their love story stands out against the hurried backdrop of New York's various http://web. They still don't know each other's names and have no way of finding each other again. logically and inextricably to all those that come before and all of those that follow it. The risk. Pushing through an indifferent mob. upon the random ebb and flow of urban traffic." All girls look alike to the man who sells the papers. in the hands of an artist. Later. causality often gives way to predestination. there is at least one person who is serving his country and all of them are saying goodbye. At the Train Station: Train stations are narrative nexuses where paths cross and new relationships are formed. People are brought together and they are separated. they are met with incredulousness: "I see a thousand girls get off trains. the couple gets separated at Grand Central Station.

"I go all over." Bickle becomes. which convinces him that he has foiled a crime in progress." As the night unfolds. but not in predictable ways. An artist's sketch of his face is plastered on every telephone post. he finds himself under suspicion for local break-ins. In Martin Scorsese's black comedy.Henry Jenkins terminals." he tells us.sometimes romantic. He spots a group of Hispanic men struggling with a television set. alters our behavior. sometimes brutally violent. However. The street outside is a neon blur.." The world as seen from the mirror of Bickle's cab is a lonely place full of lonely people. But this "city of strangers" can just as readily lend itself to erotic nightmares. Through the Rear-View Mirror: Hollywood's spatial stories repeatedly tell us that we are a product of the spaces we inhabit. his car keys. he has no way to free himself from their unjust suspicions.html (17 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . who is constantly in movement and yet moves without purpose. chased through the streets by an angry mob. which he assumes must be stolen. the personification of New York . Travis Bickle's eyes pear intently into the rear view mirror." A series of random encounters with eccentric women strips him step by step of all the trappings of his identity . And the taxi cab scurries about the city. "It doesn't make any difference to me. Rain splatters on the windshield and the wipers swish it away. the bill ends up plastered onto a sculpture he encounters in his ramblings. they drop it and run away." He imagines the approaching apocalypse: "Some day a real rain will come and wash the scum off the streets. picking up passengers and dropping them off. Lost in a strange neighborhood. An emblem of the role of happenstance in the film. When he screams. Bickle embodies the random events and unstable http://web. Everything that happens is subject to multiple interpretations and our protagonist usually misunderstands what is happening to him. the city becomes a part of us. Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver risks incoherence in trying to tell the story of a man who sees everything and understands little. his clothing. Later in the film. Red and blue flashing lights illuminate the human figures that bob in slow motion along steamy streets. After Hours (1985).. and he holds it in horror and contempt: "All of the animals come out at night. venturing into Soho during the wee hours of the morning.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. Everything seems connected to everything else.his wallet. In Taxi Driver (1976). in Scorsese's film. "different rules apply when it gets this late. As one character warns him. a young adventurer encounters a mysterious woman at an all-night Laundromat and gets pulled into her story. we do not remain separate from it. Robbed of his identity. nothing coheres or makes much sense in this farce about contemporary urban alienation. the twenty dollar bill he is clutching blows out the window of the fast-moving cab leaving him no way to pay his tab and no way to get back home. even his hair (punk rockers threaten to give him a Mohawk). redefines our identities. he has no friends or families he can draw upon for support or assistance. It turns out that both men are normally criminals but they have actually bought this set: "See what happens when you pay for stuff.mit. As we move through the city.

hidden forces. smoke-filled rooms. We see the world partly through his front windshield. we imagine urban life as controlled by secret societies. Prokas suggests.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. constantly shifting his goals and tactics. but more often remain blurry and indistinct. naked and without any memories. and often totally invisible. The forces shaping urban experience are complex. transient. The city is mutating before our eyes. "mixed like paints. Yet. Dark City (Alex Prokas. all of coherence has broken down into a fragmented.until nobody knows who he is anymore. multidirectional. The eyes of New York are upon him. dark hooded figures creep among us. so that when we awake we are enmeshed in a different life. expand into domes. None of this makes any sense. conscious while others sleep.html (18 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . different pasts. different eras. As one of the characters explains." The protagonist awakens. leaving a path of bloody bodies. become part of an alternative narrative. all rolled into one. We watch new buildings rise from the concrete. conspiracies. the city follows a secret logic. Our memories are distilled. The Dark City is not New York. imprinting new memories. offering no reliable way of understanding who we are and what is happening to us. almost cubist image. changing our clothes." Dark City makes stunning use of morphing to literally restructure the city before our eyes. flashes of light and color that sometimes take shape into something we recognize. not any place in particular. "They steal people's memories and swap them between us -. "fashioned on stolen memories. For the newspapers. when his violent impulses are redirected from his plans to assassinate a presidential candidate and towards the task of rescuing a young prostitute. The scene is almost abstract. The film artists try to reconcile their focus on the totality of the urban environment and their fascination with the complex interplay between multiple experiences. It has been. its citizens are manipulated by hidden forces.back and forth. partially through his rearview mirror. http://web." and then re-injected into us. back and forth -. depicting urban space as an incomprehensible maze. moving us from place to place. By the film's closing images. their belief in urban progress and their anxiety about the collapse of old social institutions.mit. Such tensions run through our attempts to theorize the city and to give it aesthetic form. He shoots his way into the brothel. Bickle has become a hero. Old buildings grow window ledges. While the city sleeps. The current popularity of conspiracy theories in popular culture suggests our compelling need to personify the governing forces behind urban life and our fear that they may not be directly observed or readily mapped. Anticlimax: Hollywood's spatial stories struggle to balance their utopian and dystopian conceptions of the city. The parts only come together retrospectively.Henry Jenkins social relations of urban culture. nothing matters. however. sitting in a dazed and confused state until the police arrive to take him away. we have been told. Nevertheless. which recalls the stylized and subjective representations of New York that Frank Stella created in the 1920s and 1930s. Nothing remains the same. 1997) offers a noir-ish vision of the postmodern city.

between the urban environment experienced as ordered or as random and chaotic. between the city understood as a totality or as heterogeneity. sharing a collective memory. One detective has been driven mad by the complexity of this city. In the neo-noir Dark City. his circles do contain the pattern that holds all of this together. they can hover over the city streets peering down at the pedestrians. a story of the city. waiting impatiently at police stations. This project has inspired -. thus. In a classic noir. They are the very embodiment of urban experience as a totality. they hope to understand the individuality that makes us human.they dwell in secret places underneath the city.the imagination of America's greatest filmmakers. They. people walking down sidewalks. they can walk among us without being seen.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. His search for truth promised to untangle the web of relationships that link the story's various characters. There is no structure. What this paper has described is the struggle to give shape and form to urban experience. map its labyrinthian streets. of a deterministic logic that allows little or no room for particular experience. They are the ones who move the hands of the clock. alone.Henry Jenkins observing but not fully comprehending other people's behavior as he pears through their windows. record its protean activities.mit. There's no way out. The story of the city can't be told . The city is controlled by the Strangers. pursuing their own particular paths without regard to each other. the detective was a lone individual who understood better than anyone else the code of the city." Though he never understands what he has discovered. wandering aimlessly through museums. only simultaneous activities. no coherence.the conflict between abstraction and particularity. linking an early shot of rats being run through a circular maze with the great clock which controls the waking and sleeping of the citizens and with our final image of the city -. they have no hope of finding answers. "I've been spending time in the subway. uses the struggle against the Strangers to personify the core conflicts that have run through this essay -. His search for an explanation is mirrored by the detectives and their serial murder investigation (which may or may not lead back to him).a spiral of skyscrapers arranging on a flat surface floating in the vast emptiness of space.at least not as a totality. the detectives do not have a clue.html (19 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . enjoy absolute mobility -. thinking in circles. Through a process of experimentation. riding in circles. who set the rhythms of urban experience.and arguably. defeated . who personify de Certeau's "alien" or "celestial" perspective. in the end. I've been over every inch of the city. they are interchangeable. pushing their way onto subway trains. standing in their windows. There is no single vision which can express and contain our complex and contradictory feelings http://web. scrawling endless spirals and scribbling cryptic words on his apartment walls. Dark City. to find its rhythms. If there is. and give it an cohesive identity. they are its authors and its architects. They are hooded figures with featureless faces and bald heads. But there is a conspiratorial logic here.

the features around which so many spatial stories arise and play themselves out. The principal quality might be sequential continuity in which each part flows from the next -. one could imagine that there might be a way of creating a whole pattern. only provisional vantage points which offer a succession of near perfect images of urban life.html (20 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] . There are only ways of seeing. and viewers could traverse each narrative and observe their points of intersection and digression. Could we as spectators comprehend such a story? Would we have time or the interest to experience the complex interweavings of its various plot strands? Could we feel its rhythms and witness the unfolding of random chance. it would not need to be a highly unified pattern with a single center or an isolating boundary. Henry imagined in New York City were all recorded. one that was truly totalizing in its perspective. a pattern that would only gradually be sensed and developed by sequential experiences. reversed and interrupted as they might be. Suppose we could represent at once the abstract patterns of movement and the particular journeys. nodes and landmarks. Suppose a future artist were to construct such a hypertext. Lynch seems to suggest that the city itself might be structured as a hypertext. romantic predestination. Lynch imagines the city as given ideal expression in a multilinear and polysequential form. Though Lynch would not have had access to the analogy in 1959. but suppose that the hypertext gave us a more perfect representation of the city precisely because it was multilinear and interactive. searches.perspective. and tours that motivated individual experience. one in which the four million stories that O. mentally traversible in any order. edges.mit.a sense of interconnectedness at any level or in any direction. and urban indifference? Could we stand over the sum total of human experience as if it were a panorama or a picture postcard? This would be a truly celestial --and inhuman -. districts. For a few paragraphs.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan. http://web. There is a curious passage near the end of The Image of The City where Lynch tries to imagine an alternative form that might preserve his own sense of the multiplicity of urban meanings and experiences while achieving the legibility and clarity that was central to his aesthetic conception of the city. There would be particular zones that for any one individual might be more intensely felt or organized. Kevin Lynch arrived at almost the same place. Suppose the structuring elements of this hypertext were Lynch's various paths. Lynch imagines something akin to hypertext: Intuitively. but the region would be continuous. This possibility is a highly speculative one: no satisfactory concrete examples come to mind. Suppose this artist were to construct the perfect model of the urban experience. Although felt as a whole.Henry Jenkins towards the American metropolis.

mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/manhattan.html (21 of 21) [2007-06-28 02:18:49] .Henry Jenkins http://web.

The All American Handful Professor Jenkins Goes to Washington By Henry Jenkins This is the story of how a mild mannered MIT Professor ended up being called before Congress to testify about "selling violence to our children" and what it is like to testify. Turned out that the people testifying were all anti-popular culture types. I've been getting calls to talk about video game violence. the story comes out and there's a long section discussing one or another of a seemingly endless string of anti-popular culture critics and then a few short comments by me rebutting what they said. ranging from Joseph Lieberman to William Bennett. The Christian Science Monitor. But these calls came at one or two a week all fall and most of spring term. I am finding myself denounced in The Wall Street Journal op-ed page for a fuzzy headed liberal who blames the violence on "social problems" rather than media images. or industry spokesmen. These stories always follow the same pattern. culture. I am getting calls back to back from the LA TIMES." and so forth. Here is one of the most economically significant sectors of the entertainment industry and here is the real beach head in our efforts to build new forms of interactive storytelling as part of popular.S. about the place of games in "boy culture. ever since my book. etc. Then. But all the media wants to talk about is video game violence.edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins... The Village Voice. A few times. about the opening up of the girls game market. I talk with an intelligent reporter who gives every sign of getting what the issues are all about. Where to start? For the past several months. I would be the only media scholar who did not come from the "media effects" tradition and the only one who was not representing http://web. etc. We were trying to start a conversation about gender. Senate to see if I would be willing to fly to Washington with just a few days notice to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee hearings. So. etc. Time. from Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games appeared. I got more attention but not most. rather than avant-garde. then. they increased dramatically. And. It isn't a central focus of the book. each of which feared me with greater dread. the call came from the U. Suddenly. I asked a few basic questions. but the media only wants to talk about violence. Then. with the Littleton shootings. really.mit. we are finding ourselves in a national witch hunt to determine which form of popular culture is to blame for the mass murders and video games seemed like a better candidate than most.html (1 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . The New York Times.

And I pulled an all-nighter to write the damn thing that was really long because I didn't have time to write short. I wore a trenchcoat (beige. The Senate chamber was decorated with massive posters of video game ads for some of the most violent games on the market. Goth kids harassed for wearing subcultural symbols and pushed into therapy. I was running a major conference the next day and then I would have one day to pull together my written testimony for the Senate. Smith Goes to Washington most of all -. And I promised myself that when I was an adult. Shari Goldin. Suddenly. So. And I wanted to do something to help get the word out that this was going on. I didn't have much in my own writings I could draw on. I was also a sucker for Frank Capra movies -. who was then a state legislature and now a member of the Commerce Committee) and sent us out to government meetings to observe. the situation was even worse than I had imagined. And to make arrangements for a last minute trip. to get it proofed. I scanned the web. it didn't take me long to say yes. Many of the ad slogans are hyperbolic -. When I got there. and sent off to Congress. in elementary school I wore a black vampire cape and a medallion around my neck to school.and selfparodying -. this was a chance. hell. I was picked on mercilessly by the rednecks who went to my school and I spent a lot of time nursing wounds.but that nuance was lost on the Senators who read them all dead seriously http://web. that I had no chance of being heard.html (2 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . A flashback: When I was in high school. Kids suspended for writing the wrong ideas in essays or raising them in class discussions. from an essentially homophonic environment." My first thought was that this was a total setup. I worked with my colleague. Kids pushed off line by their parents. I would do what I could to speak up about the problems of free speech in our schools. I also had been reading Jon Katz' amazing coverage on the web of the crackdown in schools across America on free speech and expression in the wake of the shootings.Mr. who taught us about our government by bringing in government leaders for us to question (among them Max Cleveland. Betty Leslein. I pulled together what I had. edited. I was the editor of the school paper and got into fights over press censorship.and films like 1776 which dealt with people who took risks for what they believed. I had an amazing high school teacher. not black).edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. revised. both emotional and some physical. And then. I sent out a call for some goth friends to tell me what they felt I should say to Congress about their community and a number of them stayed up late into the night sending me information. It felt important to speak out on these issues.The All American Handful popular culture as a "social problem. and gradually all of this came to my mind as reasons to do it and not reasons to avoid speaking. that nobody would be sympathetic to what I had to say.mit.

between Casino and Saving Private Ryan.. the senators are making homophobic jokes about whether Marilyn Manson is "a he or a she" that I thought went out in the 1960s. Most of the others testifying were professional witnesses who had done this kind of thing many times before.The All American Handful and with absolute literalness. One by one. we reach the hour when the reporters have to call in their stories if they are going to make the afternoon addition and so they are heading for the door. These strike me as precisely the kind of intolerant and taunting comments that these kids must have gotten in school because they dressed differently or acted oddly in comparison with their more conformist classmates.. Lieberman. They had each other for moral support. Basketball Diaries is an important film. Women in the audience are gasping in horror. The fantasy sequence from The Basketball Diaries reduced to 20 seconds of Leonardo DiCaprio blasting away kids. I am trying to keep my distance from the media industry types because I don't want to be perceived as an apologist for the industry -. It's down to the C-Span camerawoman and a few reporters from the game industry trade press.html (3 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] .even though. I try to introduce myself to the other witnesses. They had their staff. the Archbishop from Littleton. Hatch. Grossman. They all feel they have to distance themselves from popular culture. They all feel they have to make "reasonable" proposals that edge up towards censorship but never quite cross the constitutional lines. http://web. By this point. won't shake my hand when I wave it in front of him. The opening sequence from Scream reduced to its most visceral elements. given the way this was set up. They had their props. The hearings start and one by one the senators speak. Bennett. I had my wife and son in the back of the room. It is political suicide to come out against the dominant position in the room. they were my closest allies in the room. This is set up so you can either be anti-popular culture or pro-industry and the thought that as citizens we might have legitimate investments in the culture we consume was beyond anyone's comprehension. Clear and Present Danger is a right wing potboiler! Scorsese is bad but Spielberg is good? Meanwhile. They had professionally edited videos. Bennett starts to show video clips which removed from context seem especially horrific. Bennett starts going on and on about "surely we can agree upon some meaningful distinctions here. the military psychologist who thinks video games are training our kids to be killers. There was almost no difference between Republicans and Democrats on this one..mit. being tracked down by the major media and no one is talking to me." I am just astonished by the sheer absurdity of this claim which breaks down to a pure ideological distinction that has neither aesthetic credibility nor any relationship to the media effects debate..edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. between The Basketball Diaries and Clear and Present Danger. they speak.. setting up interviews. They are passing out press releases. The senators cover their faces with mock dread.

explaining that he didn't mention this was a film about a poet. how violence operates in stories. Grossman starts to attack me personally. I talked about the ways these hearings grew out of the fear adults have of their own children and especially their fear of digital media and technological change. I talked about how reductive the media effects paradigm is as a way of understanding consumer's relations to popular culture.The All American Handful And then I am called to the witness stand.html (4 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . really low chair and it is really puffy so you sit on it and your butt just keeps sinking and suddenly the tabletop is up to your chest. and that the scene was a fantasy intended to express the rage felt by many students in our schools and not something the character does. And I suddenly can't read my writing." I talked about the stuff that Jon Katz had been reporting about the crackdown on youth culture in schools across the country and I ended with an ad-libbed line. My throat is dry. It takes me a while for the attacks to sink in because they are so far off the mark. I attacked some of the extreme rhetoric being leveled against the goths. I have never felt such fear. Cold sweat is pouring over me. especially a line in TIME from a GOP hack that we needed "goth control" not "gun control. how media is consumed. I am surprisingly calm while the other people speak. I am a media scholar who has spent more than 15 years studying and writing about popular culture and I do think I have some expertise at this point on how culture works. claiming that a "journalism" professor and a "film critic" have no knowledge of social problems. Now. It's like the chairs they make parents sit in when they go to talk to elementary school teachers. I have visions of the cowardly lion running down the halls in OZ escaping the great blazing head of the wizard. It is a really. someone who struggles between dark urges and creativity. the chair is something nobody talks about. don't fear them. http://web. and then Senator Brownback calls my name. I try to speak and can hardly get the words out. And that's what I was speaking about. I am trying to read and the words are fuzzing out on the page.mit..edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. and utter terror rushes through my body. I am not a journalism professor and I am not a film critic. Most of them are handwritten anyway by this point because I kept revising and editing until the last minute. how media panics are started. etc. how symbols relate to real world events. let alone something the film advocates. And the whole power dynamics is terrifying. etc. But there's no turning back and so I speak and gradually my words gain force and I find my voice and I debating the congress about what they are trying to do to our culture. I take on Bennett about his distorted use of The Basketball Diaries clip. waited. "listen to your children. The Senators on the other hand sit on risers peering down at you from above." Then. I talked about the fact that youth culture was becoming more visible but its core themes and values had remained pretty constant. I reach for a glass of water and my hands are trembling so hard that I spill water all over the nice table. I am doing OK with all of this.

having had some staff person find him a surprisingly banal line from an ad for a goth nightclub which urged people to "explore the dark side. I am also the father of a high school senior and the house master of a MIT dormitory housing 150 students.mit. I'd like to believe that. What follows is the text of my oral remarks that are rather different from the written statement because I was still doing research and writing on the airplane. their strong sense of community. The key thing was that I got a statement into the record that was able to say more than I could in five minutes and people can now read it on the web. The Children's Culture Reader and From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games deal centrally with the questions before this committee. People would see this was a witch hunt of sorts. I know the fight isn't over -. I am Henry Jenkins. the Aesthetics. their mournful posturing. And suddenly I feel better and better about what had happened. their expression of alienation." And I explained what I knew about goths.html (5 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . their roots in romanticism and in the aesthetic movement. I spent my life talking with kids about their culture http://web. I had spoken out about something that mattered to me in the halls of national power and people out there had heard my message.edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. I have published six books and more than fifty essays on various aspects of popular culture.at least I hope it isn't.The All American Handful The Senator decided to take me on about the goths. but enough. Someone wrote me that it was all the more powerful to have one rational voice amid a totally lopsided panel of extremists. I just wanted to get out of there. their commitment to acceptance. I talked about how symbols could be used to express many things and that we needed to understand what these symbols meant to these kids. and said that they were actually healthy and well adjusted folks underneath but they were enjoying playing dark and soulful. because it spoofed the original goths. I spoke about Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience as a work that spoke to the current debate. But several people stopped me in the hallway to thank me. Director of The MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. but I felt like I had scored some victory just by being there and speaking. I felt no one had heard what I had to say and that I had been a poor messenger because I had stumbled over my words. My most recent books. their nonviolence." And then he gave up and shuffled me off the stand. And dozens more have sent me e-mail since having seen it on C-Span or heard it on the radio or seen the transcript on the web or heard about it from friends. The press warmed around the anti-violence speakers but didn't seem to want to talk to me. for their black garb. The Senator tried repeating his question as if he couldn't believe I wasn't shocked by the very concept of giving yourself over to the "dark side. not all of them certainly. There will be more chances to speak.

and found there images that emphasized the power of friendship. comics. their maladjustment. including many of the same media products that have been cited in the Littleton case. films. I think meaningful distinctions require us to look at images in context. Well. their antisocial impulses. All of us move nomadically across the media landscape.The All American Handful and I have come here today to share with you some of what I have learned. Far from being victims of video games.edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. From what Bennett just showed you. The massacre at Littleton. their desires to hurt those who had hurt them. television programs. not looking at 20 second clips in isolation. you would have no idea that The Basketball Diaries was a film about a poet. the importance of community.html (6 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . videogames. that it was an autobiographical work about a man who had struggled between dark urges and creative desires. The mass media didn't make Harris and Klebold violent and destructive and it didn't make this girl creative and sociable but it provided them both with the raw materials necessary to construct their fantasies. She had produced an enormous array of poems and short stories drawing on characters from popular culture and had gotten many other kids nationwide to contribute. the wonder of first romance. that the book on which it was based was taught in high school literature classes.mit." which has long dominated such hearings. Harris and Klebold were drawn toward dark and brutal images that they invested with their personal demons. The key issue isn't what the media are doing to our children but rather what our children are doing with the media. cobbling together a personal mythology of symbols and stories taken from many different places. The vocabulary of "media effects. Though they were written for no class. strips them of their contexts. William Bennett just asked us if we can make meaningful distinctions between different kinds of violent entertainment. http://web. not something he acts upon and not something the film endorses. Media effects research most often empties media images of their meanings. We invest those appropriated materials with various personal and subcultural meanings. Colorado has provoked national soul searching. She had reached into contemporary youth culture. But we are only going to find valid answers if we ask the right questions. We all want answers. has been challenged by numerous American and international scholars as an inadequate and simplistic representation of media consumption and popular culture. Shortly after I learned about the shootings. and denies their consumers any agency over their use. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had a complex relationship to many forms of popular culture. They consumed music. these stories would have brightened the spirit of writing teachers. I received e-mail for a 16 year old girl who shared with me her web site. and that the scene we saw was a fantasy which expressed his frustrations about the school.

The intentionally cryptic nature of these symbols often means adults invest them with all of our worst fears. Children fourteen and under now constitute roughly 30 percent of The American population. But many teens are required to return day after day to schools where they are ridiculed and taunted and sometimes physically abused by their classmates. But popular culture is only one influence on our children's imaginations. I believe this moral panic is pumped up by three factors. As one Littleton teen explained. for many "outcasts. the fantasies shaping contemporary video games are not profoundly different from those that shaped http://web. School administrators are slow to respond to their distress and typically can offer few strategies for making the abuse stop. They are a peaceful subculture committed to tolerance of diversity and providing a sheltering community for others who have been hurt. goths aren't monsters. Real life trumps media images every time. a demographic group larger than the baby boom itself. including our fear that our children are breaking away from us. But many also perceive their children's on-line time as socially isolating. The Internet is no more to blame for the Columbine shootings than the telephone is to blame for the Lindbergh kidnappings.html (7 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . monstrously inappropriate when GOP strategist Mike Murphy advocates "goth control" not "gun control. However spooky looking they may seem to some adults. Adults are feeling more and more estranged from the dominant forms of popular culture. which now reflect their children's values rather than their own.edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. they would go back to Eric and Dylan's house and plot a little more. hurtful. 3) The increased visibility of youth culture." 2) Adult fears of new technologies. Popular culture has become one of the central battlegrounds through which teens stake out a claim on their own autonomy from their parents. or displeasing.mit. We can shut down a video game if it is ugly. Adolescent symbols from zoot suits to goth amulets define the boundaries between generations." We need to engage in a rational conversation about the nature of the culture children consume but not in the current climate of moral panic. The Washington Post reported that 82 percent of Americans cite the Internet as a potential cause for the shootings. Many adults see computers as necessary tools for educational and professional development. Despite our unfamiliarity with this new technology. "Everytime someone slammed them against a locker or threw a bottle at them. 1) Our fears of adolescents. however. However. Such statistics suggest adult anxiety about the current rate of technological change." the on-line world offers an alternative support network. It is.The All American Handful Of course. But that doesn't mean that these symbols carry all of these same meanings for our children. helping them find someone out there somewhere who doesn't think they are a geek. we should be concerned about the content of our culture and we all learn things from The mass media.

Rather than teaching children to be more tolerant. These factors may shape the policies that emerge from this committee but if they do. Journalist Jon Katz has described a backlash against popular culture in our high schools. I urge this committee to listen to youth voices about this controversy and have submitted a selection of responses from young people as part of my extended testimony. they will lead us down the wrong path. American mothers are now confronting directly the messy business of turning boys into men in our culture and they are alarmed at what they are seeing. Banning black trenchcoats or abolishing violent video games doesn't get us anywhere.The All American Handful backyard play a generation ago. and that self expression should be constrained. http://web.edu/cms/People/henry3/profjenkins. that individuality should be punished. Students are being suspended for displaying cultural symbols or expressing controversial views. Parents are cutting their children off from on-line friends.not the causes. Boys have always enjoyed blood and thunder entertainment.mit. high school teachers and administrators are teaching students that difference is dangerous. always enjoyed risk-taking and rough housing. Don't fear them. out of adult view. Schools are shutting down student net access. But the fact that they are seeing it at all means that we can talk about it and shape it in a way that was impossible when it was hidden from view. but these activities often took place in vacant lots or backyards. In this polarized climate. We are afraid of our children.html (8 of 8) [2007-06-28 02:21:43] . And we suddenly can't avoid either. In a world where children have diminished access to play space. We're pushing this culture further and further underground and thus further and further from our understanding. We are afraid of their reactions to digital media. Katz chillingly documents the consequences of adult ignorance and fear of our children's culture. Listen to our children. it becomes IMPOSSIBLE for young people to explain to us what their popular culture means to them. These are the symbols of youth alienation and rage -.

http://web. FDR's fireside chats -. What we didn't hear were thousands of overlapping voices as amateur radio operators shouted their call letters and their messages into home-made crystal sets. Contact. 1997 The recent science fiction film. makes it impossible to imagine radio outside corporate control. All in the Family.html (1 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:25:35] . who perfected the technology.the release of the Iran Hostages. The Beatles. opens with a dramatization of how sound waves travel through space. Contact lost the chance to increase public awareness of an age when participatory radio was the norm. the end of World War II.Contacting The Past Contacting the Past: Early Radio and the Digital Revolution by Henry Jenkins 1. in this case. What we didn't hear were the dots and dashes made by Marconi and countless other experimenters. As the camera pulls back through our solar system.482 words posted: december 3. Contact. Perhaps. rather than a marginal recreation. Yet. In choosing not to reference the era of amateur radio. Milton Berle. this erasure of broadcast history is perplexing when you consider how often Contact returns to the image of ham radio. mask the erasure of history. the filmmakers concluded that such sounds would be too arcane for a mass audience.and then.edu/m-i-t/articles/jenkins. the silent void of space.mit. The casual viewer of the film might assume radio begin sometime in the late 1920s and early 1930s. confusing rather than illuminating. amateur and professional. a corporate product. the soundtrack goes back into time. The sounds of silence. already operating within a national system of commercial broadcasting. although its operators are more interested in communicating with the dead or with space aliens than with each other. past landmark moments in the history of broadcasting -.

Or alternatively. if we are going to make meaningful predictions about digital media's actual impact.in this case. we run the risk of losing it all to corporate interests. The digital revolution will facilitate participatory democracy. allowing free expression and broad access to information. pornography and cybersex.edu/m-i-t/articles/jenkins. digital media. knowledge transfer. and once again. We live in an age where our ideas are evaluated on their own merits. fraud. as our innocent children are exposed to video game violence. we are seeing the potential for a broad-based participatory medium. gender. political activism. if we are going to take full advantage of its potential for community-building. We can all find a home on the net. Once again. The digital revolution. we are told. rarely has it been confronted with much historical consciousness. the digital revolution will destroy the American home.html (2 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:25:35] . if we are going to make intelligent decisions about its regulation and its financing. then we http://web.Contacting The Past Widespread ignorance of this history has tremendous consequences at the present moment. and escapism. we are discussing the prospects of utopian or apocalyptic change wrought by an emerging communications technology -. some place where everyone knows your name. The digital revolution will free us from national governments. a world where nobody knows you're a dog. Once again. or personal appearance. Newsweek and CNN. If we are going to chart a middle path between utopianism and media-bashing.mit. and self expression. The digital revolution will isolate us from real world communities and real world politics. This is the world according to Wired and Mondo 2000. we are now citizens of the "global village" or free minds afloat in cyberspace. race. not on the basis of visual markers like age. the digital revolution has been met with sensationalism and overstatement. This the world according to Time. Everywhere we turn. The digital revolution will destroy the rational culture of the book and replace it with the chatter of second-rate minds. The digital revolution will sweep aside the gatekeepers. will enable us to participate in virtual communities which overcome the alienation and isolation of contemporary urban life. cyberspace is a nether world of illusionism.

cultural and economic impulses that are fueling the digital revolution sparked most previous communications revolutions. That means. radio was sold as a participatory medium. humanists. Here. we need to know more about human interactions with technologies. feelings. and we are not going to respond adequately to those challenges unless we take both sides seriously.Contacting The Past need to study the past. From the start. and building media's future. amateur use http://web. and social sciences on the other. it would would give rise to a new and more democratic culture. designing. From 1906 to 1912. Radio would enable everyday citizens to communicate their ideas. Early advocates like Hugo Gernsback spun elaborate fantasies about a world radically transformed through better communications and transportation. many assumed there would be as many transmitters as receivers. and experiences. political.one holding the book." bringing in remote signals. we need to find ways around the great divide between the "two cultures. at MIT. arts. we need to be engaged in a systematic dialogue among historians. We can't just talk about interactive technologies." they spoke of "fishing the ether.html (3 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:25:35] . they wanted contact with the mother countries they left behind.mit." between science and engineering on one side and the humanities. the other holding tools --need to turn around and talk with each other! The challenges confronting us are both technological and cultural. As the North American continent was settled. Radio was one of many communication technologies promoted as bringing the world into our parlor. we required technologies that met the challenge of reaching out and communicating with other Americans across massive distances. we will discover that the same social.edu/m-i-t/articles/jenkins. and social scientists knowledgeable about media's past and those who are imagining. listening to faraway conversations. The two guys on the MIT seal -. Many built their own crystal sets and joined an expanding amateur radio culture. matters of hardware and software and matters of community and democracy. And. and participating in geographicallydispersed communities. If we look to the past. Much as we now talk of "surfing the web. Americans demanded participation in the political and cultural debates shaping their democratic republic.

the Communication's Decency Act.NBC and CBS -. even if we can now speak back in cyberspace. to protect the growing interests of the broadcast companies. with pranksters tapping into government or military communications channels. with the airwaves literally clogged with signals. including increased government regulation of the airwaves intended to secure governmental and military communications during World War I and.html (4 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:25:35] . By the early 1920s. This media concentration expands the rule of cultural gatekeepers over what messages get into broad circulation.in the hands of four or five major multinational conglomerates such as Viacom and Warners Communications Inc. increased government interest in regulating cyberspace. rather than engage in conversation.newspapers. film production companies. transmitting false information. Many factors contributed to this change. Most consumers found it easier to buy sparkling clean radio receivers. Problems arose. cable outlets. the growth of push-advertising. and they were content to listen to entertainment and news.the overloading of AOL. and there was growing concern about radio's moral content. radio stations.edu/m-i-t/articles/jenkins. Learning more about this history can help us to identify the forces which caused a dramatic shift in radio's use from a grassroots medium to a more centralized system of commercial broadcasting. poor for cyber democracy). The more one reads about the amateur radio culture of the early 1900s. http://web. There are early warning signs that something similar might happen to digital culture -. made to look like nice furniture. or assuming fake identities. The attractiveness of radio as a means of spreading advertising messages also played a central role in displacing its grassroots use. then. rather than to build their own transmitters. While we've been busy celebrating the net's participatory dimensions. television networks. corporate mergers concentrated most of our national media resources -. -.mit.Contacting The Past dominated the technology. Our contemporary talk radio may be the last vestige of this earlier participatory ideal.which still rule television today. radio was dominated by two national networks -. and the development of low cost technologies which enable us to point-and-click but not to type (great for home shopping. the more strongly one sees parallels with the cyberculture of the late 20th century. etc.

including speakers. Many factors indicate that the digital revolution will have a more enduring social. Rev 1. which examines the social. apathy. 21L:015 Introduction to Media Studies. and readings by noted science fiction writers. cultural.0 WebPosted: wayne johnnie ´ Back to Articles Page http://web. conferences.edu/m-i-t/articles/jenkins. Yet. sponsored by the Media in Transition Project and funded by the Markle Foundation. film screenings. MIT needs to take the lead in educating not only our own community but the broader public about the emerging digital culture and its historical context.mit. Students who would like to know more about these issues are encouraged to enroll in a new HASS-D subject.Contacting The Past I don't mean to sound like a prophet of doom. cultural.html (5 of 5) [2007-06-28 02:25:35] . and political impact of communications technologies from Homer to cyberspace. and political impact than the amateur radio movement did. and self-confidence blind us to real threats to maintaining a broad-based participatory media. All members of the MIT community are encouraged to learn more about media studies through a year-long series of events. ignorance.

Untitled Document Saturday. Cambridge Community TV (CCTV) Howard Lurie. Facing History and Ourselves.10:55 am Break http://web. CMS visiting scholar. Saluda Elementary.html (1 of 3) [2007-06-28 02:27:10] . Bldg. and Ralph Summer. Where's the Media? Models for Creating and Distributing Teacher. S. Next Generation "Virtual Environment" Technologies for Enhanced Learning 10:15 -10:45 am (Rooms to be assigned) Conference divides into discussion sessions led by: ● ● ● ● Jo-Ann Castano. February 3 8:30 . Facing History on the Web 10:45 .and Student-Made Digital Media Mark Kelsey and Kris Kay. Encouraging Women in Technology Mary Hopper. Castano Design Associates.C.. Harvard GSE. 51 EMERGING MODELS OF LEARNING Keynote: Chris Dede.edu/m-i-t/conferences/classroom/agenda_1.mit.9 am Bldg. 51 9 -10:15 am Wong Aud. Registration in Ting Foyer.

3:25 3:25 . The Three Ts of Cyberethics in Schools Mark Destler. 12:30 -1:30 pm Ting Foyer 1:30 . Walker.Untitled Document 10:55 -11:25 am 11:25 .3:15 pm (Rooms to be assigned) Conference divides into discussion sessions led by: ● ● ● ● Jerry Crystal.5:15 pm Break Rotate discussion sessions Break General discussion Break http://web. Xavier University. Bernardston Elementary.12:30 pm Wong Aud.5 pm Wong Aud. Media and Technology Charter High School (MATCH) Mary Leyden. LA. George Lucas Foundation 2:45 . Bloomfield.mit. Rotate discussion sessions Break General discussion Bag lunch MEDIA LITERACY Keynote: Bonnie Bracey. CT. MA.11:35 am 11:35 am .4:05 pm 4:05 . What a Tangled Web We Weave: Media Literacy. Carmen Arace Middle School. Symbol Systems and Learning 3:15 .2:45 pm Wong Aud. Candid Candidates Vera L.3:55 pm 3:55 .edu/m-i-t/conferences/classroom/agenda_1. 5 .html (2 of 3) [2007-06-28 02:27:10] .

edu/m-i-t/conferences/classroom/agenda_1.6:30 pm Wong Aud.mit. Screening of student-produced films http://web.Untitled Document 5:15 .html (3 of 3) [2007-06-28 02:27:10] .

presented the Republican keynote address. While their political visions were dramatically different. Susan Ruby." the camera consistently showed the first daughter. Susan Molinari. Both conventions offered classic stagings of parental concern. to the podium for her mother to hold before the cheering crowds. These close-ups of Susan Ruby and Chelsea rendered explicit the implicit politics of these occasions. they brought the baby. the images of children they evoked. giving us concrete images to anchor more abstract claims about childhood and the family. After the speech. Congresswoman from Queens. Both gatherings focused as much on childhood and the family as on tax cuts or other traditional issues. The cameras were equally obliging when the first lady. and the rhetorical purposes they served.Henry Jenkins "THE INNOCENT CHILD AND OTHER MODERN MYTHS" by Henry Jenkins INTRODUCTION In the Summer of 1996. while the Democrats wanted to show they still felt our pain after Clinton's support for devastating welfare cutbacks. Hillary Clinton. The Republicans wanted to overcome the gender gap.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. Both Susan and Hillary gained authority from their status as "moms" and both supported their agendas by referencing their children. were remarkably similar. Chelsea as visible proof of Hillary and Bill's success as parents. Hillary and her handlers hoped to shift public attention from her controversial role in shaping health care policy onto her more traditional concern for America's children. Neither could resist the attractions of the innocent child. Network camera crews dutifully provided close-ups of her husband and her father hugging the newborn. speaking as a misty-eyed and perky young "mom" about how her daughter's recent birth had refocused her political priorities. addressed the Democratic convention several weeks later. When she spoke about the nation as a "family. Both Molinari and Clinton tapped into an established mythology of childhood innocence in the late 20th http://web.html (1 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . the Democratic Party held its presidential nominating convention in Chicago and the Republican Party held its convention in San Diego.mit.

as James Kincaid notes. desires nothing. it does not provide us tools for critiquing the cultural power invested in childhood innocence.mit. Until recently. in reality. cultural studies has said little about the politics of the child. The myth of childhood innocence. we are constantly urged to take action to protect our children. Because developmental psychology focuses on defining and encouraging "normative" development. pre-social. The innocent child carries the rhetorical force of such arguments.Henry Jenkins century. we imagine them to be noncombatants who we protect from the harsh realities of the adult world. above. as without any sexuality that queer and feminist critics might investigate. children are the ones on the front lines of school integration. outside of the political. as without any political agency of the kinds that ethnographers of subcultures document. We opportunistically evoke the figure of the innocent child as a "human shield" against criticism." on their need for protection and nurturing. including the mudsplattering of partisan politics. the "misbehavior" of children is almost never understood in similar terms. the ones who pay the price of welfare reform. Children are understood as "asocial or perhaps. which subjects youth culture to intense sociological scrutiny while seeing childhood as a fit subject only for developmental psychology.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. and demands nothing -. Children also have suffered the material consequences of our decisions. "empties" the child of its own political agency.except. Kincaid critiques the idea that childhood innocence is something pre-existing . so that it may more perfectly fulfill the symbolic demands we make upon it.html (2 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . This historic split has started to break down over the past five or six http://web. from the economic reforms of the Progressive Era (which sought to protect immigrant children from the sweatshop owners) and the social readjustments of the Civil Rights Era (which often circulated around the images of black and white children playing together) to contemporary anxieties about the digital revolution (which often depicts the wide-eyed child as subject to the corruptions of cybersex and porn websites). This dominant conception of childhood innocence presumes that children exist in a space beyond. Sociological critics focus on the "deviance" and "destructiveness" of youth cultures. Carey Bazalgette and David Buckingham identify a "division of labor" within academic research. Like everyone else." While we often celebrate the "resistant" behaviors of youth cultures as subversive. their "irresponsibility" or the "rituals" of their subcultural "resistance. as without any concealed meanings of the sort that ideological critics might excavate. The innocent child wants nothing.an "eternal" condition -. childhood innocence is a cultural myth that must be "inculcated and enforced" upon children." resulting in an emphasis on their "inadequacies." Rather." "immaturity" and "irrationality. its own innocence. almost every major political battle of the 20th century has been fought on the backs of our children. Yet. we have a lot invested in seeing childhood as banal and transparent. perhaps.which must be "protected.

html (3 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . Yet. children's literature. public policy and the like. adult identities. it will challenge some key assumptions behind those reform movements.mit. computers. or education manage not to talk about children or childhood at all. At a time when Republican crime bills would try children as adults and toss them into federal prisons or when we want to motivate state action against child abuse. and media studies in recent years. Internet expression and queer politics. In this introductory essay. The Children's Culture Reader is intended to both explore what the figure of the child means to adults and offer a more complex account of children's own cultural lives. social and cultural history.Henry Jenkins years. anthropology. rejecting the myth of childhood innocence in order to better map the power relations between children and adults. women's studies. Given the wealth of material about childhood which has emerged in sociology. especially in moving beyond powerful old binarisms about adult corruption and victimized children. as more and more cultural scholars examine childhood. will be centrally about childhood. The essays in The Children's Culture Reader. Any meaningful political response to this conservative agenda must reassess childhood innocence. This marginalization effects not only how we understand the child. Such myths have survived because they are useful. and how children construct their cultural and social identities. schooling. This book is not intended as a guidebook for media and social reformers. mass marketing. advertising. not a series of attacks on the corrupting force of mass culture on children's lives. on the other hand. its social agency. about how our culture defines what it means to be a child. This book avoids texts that see children primarily as victims in favor of works that recognize and respect their social and political agency. useful for the left as well as for conservative and patriarchal agendas. images of innocent and victimized children are our most powerful weapon. its cultural contexts. fatherhood.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. pedagogy. literary criticism. it seems important to identify what this collection won't do. which often circles around the specter of the innocent child. and its relations to powerful institutions but also how we understand adult politics. pedagogical theory. media reform. A surprising number of the essays written about children's media. the right increasingly draws on a vocabulary of child protection as the bulwark of their campaign against multiculturalism. adult culture. Rather. Some may question the "political stakes" in studying the child. how adult institutions impact on children's lives. I outline work on children's culture across a range of http://web. feminism. and adult society. It will not be a collection of essays centered primarily around issues of motherhood. though all of these topics will be explored in so far as they impact contemporary and historical understandings of childhood.

. are active participants in that process of defining their identities. In the closing section. Children's culture is a site of conflicting values. and expectations. As Susan Stewart suggests. and (3)studies of children as cultural and social agents.mit. and innocent.. our culture imagines childhood as a utopian space. with no http://web. separate from adult cares and worries. Too often. goals. When children struggle to reclaim dignity in the face of a schoolyard taunt or confront inequalities in their parents' incomes.Henry Jenkins disciplines and suggest some of this research's implications for thinking about contemporary cultural politics. more fluid in its identity and its access to the realms of imagination. I return to the question of the politics of childhood and outline some of the implications of this research. pure. to return to some place we've never been. and to reclaim a lost object we never possessed.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. and in the end. waiting to be corrupted or protected by adults. and how they will understand their place in the world. PART ONE THE "FORT" AND THE "VILLAGE": THE POLITICS OF FAMILY VALUES "The child was there waiting. In short. Each of the next three sections of this introduction takes one of those strands as its central focus. As Henry Giroux has argued: "Children's culture is a sphere where entertainment. In doing so. no less than adults. though they join those interactions from positions of unequal power. more just. how they will behave. Such a conception of the child dips freely in the politics of nostalgia. closer to nature and the primitive world. nor is it a free space of individual expression. This book assumes that childhood is not timeless." Children. but rather subject to the same historical shifts and institutional factors that shape all human experience. advocacy and pleasure meet to construct conceptions of what it means to be a child occupying a combination of gender. Our grownup fantasies of childhood as a simple space crumbles when we recognize the complexity of the forces shaping our children's lives and defining who they will be. nostalgia takes us to never-neverland. nostalgia is the desire to recreate something that has never existed before. free from sexuality. they are engaged with politics just as surely as adults are when they fight back against homophobia or join a labor union. outside social divisions.html (4 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] .defenseless and alluring. beyond historical change. racial and class positions in society. (2)historical research into our shifting understanding of the relations between children and adults. Children's culture is not the result of purely top-down forces of ideological and institutional control. I will identify what I see as three major strands in recent writings about childhood: (1)the examination of the meanings which children carry for adults.

For Clinton. that wouldn't last long." which "passed down" from generation to generation. between the past and the future.S. if loved or loving.. the child could be a repository of cultural needs or fears not adequately disposed of elsewhere. if angelic.becomes an emblem for our anxieties about the passing of time. the child represents our "bridge to the 21st century.James Kincaid. Molinari told how her grandfather had "bundled up a young son and left Italy in search of a dream. use their children to "carry things. that too would pass. death would take him or. the very impermanence of childhood. the destruction of historical formations. enabling her to conceive of a better world -. if disobedient. the child is a figure of nostalgic remorse. while for Susan Molinari. The innocent child is caught somewhere over the rainbow -between nostalgia and utopian optimism. I will examine the convention speeches of Molinari and Clinton as embodying different ideological strategies for mobilizing the figure of the innocent child. her. more likely. threatened by the prospect of unregulated change. in our rhetoric. the child represents our link to the past. the child embodies change. both literally and metaphorically. in Kincaid's sense.Henry Jenkins substance." -. Congress.a new "village" -that must be built in the present. The child carries for us things we somehow cannot carry for ourselves. that heart could be ripped out and a new one planted there in no time. the innocent child is most often figured in relation to the past. endangered by modernity. whose violated innocence demands that parents "hold down the fort" against contemporary culture. there was always the whipping cure. or conversely. For Hillary Clinton. a vehicle for our hopes for the future. As Kincaid writes: "If the child had a wicked heart from birth. In this section. no independent insistences. sometimes anxieties we want to be divorced from and sometimes pleasures so great we would not. and denied things previous generations took for granted." As Kincaid acknowledges.. is always in the process of becoming something else. enables many different symbolic uses: "Any meaning would stick but no meaning would stick for long.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. without the child. If the child was ignorant. As a category created but not occupied. until "a seat in a Queen's barbershop led to a seat in the U." Often." Childhood -. The American (Heterosexual) Dream Within the Republican ideology of family values.mit. carrying forth family tradition and "the American Dream" in a troubled world." an "American dream. both women. For Molinari. no threatening history. its threat and its potential." http://web.html (5 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . the child is a figure of the utopian imagination. its status as a transitional (and fragile) moment in our life cycle. The child." the catalyst transforming uncontrollable change into meaningful progress.. But. know how to contain them.a temporary state -.

while the failure to father was seen as evidence of maladjustment. This common-sensical connection between heterosexuality and childhood innocence undergirds the exercise of homophobia in the late 20th century.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild." If having children became proof of mature heterosexuality. the story of heterosexual courtship and reproduction: "find a job. Far from an incidental detail.mit. towards the "real pressures" which prevent modern moms and dads from achieving their parent's dreams. one that erases -. The idea that only heterosexuals can bear -. Barbara Ehrenreich's The Hearts of Men offers a somewhat more critical account of this 1950s era version of the "American dream. The Politics of Motherhood For a moment." "normal" adult men were expected to do. at the same time. and. homosexuality. "fear of homosexuality kept heterosexual men in line as husbands and breadwinners. Molinari argues. Molinari's version of the "American Dream" represents a more benign version of these arguments. then. at core. The shock that occurs when queerness and children's culture come together shaped the Southern Baptist Convention's choice of Disney as the target of its campaign against corporations that provide health insurance for domestic partners. marry your sweetheart." This "American" dream has become harder to achieve in the face of crippling taxes and other assaults upon the family. immaturity. While Ehrenreich's book recounts the breakdown of this formulation over the past three decades of male-female relations.was regarded as a horrifying contamination. The http://web.Henry Jenkins Her "American dream" was. Molinari can't resist the tug of the myth of the innocent child as an agent of progress.html (6 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] .or should raise -. its persistence in Molinari's speech." Psychological discourse of the period made the reproductive imperative not only a social obligation but a test of maturation and sexual normality. always build a better life for your children. The birth of her daughter. the association with failure and immaturity made it almost impossible for homosexual men to assert a positive image of themselves. The image of the crazed pedophile threatens the employment rights of gay teachers and led to a campaign to get Bert and Ernie banned from Sesame Street because of their "unnatural" relations. Getting married and having children became one of those things "mature. it is hardly surprising that the reverse -. and often.rather than denounces -homosexuality as an aspect of American family life.the prospect of homosexuals having access to children ." However. and in Republican rhetoric more generally. the conservative logic of her argument pulls her back towards the present as a decline from a past golden age. the child surfaces here both as a reward for living the right life and as a responsibility heterosexuals bear. Ehrenreich notes. buy a home and maybe start a business and in the process. have children. suggests it is still a powerful tool for enforcing normative assumptions about gender roles and sexual identities.children shapes custody decisions which deny lesbian mothers access to their offspring. makes her "think a little less about how the world is and a little more about the world you'll leave behind for your children.

at the kindergarten door. this maternal politics also restricted women's political voice to a narrow range of issues associated with children." The threat is transformed: it is no longer unequal gender relations. afraid to let go of that small hand clinging so tightly onto theirs. a vocabulary for linking their experiences.mit." Women could gain economic autonomy only by shifting child-rearing burdens within the family and only by gaining greater control over the reproductive process. As one early suffrage leader explained. The figure of the defenseless child has been consistently mobilized in both support of and in opposition to American feminism. This maternal politics. only to retreat back towards a more traditional solution: "I don't know a mom today who isn't stretched to her limits trying to hold down a job and trying to hold down the fort too. motherhood was the role that defined their social. The revitalization of American feminism in the 1960s and 1970s often focused around issues of abortion. with those of other women. and political identity.. home and family. who came mostly from the upper and middle classes. their attempts to enter political and economic life have often been framed in terms of possible impacts on children and the family. and other family issues. Molinari hesitates. or "domestic feminism. Well. she suggests. child custody. for many women.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. is a world which places our innocent children at risk: "Every morning they [parents] hesitate. Hillary Clinton evoked this rhetorical tradition of sisterly solidarity through http://web. economic. Decades later. Fatherhood is one role among many for most men. Early suffrage leaders represented their campaign for the vote in the late 19th and early 20th century as a logical extension of their responsibilities as mothers to shield the home from the corruptions of the outside world. middle class women's entry into identity politics emerged from consciousness raising strategies and the recognition that the "personal is the political. across class and racial divides. which renders working "moms" miserable. Speaking as mothers gave the early feminists." Yet.." focused its attention on issues of alcoholism and prostitution and on the social conditions faced by the children of the urban poor.html (7 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] .Henry Jenkins modern world. but the idea of working outside the home.. even if only for a moment. poverty or unfair conditions of employment. Since women have carried special responsibilities for bearing and caring for children." For a moment. "The Age of Feminism is also the age of the child. How many times have we said to ourselves that there just aren't enough hours in a day. gesturing towards feminist protests against the unreasonable expectations placed on contemporary women. Her speech sees returning to the home as the natural desire of all women and depicts women's professional lives as an unwanted obligation that better tax policies would render unnecessary. historically. daycare. the Republicans can't promise you any more hours in your day but we can help you spend more hours at home with your children.

Henry Jenkins motherhood when she told her convention audience.. Adopting characteristically military metaphors. just us. it is perhaps not surprising that when Molinari claimed common cause with other working mothers. The figure of the absent mother." Dan Quayle's 1992 attacks on Murphy Brown's status as an unwed mother became a major campaign issue. Less than a year after she delivered the keynote address at the Republican national convention. the heightened public discourse about maternalism has also provided a weapon for criticizing female politicians as "bad mothers" when they place too much attention on issues not directly linked to childhood or the family. Yet." In her convention speech. Colin Powell. joking that she might appear at the Democratic convention arm in arm with "Benti the child-saving gorilla from the Brookfield Zoo. talking about our hopes and fears for our children's futures.html (8 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . it was in part to urge their return to the kitchen table. Two of Clinton's choices to become the first female Attorney General of the United States were ultimately withdrawn because of public controversy surrounding their child-rearing arrangements. The Suffering Father and the Unhappy Child Republican formulations of the innocent child depict the home as "a fort" where mothers and fathers must protect their children from the chaos of modern life. she made fun of the need to reposition herself as a mother. "I wish we could be sitting around a kitchen table. questions rarely if ever raised in considering the confirmation of male cabinet appointments." ACT expressed impatience with the demands for traditional media effects research and spoke with "common sense" about the impact of media on their own children's lives. spoke to the Republican convention about the need for families to remain strong in order to: "withstand the assaults of contemporary life. the neglectful mother. Molinari herself resigned from the U.S.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. Hillary Clinton was sharply criticized for the public roles she played in her husband's administration and for her flip remarks about not wanting to be reduced to "baking cookies. the former general. So. the mother who abandons her children for political and economic ambition.mit. Congress to accept a job as a network anchorwoman. for example.resist the images of http://web." This tradition of maternal feminism has given urgency to female politicians when they speak on behalf of children. Heather Hendershot has shown. justifying her choice on the grounds that it would allow her to spend more time with her daughter. always shadows the use of the maternal voice in American politics.. that Action for Children's Television gained attention from the press and from the Federal Communications Commission in the 1970s because it could speak as a group of "mothers from Newton.

So. who stood behind him. also presupposes that the primary threat to our children comes from outside." which sharpens our fears and anxieties about outside forces. for example.. lets the family itself off the hook." This formulation.. pension plans. It often masks class and racial divisiveness. The linkage between fatherhood and bread winning. He was attended by his young son. is nine years old and he has never seen his father move his arms or legs but when he puts his soft hands to his father's face I feel the promise of America and when he looks into my eyes I know that he can see the pride of America. he explained: "My son. while most cases of violence against children and most cases of "missing children" can be traced back to family members.. but twentieth-century men have profited from their status as fathers. tax codes." If women have found a politics based on motherhood a double-edged sword. retirement programs. With a slow and pained voice. Conner McDonald. Griswold notes: "Men's virtual monopoly of bread winning has been part and parcel of male dominance. justifying both their ability to speak in the public sphere and their continued restriction to the http://web. one hand resting on his shoulder throughout the speech. educational opportunities and many more practices have bolstered men's roles as providers." Few images more perfectly capture the melodramatic qualities of this "family values" politics! One of the moment's most striking aspects was its embodiment of male vulnerability and suffering. As Robert L." This formulation of family values uses the figure of the innocent child to police boundaries between the family and the outside world. as Eric Freedman notes. [and] defeat the scourge of drugs and crime and incivility that threaten us.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. has helped legitimate men's monopoly of the most desirable jobs. The seventeenth century patriarch has long since disappeared.html (9 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] .Henry Jenkins violence and vulgarity which flood into our lives every day. If conservative ideology has tended to hold women responsible for nurturing and raising the child. mortgage and credit policies. crippled in the line of duty and now an advocate of tougher sentencing laws. despite the presence of the African-American Colin Powell as a living symbol of Republican efforts towards becoming a "party of inclusion. One of the most memorable moments of the Republican convention involved the speech of a wheelchair bound former policeman. The Republican version of "family values. insurance policies.. it sees the father as a breadwinner and as a bulwark protecting the family against the outside world.mit. too..

nation. The wounded father. There is something unnatural. his blue eyes shifting nervously. as Heininger notes." Higher taxes." The father feels "the promise of America" in his son's touch. about this spectacle of a father. institution. meant a grandmother might be unable to call her grandchild or a parent might be unable to buy her child a book." Throughout the 1996 campaign. the discourse of childhood innocence has historically provided powerful tools for criticizing the "vicious. justifying their continued presence in public life. rendering arguments about the First Amendment beside the point. As Mary Lynn Stevens Heininger notes. the "dead-beat dad. "If we lose our kids to cyberporn. As Kincaid argues. who can not wrap strong arms around his needful son. the abdication of duty and the abandonment of children. is treated as an aberration .a breakdown of the family wage system.Henry Jenkins domestic sphere." Young Conner. materialistic. the figure of the "pristine" child has been an "indispensable element of American optimism": "It is precisely because the young are untainted that the nation can willingly vest in them its best hopes. While the charge of being a negligent mother can be directed against any woman entering into politics. free speech won't matter." only now emerging as a political category. explains their negligible role in childrearing. the rock upon http://web. then. drugs. At the same time. an indictment of somebody: parent. which." The innocent child was to be protected at "all costs. his blond hair slicked down. intensify our horror over the breakdown of law and order.html (10 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . Dole proclaimed: "After the virtual devastation of the American family. men have found fatherhood a win-win situation. Children serve as "soft and smiling foils to a more grim and grownup reality." This ideologically powerful assumption allows us to direct anger against any social force that makes our children unhappy. who struggles to still believe in the "pride" of his nation. The speech precariously balances the image of Conner as already damaged by a harsh world against the image of Conner (and his unblemished innocence) as potentially healing that world.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. and the wide-eyed son. abortion. As Heininger explains. it followed that happiness should be their natural state. Bob Dole consistently characterized liberal politics and counter-cultural "social experiments" in terms of the threats they posed to our children: "crime. As one letter to Time explained. and immoral qualities of American society. who desperately wants to care for his son but is unable to do so. Dole argued.mit." The horrors of modernity are magnified through children's innocent eyes. illegitimacy. "because simplicity and innocence were considered to be children's most distinguishing characteristics." The figure of the endangered child surfaced powerfully in campaigns for the Communications Decency Act. appearing as a hypnotized young face awash in the eerie glow of the computer terminal on the cover of Time. "an unhappy child was and is unnatural. Evoking the title of Hillary Clinton's best-selling book. personifies suffering innocence and its rebuke against the adult order. in turn.

edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. Griswold calls the discourse of "New Fatherhood" in post-war America. While historically. after a near-fatal accident. images of Clinton marveling over Chelsea's birth or Gore attending his son. Hillary's law review essays defending the concept of "children's rights" and her participation in Marian Edelman's Children Defense Fund were ruthlessly attacked at the 1992 Republican convention by Marilyn Quayle and Barbara Bush as too "extremist" for a proper first lady. and the state is characteristic of a Republican rhetoric which reduces the problems of children to those confronted and solved by volunteerism and by individual families. gentler conception of the patriarch emerges from what Robert L.has been central to the "New Democrat" strategy of the Clinton Administration.. the collective and thus the state -.mit. This kinder. While she acknowledged in her writing that "the phrase 'children's rights' is a slogan in search of definition.Henry Jenkins which this country was founded. including. Sounding like many cultural critics of childhood innocence. I am here to tell you." Dole's slippage between the village. Clinton and the other "New Democrats" embraced a broader range of social units.that is. surfaced throughout speeches and campaign biographies." Hillary Rodham presented a powerful case for reconsidering how the courts and other legal institutions dealt with children's issues. Of course.html (11 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . adopting a post-feminist construction of the nurturing father watching over his children's bedside.to raise a child. the collective. The 1992 Democratic Party convention was framed around rethinking the concept of the family to reflect the diverse ways Americans live in the 1990s. the idea that gay and lesbian couples might constitute viable families. while Hillary Clinton's shifts between domestic and public sphere politics provoke controversy. fathers could gain power and authority from their public roles as breadwinners. at least briefly. we are told it takes the village -.and thus "taking the issue off the table" -. Rodham wrote: "No other group is so totally dependent for its well-being on choices http://web. While Griswold sees this shift as a response to the expanded economic role of women in the workplace and to feminist critiques of the family. such as the Communications Decency Act. he acknowledges that this new style of fatherhood often does not mean reciprocity of responsibilities.it takes a family. Clinton and Gore retooled ancient conceptions of the leader as a law-giving patriarch. "Sensitive" male politicians can freely embrace the domestic sphere without becoming trapped there. many Republican solutions. Dole frames government action as the threat that makes children's lives miserable.. It doesn't take a village to raise a child . they could now also get credit for their more private roles as educators and nurturers. depend upon the policing power of the village! Democratic Family Values Reworking conservative "family values" rhetoric -.

html (12 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . curfews. But the phenomenon must also be seen as part of the organization and ideology of the political system itself. one constituted through its mutual concern for children as much-needed agents of future progress.and should . children are not able to exercise normal constituency powers. Hillary's village metaphor emerges from a politics of communitarianism. intellectual. articulating self-interests to politicians and working towards specific goals. and psychological incapacities of (some) children which render them weaker than (some) older persons. one consistent with her husband's unstable compromise between Republican pressures towards de-federalization and traditional liberal conceptions of government activism. Obviously this dependency can be explained to a significant degree by the physical. she calls a new community into being. And our government can -and should -.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. It Takes a Village.provide the eyes and enforcement to watch over them." She stressed the need of children to have a more powerful voice in custody disputes. she evokes a middle ground between "the state" and the private. in which the community maintains a social contract to insure the well-being of its members. a reduction of the role of politics in public life in favor of an exclusive focus on individual experience -. a contract sometimes met by volunteerism and sometimes by government policy: "Home can -. and argued for greater procedural protections for juveniles charged with criminal violations. The Clinton version of "family values" relocates the family within a revitalized public sphere. insisted on an expanded conception of their rights to free expression.be a bedrock for any child. Her new approach to "family values" was consistent with the Clinton administration's endorsement of school uniforms. Her book." Her book acknowledges the breakdown of traditional communities and the potential for new kinds of communities emerging in responses to changing technological and economic conditions. When Hillary speaks of the "village" and its responsibility for children. with its evocation of the organic communities of small http://web.and should -. Forming the New Village Lauren Berlant has argued that the Republican "family values" agenda involves a "downsizing" of the public sphere. Lacking even the basic power to vote. Rather than calling upon the community to preserve its traditional roles in protecting children. Republican critics felt that her arguments depended on state authorities to protect children's interests even in the face of parental opposition and thus undermined the sovereignty of the family. Communities can -.on a politics of personal responsibilities and self-interest rather than one of the collective good.mit. reworked some of these earlier arguments. formally and informally. and the V Chip. The village metaphor. Republican critics still found within the book's more banal prose signs of the state power central to her earlier formulations.Henry Jenkins made by others. shifting from a discourse of children's rights to a language of parental responsibility.create and uphold the laws that set standards of safety for us all.

is that all of us care about our children. The village we build with them in mind will be a better place for us all. Just as it takes a village to raise a child. as we work together to create a "nation that does not just talk about family values but acts in ways that values family." Their united efforts on behalf of childhood innocence become the basis for a utopian revitalization of the nation.and of course.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. the Democratic version sees the individual and the community as vitally and positively linked.. one widely used in Afrocentric pedagogy.and AsianAmericans for their votes and their campaign contributions. first and foremost. depends upon the historic linkage of childhood innocence to pastoralism (an image that can be traced back to Rousseau and the Romantics.or police officers working to help kids stay out of trouble") but also on individual action ("volunteers tutoring and coaching children. it takes children to raise up a village to become all it should be. but the future of the village depends upon its shared commitments to children. Race. Hillary Clinton evoked an image of a national community where: "Right now in our biggest cities and our smallest towns there are boys and girls being tucked gently into their beds and there are boys and girls who have no one to call Mom and Dad and no place to call home.not only as vulnerable beings in need of love and care but as a moral touchstone amidst the complexity and contentiousness of modern life.Henry Jenkins town American life. it is not simply that children need the village. In her speech to the convention. This image of transformation is explicit in the final paragraph of her book: "Nothing is more important to our shared future than the well-being of children.." Her vision of a world where "we are all part of one family" depends on state actions (such as "dedicated teachers preparing their lessons for the new school year." For Clinton.) If the Republican formulation of family values pits the "collective" against the family.") These community members work together against various threats: "gang leaders and drug pushers on the corners of their neighborhoods.mit. as the book's title could not have http://web.. the needs of children must somehow be removed from the realm of the political and into a space of shared understanding and communal action.html (13 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] .. her choice of an African proverb. smoking and drinking. parents." What unites the haves and the have-nots.. according to this account. Therefore.a popular culture that glamorizes sex and violence. Imperialism and the Child At a time when the Democratic Party was actively courting African.. For children are at our core -.

Hillary Clinton depicts childhood as an escape from racial antagonism when she recalls the old hymn. bleaching away Edelman's racial and class specificity.often posed school busing as a violation of childhood innocence. the most persistent image of the innocent child is that of a white.html (14 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . At the same time. and changing national leadership priorities. For several generations. born without prejudice. while Hillary engages in what Jacqueline Rose describes as the "impossible fiction" of the universalized child. Hillary cites Marian Wright Edelman. all well-dressed.mit. especially those surrounding school desegregation. all smiling.from rural Alabama to South Boston -. as a cynical bureaucratic http://web. "Jesus Loves Me.Henry Jenkins been an accident." At the same time." Edelman had been sharply critical of Clinton's capitulation to the Republicans on welfare reform. while the markers of middle classness.. Edelman recognizes that suffering occurs most often to particular children. The implications of this "Family of Man"-style image are complex: the photograph envisions a utopian community united despite racial differences. Asian American. the African-American woman who is the founder and head of the Children's Defense Fund as a mentor and friend. black.. blue-eyed. economic recession. marked by racial and class differences. progressive civil rights policies. boy.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. red." which finds "all the children of the world. It Takes A Village adopts a multicultural variant of this universalized child. In our culture. depicting Hillary on the back cover surrounded by children of all different racial and ethnic background. she retreats from the explicit links Edelman draws between children's plight and racial politics." Her cover photo mimics classic pictures of Jesus "suffering the children." She wonders how "anyone who ever sang" this song "could dislike someone solely on for the color of their skin. all squeaky clean. might escape racial boundaries. As Shari Goldin notes. Edelman connects present day struggles on behalf of children with the legacy of Martin Luther King's civil rights movement: "We must put social and economic underpinnings beneath the millions of African-American. blond-haired. and masculinity are read as standing for all children. Latino. school desegregation advocates promote the image of black and white children interacting freely together on the playgrounds and in the schoolrooms as the advanced guard for tomorrow's "color blind" society. have rested on the hope that children. yellow. White and Native American children left behind when the promise of the civil rights laws and the significant progress of the 1960s and 70s in alleviating poverty were eclipsed by the Vietnam War. precious in His sight. and white . someone like Conner. segregationists -. while at the same time. a decision which she estimated would place 5 million more children into poverty. whiteness.

" In each case. Moreover. The same week that Congress passed welfare reform." Within this protectionist rhetoric. unreliable and willful and thus.html (15 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . linking (either implicitly or explicitly) anxieties about violence. who backed the welfare reform effort. the attacks on popular culture shift attention away from material problems effecting children and onto the symbolic terrain. President Clinton met with television executives to set up a ratings system and Bob Dole went to Hollywood to attack movie violence. which he calls the "nightmare before Christmas." "scapegoats" and "hostages" of a "liberal agenda." Such paternalism framed the official politics of colonial domination and the unofficial politics of racial bigotry.' social reformers typically justified their own position as cultural custodians." Racism. has focused congressional attention on the problem of video game violence. "By evoking the 'threat to children. has mobilized our hopes and fears for our children. dominant ideologies of racism and colonialism have often mapped onto racial and cultural others the image of the child as: "an inferior version of the adult -. Both the Republican and Democratic versions of family values presuppose the innocent child as requiring adult protection. white domination was presented as a rational (and benign) response to the "immaturity" of nonwhite peoples.mit. they both speak for the child who is http://web. Common Ground Both the Republican and Democratic formulations of "family values" cast popular culture as a social problem. sexuality and morality to mandates of good taste and artistic merit. roughly on the same level as crime and drugs.Henry Jenkins "experiment" which turned children into "guinea pigs. taste distinctions get transformed into moral issues. As Lynn Spigel and Henry Jenkins write. the myth of childhood innocence has helped to erect or preserve cultural hierarchies. Throughout the twentieth century. no less than the Civil Rights movement. with the desire to shelter children's "purity" providing a rationale for censorship and regulation. dismissing popular culture in favor of middle-brow or high cultural works viewed more appropriate for children. Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. as a being who needs to be guided. protected and educated as a ward. spontaneous. thus accounting for the bipartisan attacks against Hollywood. it becomes difficult to pull back and examine these cultural issues from other perspectives.as a lovable. as Ashis Nandy has suggested. delicate being who is also simultaneously dependent. Asian and African adults were often ascribed with the childlikeness of good "obedient" children or the childishness of bad "rebellious" children. Once the innocent child has been evoked.

or even consciously conceive of it as an issue. Both the Republican and Democratic visions presume a clear separation between childhood and adulthood. and even as we use the threat of adult sexuality to regulate children's bodies. This essentialized conception of the innocent child frees it of the taint of adult sexuality. In this next section. Three-month old Susan Ruby was too young to talk." -. one reason it can carry so many contradictory meanings is that our modern sense of the child is a palimpsest of ideas http://web.mit. I will move beyond contemporary debates between Republicans and Democrats to frame the concept of childhood innocence in a larger historiographic context. with different rights and responsibilities ascribed to each phase of human development. this particular conception of childhood innocence is of fairly recent historical origins. This historical conception of the innocent child is eternal. The myth of childhood innocence depends upon our ability to locate such a break. class and racial differences. even if it holds those differences in place.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. Young Conner remains mute as his father speaks of his own sufferings and those of his son. This universalized conception of the innocent child effaces gender. but they act upon their assumptions in all of their dealings with. PART TWO THE HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF THE CHILD "Members of any society carry within themselves a working definition of childhood. precisely so that we can use it to regulate cultural hierarchies. its nature. "protecting" her from the glare of the public spotlight.Karin Calvert Our modern conception of the innocent child presumes its universality across historical periods and across widely divergent cultures. as well as upon our sense of nostalgic loss when we cross irreversibly into adulthood. even as we use it to police adult sexuality. for example). and expectations of their children. the innocent child has a history. As the next section will suggest. we point to its presence in our children. a figure that transforms culture into nature. In fact. fears for. while the Clintons turned down Chelsea's request to speak at the convention. When we want to prove that something is so basic to human nature that it can not be changed (the differences between the genders. Like all myths. in Roland Barthes' sense of the word.html (16 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . limitations and duration. write about it. even as our political rhetoric poses childhood as constantly under threat and always on the verge of "disappearing" altogether. This decontextualized conception of the innocent child exists outside of culture.Henry Jenkins assumed to be incapable of speaking for herself. to separate the impure influence of popular culture from the sanctifying touch of high culture. In short. They may not explicitly discuss this definition. The pre-socialized child exists in a state of nature. the innocent child is a myth.

The Origins of Childhood Philippe Aries begins his book. Some subsequent historians. have pushed beyond Aries' account to suggest that pre-modern parents had little attachment to their children. The idea of the child as innocent first took shape.html (17 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . simply a brief phase of dependency passed over quickly and bearing little special importance. In this section. with the startling statement that childhood -. sexual contact between children and adults. within pedagogical literature. I will not trace a single lineage of the myth of the child. Children participated fully in all of the activities of the adult world. Out of the future-orientation of capitalism came a new focus on child rearing and pedagogy. but the category of child did not. and casual nudity. one part medieval and one part modern. since few passed beyond this stage in an era of extraordinary mortality. a task well beyond the scope of this essay. sharing rooms and beds. this ideal rationalized the learned class's expanded social role and efforts to police their culture. less inhibited. I will outline how various historians have approached this question and will examine the most prevalent meanings that have stuck to the semiotically-adhesive child.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. was taken for granted well into the ancient regime. As Aries notes. however. Centuries of Childhood. yet there seemed little need to separate them out as a social category.mit. Aries argues. The emerging bourgeois classes placed particular importance on the education and rearing of their sons as preparation for participation in the market economy. one part Victorian. As the conception of a child as separate from an adult took shape. Other historians suggest alternative or supplementary explanations for this modern conception of the child. treating them with neglect and abuse. These claims have been sharply criticized by other historians as going well beyond available evidence.at least as we currently understand it -. dirty jokes. as accrue additional meanings around what remains one of our most culturally potent signifiers. it still did not bear connotations of innocence. The importance of Aries' research may not depend on whether he is correct on every particular: his book opened a space for examining the social construction of childhood http://web. Children were assumed to be closer to the body. notably Lawrence Stone and Lloyd de Mause. Childhood was not a cultural preoccupation. the child became central to the discussion of transfer of property and the rights of inheritance. since those who could fend for themselves were treated as small adults.one part Romantic. touching and stroking of the genitals. One key factor was the emergence of commercial capitalism and the rise of the middle classes. helping to justifying a specialized body of knowledge centered around the education and inculcation of the young.did not exist prior to the Middle Ages. Rather. We do not so much discard old conceptions of the child.Henry Jenkins from different historical contexts -. The category of the infant existed. unlikely to be corrupted by adult knowledge. and thus.

children led precarious lives confronting the harsh conditions of frontier settlement.we desire it and we want to help children to move beyond it. to use Aries's terms. becoming part of what defines us as human. In The Civilizing Process. the child comes of age in a context of fear and shame. Calvert argues." In such a culture. and a lack of sufficient nourishment. who are initially perceived as operating outside the civilized order. "childhood illnesses. This emerging distinction between child and adult also played a central role in shaping and regulating adult behavior. As Aries notes: "The idea of childish innocence resulted in two kinds of attitude and behavior towards childhood: firstly. Norbert Elias describes the gradual "refinement" of manners and etiquette as the upper classes adopted modes of behavior which separated them from the lower classes." Such a culture had little nostalgia for childhood. such as John Kasson . These fluctuations determine whether parents "discipline" or "coddle" children. have pointed to historical fluctuations during which society loosened or tightened its control over body and affect. According to Elias. are internalized. subject to high infant mortality rates. safeguarding it against pollution by life and particularly by the sexuality tolerated if not approved of among adults. However. However.mit. In the first phase. Karin Calvert locates three distinct shifts in the cultural understanding and adult regulation of American childhood between 1600-1900. they must be transmitted to children. and secondly. while the adults were obligated to shape the child into conformity with social norms. We may see a contradiction here. whether they react to violations of adult norms with horror or amusement.Henry Jenkins as an ongoing historical process and for questioning dominant constructions of childhood innocence. but subsequently.html (18 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . The child behaved in ways that adults would not. we want to "coddle" the child and we want to "discipline" the child. childhood was experienced as "essentially a state of illness" or physical vulnerability: "Growing up meant growing strong and gaining sufficient autonomy to be able to take care of oneself. the cultural transmission and imitation of those norms responded to the emerging middle class's desire for social betterment and political access. Elias sees our history since the middle ages in terms of increased restraint of the body and tighter regulations of emotions. stressing the early http://web." This contradiction runs through our modern conception of childhood innocence -. necessary to facilitate participation in ever-more complex spheres of social relations. In his account. shame is the process through which social norms are internalized. Drawing her evidence both from analysis of material culture and from popular discourse about childhood.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. accidents. rules of etiquette must first be explicitly expressed and consciously imitated. for on the one hand childhood is preserved and on the other hand it is made older than its years. since these norms must be acquired. more recent historians. Or. strengthening it by developing character and reason.

but unripe and tasteless and liable to early decay." The child was emblematic of "freedom from social convention and utilitarian calculation." Adulthood was understood as corruption and formal education as an instrument that deforms the child's development. Child rearing practices sought to "hasten" selfsufficiency. adults did not simply take pleasure in childhood." This new myth of childhood innocence served. thinking.Henry Jenkins acceptance of adult responsibilities.. Childhood was seen as a period of "freedom" before the anticipated constraints of adult civilization and so parents valued the "childishness" of their children. such as William Blake or Jean.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild." http://web. this new paradigm viewed excessive parental intervention as producing invalid children.. As Calvert notes: "Childhood was imbued with an almost sacred character. in part. and the inevitable loss of childhood itself was a kind of expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Around the turn of the 18th century. Childhood was now perceived as a period of "robust health" during which "natural forces" took their course. from 1830-1900. Children were pure and innocent beings. as the basis for criticism of modernity and the breakdown of traditional forms of family and community life. As Rousseau argues: "Nature intends that children shall be children before they are men.Childhood has its own methods of seeing.. descended from heaven and unsullied by worldly corruption. allowing the young to grow into vital adulthood. parents saw themselves as protecting their children from natural threats. The loss of this childish innocence was akin to the loss of virginity. engaged in a "primitivist " celebration of children's "spontaneous feeling and intense experience.Jacques Rousseau.mit." If before. and feeling. Romantic thinkers. If we insist on reversing this order we shall have fruit early indeed. attitudes shifted dramatically. with a "growing confidence in the rationality of nature.html (19 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . In the third phase. envied children's close relations to nature and their freedom from adult constraints. our recognition of a fundamental difference between children and adults did not predetermine what significance got attached to that difference. Nothing shows less sense than to try to substitute our own methods for these. as Jackson Lears has noted. Two Traditions: The "Free" Child and the "Disciplined" Child As Calvert's account suggests. One strong tradition. they sought to prolong and shelter it as a special period of innocence from the adult world. their nonconformity to adult expectations.

one celebrating childhood freedom from adult control. The persistence of these two contradictory strands -.Exercise his body. not in teaching virtue or truth. grounded in puritan assumptions. According to Kincaid.. discipline-centered and permissive. Stanley Hall.. "the infant is like the wild http://web. simultaneously celebrated childhood freedom and advocated increased adult intervention into children's play. Another tradition. and botanical metaphors rationalize increased adult control over children's minds and bodies. Rousseau wanted to preserve children's pristine moral impulses.and thus appropriately disciplined and instructed by their elders: "Children's minds are like wax. and especially to protect children's minds from the influence of books: "The mind should be left undisturbed till its faculties have developed. these contradictions can surface within the same thinker. his senses. his limbs. such as William Buron Forbush or G. child-centered approaches. readily receiving all impressions. their willingness and eagerness to submit to adults.." (1880) "Like clay in the hands of the potter.... Progressive era child-rearing experts.. but in preserving the heart from vice and from the spirit of error.. his strength but keep his mind idle as long as you can. Yet. Forbush might state. Here children are not inherently evil -simply empty-headed -. the other insisting on the necessity of adult restraint -helps to explain the ebb and flow between authoritarian. they are waiting only to be molded. as in the young twig.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. the prevailing metaphors of Victorian child-rearing discourse emphasize the malleability of children's minds. It consists." (1882) "There is a pliability in the young mind. clay. Therefore education of the earliest years should be merely negative. focused on adult responsibility to constrain and "manage" the child.mit. which renders it apt to take any shape into which circumstances may press it.Leave childhood to ripen in your children.Henry Jenkins Rousseau's Emile outlined an approach to education that linked learning to natural sensation and material consequences rather than adult instruction and regulation." The Romantics valued the child's easy access to the world of the imagination and sought to free themselves to engage with the world in a more child-like fashion." (1818) These wax. often resulting in harsh punishment.. shaping their development in accordance with community standards.html (20 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] .

the result was a decreased demand for older boy children (deemed economically productive) and an increased demand for babies and young girls (viewed as cute and cuddly. with the interests of a savage. and it is as cruel to confine the physical activities of young children as those of squirrels and swallows. and the comics."from Rome to Reason" -. both promoted organized and supervised play activities. were accused of destroying "all respect for law and authority. the body of a savage. the soul of one. and urged the development of classroom rituals intended to foster patriotism and religion. reflected this new psychological and sociological conception of the child. "Childhood is the paradise of the race from which adult life is a fall. Public attitudes towards adoption shifted. but soon spread to all commercial culture targeted at the young. Zelizer argues. In the agrarian cultures of the 19th century. Jokes magazines and comic strips. Zelizer describes as a serious revaluation of the child within American culture. the young child was. Even in the immigrant families of turn-of-the-century New York. the primary focus of child rearing shifted towards concerns with psychological development." Yet. joke magazines. no longer taken-for-granted. Drawing on social Darwinism." Hall might state. More children meant more income. http://web. with cultural materials scrutinized for their potentially damaging effects upon children's mental health. such as the Boy Scouts or the YMCA. for example.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. With improvements in children's physical well-being . Media reform campaigns started in the late 19th and early 20th century with criticisms of series books. children were expected to contribute labor to the family farm as soon as they were physically able. compensated for the lost economic worth of child labor and quickly spread. "essentially a savage. and to no small extent. for example. became a scandal that could be mobilized in reform campaigns." Hall and his associates were remarkably literal minded in insisting that the child be pushed through the various stages of civilization -." Such attacks also reflected children's increasingly central role as consumers.) The death of children. from a culture which encouraged the "boarding out" of children as cheap labor to one that emphasized sentimental bonds between adoptive parent and child. children contributed to the household economy.html (21 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] ." "cultivating a lack of reverence" and thereby "destroy[ing ] the American homes of the future. However. the rising middle classes directed increased public pressure against child labor. either in terms of productive labor or in terms of relations of consumption. in the words of one progressive reformer. for example.mit. The sentimental conception of the child.Henry Jenkins creature of the wood." teaching "lawlessness. The "Value" of Childhood Hall's "Child Study Movement" responded to what economist Viviana A. Children were to be shielded from participation in the economy. placing new emphasis upon the child's sentimental value and pitting the ideal of the untarnished "child of God" (and of nature) against the horrors of working children.in order to gain adulthood. Attacks on popular culture.

child rearing experts promoted permissive approaches as more "democratic. ideals of sanitation or education. Bodily urges. For others.mit. Within this discourse. permissiveness represented an ideological response to the Second World War and public distaste for anything smacking of authoritarianism. the ideology of the "sacred" child also contained the roots of a consumerist ideology. the romantic conception of the free child as a utopian escape from http://web. Martha Wolfenstein saw the shift from a culture of production (with its demands for discipline and regimentation) to a culture of consumption (with its expectations of a "fun morality") as a major force shaping child-rearing practices in the 20th century. Madison Avenue. and improvements in domestic life. Permissiveness's popularity in post-war America seems all the more ironic when read in relation to the militarization of American science and education. she argues. as Stephen Kline suggests. However. In the post-war era." allowing adults to rethink their own sexuality as well. drew insight from his political involvement in the Popular Front Movement. At the same time. The Permissive Paradigm Writing in the 1950s. The core ideology behind permissiveness can be traced back to progressive currents in American thought. was partially a response to the expansion of the consumer marketplace and the prospect of suburban affluence. the need to protect innocent children fostered public concern about the arm's race and thus increased support for anti-communism at home and abroad. the cold-war.Henry Jenkins Advertising aimed at children violated the "social contract" forged during this period of sacredization.html (22 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . The emergence of permissiveness in the post-war era. the critics charge. The mobilization of children as "citizen soldiers" during the war had led parents to rethink the distribution of power within the family in political terms. Benjamin Spock. seen as dangerous and threatening in early 20th century formulations. from anthropological discoveries of Margaret Mead who stressed the more "liberated" approaches to children's sexuality found in various "primitive" cultures and from emerging ideas about "social engineering" within American sociology and psychology. The association with childhood rendered these new (and foreign) ideas "innocent. Permissive conceptions of the child embraced pleasure (especially erotic pleasure) as a positive motivation for exploration and learning. For some. the most popular child-rearing expert of the immediate post-war period. The marketing of consumer goods was coupled with parents' concerns for their children's well-being. children's relations to their parents paralleled citizens' relations to the state. many child rearing guides centered around discussions of domestic jurisprudence. The child became a central salesman for mass-marketed goods. were now regarded as benign forces which could be "redirected" into more appropriate channels. no longer viewed children as outside the sphere of economic life." as helping to prepare children for participation in the post-war era. Permissiveness represented an Americanization of Freudian psychoanalysis and its "discovery" of childhood sexuality.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. with marketing researchers exploiting each new breakthrough in child psychology to more effectively reach this lucrative market. and McCarthyism.

html (23 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . and preparing for the revival of feminist politics in the 1960s. which has been caught within conservative backlash against the 1960s "counterculture. such as the responses to industrialization Zelizer documents.mit. Historians of childhood depend upon adult records. political metaphors surface consistently in child-rearing guides. Spock's book guided their day-to-day practices. Our beliefs about childhood have some impact on our treatment of children. Similarly. while Democratic ideology tends towards "authoritative parenting" as a middle position between permissive and authoritarian approaches.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. permissive themes and images surface everywhere. American women were having children at younger and younger ages. Not surprisingly. However. Only in more recent eras does the historical record support a more dynamic account -." Republican ideology has tended to embrace a more discipline-centered approach. precisely because this shift in the power relations in the home meant a break with the way mothers and fathers had themselves been raised. Children left few direct traces of how they responded to adult expectations. most often upon records and advice from the learned classes and thus they may accurately reflect only the experience of the middle class. the child became a potent political metaphor with liberal critics characterizing Joseph McCarthy as "Dennis the Menace" and Spiro Agnew suggesting that anti-war protesters should have been "spanked" more often when they were children. as Robert Griswold notes. just as shifts in material practices. from children's programming to adult novels. In the child-centered culture of post-war America. with a guilty conscience compared to the Gestapo or parental control to "brainwashing. its mixture of "commonsense" and expert advice offered a security blanket for young and inexperienced parents.one that sees competing interests http://web." The mobilization of the image of the innocent child at the 1996 conventions reflected the continued break-down of the permissive era paradigm. At the same time. impact on our conceptual frameworks. their dislocation from urban centers towards outlying suburbs separated them from their mothers and other traditional sources of child-rearing advice. permissiveness proved a highly productive cultural discourse. young parents demanded more and more information and thus. leading. Post-War America was ripe for a new conception of parent-child relations. from advice manuals to magazine and television advertisements.Henry Jenkins adult regulation offered a way of coping with grown-up repression and conformity. towards a reconceptualization of the father as playmate rather than patriarch. This new approach to child rearing also helped to transform gender relations within the family. historical traces of individual child-rearing practices are difficult to locate prior to the 20th century. Implications and Contradictions This history of the innocent child presupposes some relationship between large-scale ideological shifts and localized practices.

Through these everyday practices. not surprisingly. Their descriptions of abusive families. the myth of the innocent child gives way to the reality of children's experience.... Faced with these uncertainties. Recent scholarship also suggests that contemporary America may be a far less "childcentered" nation than it imagines. Often. when it can account for the complex negotiations that occur during moments of cultural transition. These ideals can not be met within a changed economy that demands that both parents work outside the home or a changed social structure where more than half of American children have divorced parents. Children's culture is shaped at the global level through powerful institutions and at the local level through individual families. Joe Kincheloe locates a core "ambivalence" in American attitudes towards childhood. we focus on the individual child-abuser as an aberration rather than acknowledge what our society exacts from its children. parents. In our own times. educational videos and literary adaptations versus toy-based animated series. parents often find themselves muttering "my parents would never have let me get away with that. this video over that one. Scheper-Hughes and Stein suggests. is most convincing when it acknowledges the continued circulation of old conceptions and the emotional tug of previous practices. instead. while Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Howard F. when it sees change in gradual rather than revolutionary terms." reflecting an internal conflict between their own experience of childhood and their idealized conceptions of how children should be raised. then. Stein describe a "pathological" culture where "bad" children become scapegoats for our frustrations and guilt. and when it can acknowledge the gap between our best intentions and our worst impulses.mit.a nightmare culture which manifests itself most fully in black humor and horror movies.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. PART THREE CHILDREN'S CULTURE "Parents and children negotiate all kinds of deals over television and toys.Henry Jenkins between parents and children. and neglected children could not be further from the squeaky clean and loving ideals of permissive child rearing -.The battle lines between public versus commercial television. latchkey kids. A history of the ideology of childhood. they respond to local conditions in confused and contradictory ways. are unable to maintain consistent ideology or a coherent style of parenting. The actual business of living and parenting during these historical periods was no doubt much messier than our intellectual and social histories might suggest.html (24 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . or one more hour of viewing versus one http://web. Many contemporary parents hold themselves accountable to the ideals of the permissive family culture of the 1950s and 1960.

Far from a perversion of the Victorian era. are written by adults. Philippe Aries taught us not only that childhood has a history but that there may have been a period before childhood existed.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. At the same time. cultural critics and historians have pulled the rug out from under our prevailing cultural myths to show us that the innocent child is often a figment of adult imaginations. Rose suggests that our desire to erase children's sexuality has less to do with adult needs to suppress or regulate children's bodies than with the desire to "hold off" our "panic" at the prospect of sexualities radically different from our own." in order to locate and interpret the adult goals and desires which shape cultural production. starts by stripping away the fantasy child reader. purchased by adults. The examination of children's fiction.a projection of adult desire. Such images. Yet. James Kincaid tells us that "what the child is matters less than what we think it is. this fascination with the erotic child. surfacing in scandal sheet headlines about molestation and murder. and in popular films such as Pretty Baby. James Kincaid argues.mit. in Coppertone and Calvin Klein ads. or even the fantasy of "children of all ages." -. some benign. illustrated by adults. for their desire to "get close" to the child and to shape her thoughts and fantasies. after all. For writers like Kincaid and Mavor. offering no way to examine the social experience of actual children or to talk about the real-world consequences of these ideologies. for children.to be titillated by erotically charged images of children. while clinging to their innocence of adult sexual knowledge. both reflect his urge to arrest young girls' development at the moment when they first "bud" while forestalling the inevitable approach of adult sexuality and death. she sees the process of storytelling as one of "seduction. shocking us out of complacency and forcing us to examine the http://web. Increasingly. is utterly pervasive in our contemporary culture. Photography critic Carol Mavor has traced the complex desires which link Lewis Carroll's photographs of naked girls with his children's books. children's writers have a wide array of motives. edited by adults.html (25 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . As Rose's analysis suggests. some illicit. marketed by adults. there exists only a fictional child -. Children's fictions. and often read by adults. These interpretations reveal some of the fundamental hypocrisy surrounding childhood innocence in Victorian and contemporary culture. he suggests. the child emerges purely as a figment of pedophilic desire. allow us to have our cake and eat it too -." Jacqueline Rose suggests that behind the category of children's fiction. This displacement of the child from the center of our analysis was a necessary first step for critiquing the mythology of childhood innocence. such work often leaves children permanently out of equation.Henry Jenkins less are redrawn continually in parents' and children's daily lives. then.Ellen Seiter Many important contributions to the new scholarship about childhood have made the child disappear. pedophilia becomes a scandalous category." adults tell tales to justify their prolonged closeness to the objects of their desire.

short of providing them with the constant supervision demanded by child-rearing experts. the class projects of a Harvard undergraduate. they are playing a dangerous game. almost all representations that acknowledge children's sexuality are subject to legal sanctions. after all. Elementary schools in Wisconsin organized "secrets clubs" where children were encouraged to tell social workers about their parent's sexual and drug use habits. No one is denying that child seduction and molestation can be real problems. Courts and media reformers are taking legal actions against award-winning art films like The Tin Drum." http://web. Culture is. and hardcore pornography. and agendas. especially when coupled with equally sensationalistic accounts of latch key children and the horrors of video game/television violence. I am not denying the validity of cultural analysis that recognizes pedophilic impulses. yet there is also no question that our culture engages in a constant and indiscriminate witch-hunt against anyone who shows too much interest in such images. for social critics to ask hard questions about sexuality. Such hysteria makes it difficult for artists to question more traditional modes of depicting children. Even Kincaid has been attacked in the British press for allegedly advocating pedophilia. fantasies. Contemporary media scares about child molestation at day care centers are the latest in a long series of attempts to use the ideology of the innocent child to force working women back in the home. There is no question that our culture proliferates eroticized images of children.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. Sally Mann and Jock Sturges. leaving little space for thinking about children's own desires. Many accounts of children's culture focus almost exclusively on the exercise of adult authority over children.Childhood is a condition defined by powerlessness and dependence upon the adult community's directives and guidance. yet there are serious dangers in reducing the question of adult power over children to erotic desire. In evoking the shock of pedophilia. the means by which societies preserve and strengthen their positions in the world.html (26 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . These media campaigns leave working mothers feeling that there is no safe way to raise their children.Henry Jenkins power dynamic between children and adults. Stephen Kline denies children any role in the production of their own culture: "What might be taken as children's culture has always been primarily a matter of culture produced for and urged upon children. Strip away pedophilia and we are still left with questions about how contemporary scholarship might represent the power relations between children and adults. but the over-reporting of the most sensationalistic cases denies us any meaningful perspective for examining the actual incidence of such problems.. the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe.. as the repository of social learning and socialization. or for mothers and fathers to be certain which family photographs might become weapons in child custody battles. In such a culture.mit. For example.

" since this reading ascribes too much social autonomy to children.the mute one whose voice we must assume. Kuhn recognizes the desperation behind her mother's attempt to project her own meanings onto her daughter: "If a daughter figures for her mother as the abandoned.Henry Jenkins Children's culture is. while acknowledging her mother's fears and fantasies.as adults or as children -.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. for example. she argues. the mother. She describes popular culture as the site of contested and contradictory attempts to define the child. Walkerdine represents a larger scholarly tradition that examines the complex processes by which children acquire identities or internalize cultural norms. with material conditions determining whether or not we -. Kline's formulation rests on the familiar myth of the innocent and victimized child whom we must protect -. for example. such an account does not acknowledge. As Walkerdine notes. Children are not participants or contributors to that culture. unloved. how can mother and daughter disengage themselves from these identifications without harm.html (27 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . Valerie Walkerdine suggests that popular culture is often experienced as "the intrusion of adult sexuality into the sanitized space of childhood. since it denies children's own role in shaping and deploying these fantasies. child that she. without forfeiture of love?" In adopting the voice of the daughter. and that the http://web. Childhood Identities Writing about our fascination with eroticized images of young girls." Carolyn Steedman's The Tidy House explores how creative writing by young working class girls reveals a pained recognition of their parents' ambivalence towards child rearing. uses close readings of family photographs to explore her own struggle with her mother to define personal memory. Walkerdine would find equally simplistic any account which celebrated the working class girl's performance of erotic identities as "resistance to the position accorded her at school and in high culture. Children's culture is shaped both by adult desires and childhood fantasies. within this formulation.mit. Her autobiographical discussion becomes all the more poignant because. Steedman explains: "They knew that their parents' situation was one of poverty. Kuhn reintroduces children's experiences into the discussion of "family values.are able to enact our fantasies. as a feminist. the ways that working class girls actively embrace elements from adult erotic representations as offering a fantasy of escape from limited social opportunities or restrictive adult authority. and in some ways remains." This model is too simple. once was. Annette Kuhn's Family Secrets. However powerful it may seem as a criticism of the regulatory power of adult institutions. something that happens to children.

. Children's Culture and Adult Institutions These recent studies of childhood have generated a more complex picture of the power relations between children and adults. materially desired. social reformers. Parents.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. One limitation of our current research is that almost all such work has focused around issues of motherhood and femininity. the adult world in general. it would have been better had they never been born..Henry Jenkins presence of children only increased that poverty. Barrie Thorne suggests. regret and resentment." wondering who speaks for the rights of queer children. They knew that.as an active participant in these family dramas. we lack solid critical analysis of the relations between fathers and sons within these same critical terms. but that their presence was irritation." This tradition of feminist analysis slides back and forth between psychological and sociological investigation. exploring the charged and unstable relations between mothers and daughters in order to rethink the social and psychic dynamics of the patriarchal family. children's desires. However.They knew that children were longed for. Such analysis casts the child -." Sedgwick reviews psychological literature and clinical practices that confuse gender identification and sexual preference. that teachers' needs to routinize their procedures and to break their classes into manageably scaled groups results in a constant reinforcement of the basic binaries http://web. for example. schoolteachers.whether understood through autobiographical introspection (Family Secrets) or textual analysis and ethnographic description (The Tidy House) -.. yet few male scholars have adopted its modes of analysis to confront their own formative experiences. church leaders." Steedman reads the stories as the girls' "urgent" attempts to "understand what set of social beliefs had brought them into being. are powerfully invested in "fixing" children's identities. play. hopes. This is not surprising given women's primary responsibility for child-raising. Eve Sedgwick has explored how parental anxieties that their sons and daughters might grow up to be queer motivate the imposition of gender-specific behaviors on "tom boys" and "sissies. in some clear and uncomplicated way. and fantasies are central to the process of constructing personal identities. Feminism probably offers the best tools for initiating such a project. Sedgwick challenges efforts by the mental health profession to "maximize the possibility of a heterosexual outcome.mit. seeing inappropriate dress. fears. we need more work on the construction of masculinity through the rituals of boyhood.html (28 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . Children are subject to powerful institutions that ascribe meanings onto their minds and bodies in order to maintain social control. and mannerism as early warning signs that a child has homosexual tendencies.

On the other hand. resulting in gender divides in reading interests that carry into adult life.girls' declining self esteem. but their continued disparagement of the things girls like may contribute to -. young girls often used the dolls to rehearse funerals and mourning rituals.mit. the gift of a doll was intended to encourage girls to sew and to rehearse other "domestic arts" expected of them as future wives and mothers.rather than help to rectify -. or redefine adult prerogatives. extracts "a heavy cost in feminine self-esteem" and may be even "more restrictive of boys'. indicating both ways that dolls were valued by adults as a means of inculcating domestic skills in young girls and the ways that doll play might "subvert convention. these gender designations are not totally rigid in practice. Such an imbalance.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. Segel argues. Formanek-Brunnel suggests: "Girls in the process of constructing their own notion of girlhood engaged their parents in a pre-conscious political struggle to define. decide. she argues.. making their own uses of cultural materials. Elizabeth Segel has examined how publishers. librarians. scholarship on children's culture also acknowledges the ways children resist. and determine the meaning of dolls in their own lives and as http://web." The two forms of literature prepare girls and boys for their expected roles in adult society. may be well-meaning when they attack hyper-feminine programs like My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake. expressing a core ambivalence about their future maternal roles. freedom to read. Feminists. and educators shape children's access to different genres. Young girls often read boys books for pleasure and boys books are more consistently taught in the classroom." On the one hand. The Resistant Rituals of Childhood Without denying the tremendous cultural power behind these adult efforts to control children's identity formation." Ellen Seiter has extended Segel's analysis to the gendering of children's television. and these materials leave lasting imprints on children's social and cultural development. than within school cafeterias and playgrounds.html (29 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . Miriam FormanekBrunnel has researched the gender politics of doll play in the 19th century. transform. However. outside of adult supervision. The separation of domestic based stories for girls and adventure stories for boys re-affirm the gendering of the public and private spheres." Children are more likely to play together across gender differences in their own neighborhoods. or played with them aggressively.. chopping off their hair or driving nails through their bodies. and undermine restrictions. at least on the site of production and often at the moment of reception. Boy's books were often "chronicles of growth to manhood. and enacting their own fantasies through play. Children's culture is shaped by adult agendas and expectations.Henry Jenkins between "boys and girls. On the other." while girl's books often "depicted a curbing of autonomy in adolescence. boys typically have been reluctant to engage with books with female protagonists or feminine subject matter. the fragility of china dolls required delicate movements and nurturing gestures. mock maternalism.

Such play represents a testing of alternative identities. Shelby Ann Wolf and Shirley Brice Heath's The Braid of Literature offers a detailed description of Heath's own young daughters as readers. The Ket Aesthetic Adult control over the cultural materials which enter children's lives certainly constrains the array of ideas and identities they can use in their play. their drawings. who use the resources provided them by the adult world as raw materials for their play activities. which embrace lurid or jarring colors. yet. worms. "dyke destiny" stories suggest the inevitability of queer sexual orientation by tracing its roots back to early childhood. seeing if they fit or make sense. and discarding them when they tire of them. Many lesbians remembered transforming the fashion model into a "gender outlaw. The same girl or boy may sometimes conform and sometimes disobey." drawing on their memories of childhood doll play to frame "dyke destiny" stories. Just as the myth of childhood innocence naturalizes heterosexual assumptions about appropriate gender roles. documenting the many ways they integrated favorite books their lives. Children's books became reference points for explaining their own experiences. Maintaining a fluid relationship to adult roles. their jokes. characters. and situations. which mimic things (rats. nothing can fully block oppositional meanings from entering children's lives. Alison James has explored how children's relations to cheap candies (which are called "kets" in British slang) suggest an oppositional aesthetic. or which encourage playful and messy modes of consumption." A growing literature depicts children as active creators.) adults refuse to eat. Rand solicited and interpreted adult's memories of Barbie play. adult restrictions on play activities limit this process of ideological exploration. The young girls felt compelled not only to re-read favorite stories but to enact them with their bodies. The girls often spoofed their language. Rand encourages skepticism about such stories.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. one that challenges or reverses adult categories and carves out a kids-only culture. Children embrace candies which provoke strange sensations (bubbling or crackling on their tongues).Henry Jenkins representations of their own culture. http://web. examining the way that memory retrospectively rewrites the past to conform to our present-day identities. Adult institutions and practices make "bids" on how children will understand themselves and the world around them. Rand sees a constant struggle within children's culture (and within adult memories of childhood) between moments of hegemonic incorporation and moments of resistance. finding that these recollections often circle around unsanctioned and often erotically charged play." Erica Rand's Barbie's Queer Accessories suggests such localized resistance continues in contemporary doll play. children try things out through their play. which incorporate unfamiliar taste combinations. yet they can never be certain how children will take up and respond to those "bids. etc.mit.html (30 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . and their own stories.

on the other hand. they shave under their arms." Nickelodeon's self-presentation walks a thin line. This desire to create an autonomous cultural space for children's play is not new." stressing that parents "just don't get" its appeal to children: "adults are untrustworthy. The Nickelodeon programs such as Double Dare or What Would You Do. Nickelodeon's self-promotion has often encouraged an ethos of "generational conflict.html (31 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . The cheaper they are in price. the more cultural goods are likely to reflect children's own aesthetic and cultural sensibilities. or in video games. This "ket" aesthetic can also be recognized within children's television programs. encourage them to take more active roles in their communities (including leading fights for free expression within their schools) and take seriously their own goals for the nation's future (as in their Kids Pick the President campaign coverage)." Such programs. They support children's recognition of a core antagonism with grownups. such as the "scream-real-loud" realm of Pee-Wee's Playhouse or the slop-and-slime world of Nickelodeon's game shows.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. which have often faced reformist pressures because of their use of scatological or gory imagery. while positioning the network. Materials children can purchase with their allowances (such as candy. she argues. nor does such freedom from adult control necessarily retard the child's inculcation into http://web. Spigel points to their covert appeal to adult fantasies of escaping into the realm of childhood free play from the conformity and productivity expected of grownups in Eisenhower's America. or comic books) are less likely to bear the heavy imprint of adult gatekeepers than high cost items (books and videos) parents purchase as gifts. invite children to judge their parents or to smack them with cream pies and douse them with green slime. As Marsha Kinder has suggested. and its spin-off products on the kid side of that divide. Nickelodeon's claims to be "the kids only network" erects a sharp line between the realms of children and adults. they wear deodorant and ties. its programs. stage contests between children and adults. using children's oppositional aesthetic to package shows (such as Lassie) which contain little parents would find offensive and creating programs (such as Kids Court or Linda Ellerbee's news specials) which almost -.embrace a politics of kid-empowerment.but usually not quite -. characters that existed somewhere in between child and adult" and which encouraged a playful transgression of age-appropriate expectations. teach them to be skeptical readers of media images.Henry Jenkins James describes "children's culture" as children's space for cultural expression using materials bought cheaply from the parent culture but viewed with adult disapproval. bubblegum cards.mit. they watch the news and do other disgusting things. were "filled with liminal characters. This approach contrasts sharply with the children's programs of the 1950s (such as Howdy Doody and Winky Dink and You) which Lynn Spigel has characterized as inviting a "dissolution of age categories. Her account could not differ more from Kline's conception of a children's culture produced and controlled by adults. Some of Nick's shows encourage children to cast a critical eye towards adult institutions.

.mit. As industrialization led to a greater division of labor. ground zero of the digital world.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. daring. or simply a rejection of maternal rules and restrictions. and physical mastery expected of those who would inhabit a culture of rugged individualism. past their elders' rigid notions of what is good for them. looking at the ways children's play represents a temporary space of freedom. finding one another via the great hive that is the net. forcing men to leave the home to work in the factories and leaving women in the domestic sphere to raise the young. Through this play. Embracing a politics of appropriation and resistance runs the risk of romanticizing child's play as the seeds of cultural revolution. E. self-discipline.Children can for the first time reach past the suffocating boundaries of social convention." http://web.. the celebration of children as "gender outlaws" or cultural rebels can be traced back to Rousseau's celebration of the "natural" and "spontaneous" child as embodying a freedom not yet subordinated to the demands of the civilized world. with precision here.Henry Jenkins anticipated social roles.. Anthony Rotundo's analysis of "Boy Culture" in 19th century America suggests its complex relationship to the adult world. the formation of masculine identities entered a new phase. there is no way for adults to speak of children without putting words in their mouths and turning them into symbols for our own use. competitiveness. sometimes not.. romanticizing. comic assaults on parental authority. CONCLUSION THE POLITICAL STAKES OF CHILDREN'S CULTURE "Children are at the epicenter of the information revolution.After centuries of regulation. The more rambunctious and irresponsible aspects of this culture would need to be tempered as the young males entered adult jobs and family relations. While this myth of the child certainly has advantages over the more repressive image of the child as a blank slate or the multivalent image of the innocent child at risk. Children must break with their parents before they can enter into adult roles and responsibilities. kids are moving out from under our pious control. sometimes benign. Their play with other boys was clearly framed as oppositional to adults.. boys acquired the aggression.. I use the word. In many ways. it is nevertheless a myth. However. while contributing actively to socialization and indoctrination into cultural values. Children's play has often been a space where they experimented with autonomy and self-mastery. Rotundo preserves the idea of children's social and cultural agency without assuming that they are outside the cultural formations or material conditions that shape all human interactions. Young boys sought an escape from maternal restraint. Perhaps.. fleeing into a sphere of male action and adventure.html (32 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . Rotundo's analysis suggests one escape from this impasse. taking the form of daring raids on privileged adult spaces. yet this rough-and-tumble "boy culture" prepared them more fully for their future roles than the maternal sanctioned activities of the domestic sphere.

mit. We need to be engaged in the process not only of critiquing traditional conceptions of the family. as we saw in the various evocations of childhood at the Republican and Democratic national conventions. the left lacks the ability to literally and figuratively reproduce itself. but of imagining alternative ways that families might perform their responsibilities for the care and raising of the young. both because they accept at face value the premise that childhood is a space largely "innocent" of adult political struggles and because they fail to recognize how foundational the figure of the innocent child is to almost all contemporary forms of politics. I consider such questions misguided.Henry Jenkins -. Moreover. The Birmingham tradition of cultural studies helped us to question the labeling of youth cultures as "deviant" by adult standards. and citizens in ways that help us to prepare children to participate in the process of social change and political transformation. teachers. Feminist analysis has taught us that politics works as much through the micro-practices of everyday life as through large-scale institutions and that our struggle to define our identities in relations to other members of our families often determines how we understand our place in the world. and defense expenditures. Yet. will be forever associated with the memory of a specific child victim. without a politics of the family. We need to embrace approaches to teaching and social policy which acknowledge children's cultural productivity and which provide them with the materials and skills they need to critically evaluate their place in the world. no less than the politics of the domestic sphere. rests on the figure of the child. As this discussion has already suggested. As I have been editing this collection.html (33 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . For example. the figure of the dead child is the most powerful trope in the campaign for tougher sentencing of criminals. The challenge is to find models that account for the complexity of the interactions between children and adults.Jon Katz The Children's Culture Reader seeks modes of cultural analysis that do not simply celebrate children's resistance to adult authority but provide children with the tools to realize their own political agendas or to participate in the production of their own culture. I have been continually asked to explain and justify the "political stakes" in re-examining children's culture. a language that suggests historic divisions between a feminine domestic sphere and a masculine public sphere. Issues involving children are often viewed as "soft" compared to "hardcore" issues like tax cuts. the mutuality and the opposition between their cultural agendas. the recent "Megan's Law. without a progressive conception of children's culture. seeing in their "hooliganism" the signs of a http://web. the politics of the public sphere. We need to think about our roles as parents. the figure of the brutalized and victimized child gets mobilized in campaigns to build support for war. Feminists have long campaigned for a reassessment of those priorities and a recognition of the political stakes in domestic life.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild." which requires public notification of the movement of convicted child molesters and other offenders into the community. Often. crime bills.

" rights that include access to the materials of their culture and the technologies which enable more widespread communication as well as "the right to refuse to be force-fed other generation's values. with others of their generations. away from a focus on the transmission of established cultural norms and towards the development of skills which enable children to question the society around them and to communicate their ideas. have "certain inalienable rights not conferred at the caprice of arbitrary authority. might express something of the frustrations of coping with a world which devalues your interests and seeks to impose adult values onto your activities. They need their parents. Katz argues that children.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild." Jon Katz confronts these challenges when he shifts the focus of debates about cyberspace away from the question of how we might protect our children from corrupting influences (whether through legal sanctions or filtering technology) and towards how we might empower children to actively contribute to the political culture of the net. for example.But more than anything else. we frame such localized moments of resistance in moralistic categories of "naughtiness" or in developmental psychological terms as "testing limits. figuring out how to use the machinery in the service of some broader social purposes.html (34 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . and the http://web. a profoundly political matter.. As Kohl writes: "The challenge parents face is how to integrate encounters with stereotypes into their children's sensibility and help their children become critical of aspects of the culture that denigrate or humiliate them or anyone else.. We still lack a similarly political vocabulary for examining moments when children buck adult demands. Instead. at heart. He writes: "Children need help in becoming civic-minded citizens of the digital age.Henry Jenkins subversive or resistant subculture. Herb Kohl confronts these questions when he debates whether we should "burn Babar. this means allowing them the freedom to explore things while trusting them to make sensible and humane judgments. then the power imbalance between children and adults remains.mit." The need is to recognize that children's disobedience of teachers.." Katz's polemical and suggestive essay points towards a reassessment of the role of education. If politics is ultimately about the distribution of power. might originate in a context of economic or racial inequalities. guardians and leaders to accept that there is a new political reality for children.. via new technologies. teachers.. no less than adults.Instead of prohibiting things that tempt children." He invites us to question whether our recognition of noxious ideologies in traditional children's literature (such as Babar's pro-colonialism agenda) compels us to banish them or whether we should encourage children to become critical readers locating and questioning the implicit assumptions they find in the culture around them.. children need to have their culture affirmed.

desires. and to build the technologies which enable them to exchange their ideas with others of their generation. which we must observe if we are both to protect and empower the young. more complex picture of children's culture that can enable more meaningful.mit. These critics. to defend their access to the information they need to frame their own judgments. Linda Ellerbee confronts these challenges when she creates television programs that encourage children's awareness of real-world problems. Children need adults to create the conditions through which they develop a political consciousness. their everyday scrapes and bruises. abuse.Henry Jenkins constructs that governed their own lives and culture are no longer the only relevant or useful ones. and that there are times and places where adults must protect them from themselves and from the world. such as the LA Riots. which emphasize their fears." Sally Mann confronts these challenges when she creates photographs of children. http://web. and enable to find their own critical voice to speak back against the adult world. and sexuality rather than representing childhood as a wholesome utopia. There are also times and places where we need to listen to our children and factor their needs. and we will not rise to those challenges as long as our actions are governed by familiar myths of the innocent child. They need us to be more than guardians of the fort or protectors of the village. At their best. She trusts children to confront realities from which other adults might shield them. and agendas into our own sense of the world and into the decisions that effects our children's lives. offering them the facts needed to form their own opinions and the air time to discuss issues.edu/cms/People/henry3/innocentchild. The goal is not to erase the line between children and adult. realistic. anxieties. social. The goal is to offer a fuller. and political agency. and effective political change. including neglect. and poverty. Such works do not ignore the fact that children suffer real material problems. They move beyond mythic innocence and toward a recognition and advocacy of children's cultural. and artists offer us models of a children's culture which is progressive in both its form and its content. Mann's photographs strip away the myth of childhood innocence to show the struggles of children to define themselves.html (35 of 35) [2007-06-28 02:29:18] . educators. and uncertainties.

the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. My big grassy front yard sloped sharply downward into a ditch where we could float boats on a rainy day. Today. We felt a proprietorship over that space. it usually spelt trouble. each time I visit my parents. claiming it for our imaginary kingdoms of Jungleloca and Freedonia. there was a pine forest where my brother and I could toss pine cones like grenades or snap sticks together like swords. I feel nostalgic for the spaces of my boyhood.’s Wolfman or “socking” and powing” each other under the influence of Batman. remained undeveloped. When we were there. Often."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES "COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES by Henry Jenkins [Download PostScript version for printing] A Tale of Two Childhoods Sometimes. A friend and I would survey this land. and a neighboring farm (the last vestige of a rural area turned suburban). stalking through the woods like Lon Chaney Jr. there was a bamboo forest where we could play Tarzan. covered with Georgia red mud. Of course. even though others used it for schoolyard fisticuffs. we rarely encountered adults. sloping streets. In the backyard. construction sites. We would come home from these secret places. Out beyond our own yard. there was another forest. though when we did. for the full length of my youth. and our mothers would fuss at us to go outside. I am shocked to see that most of those “sacred” places are now occupied by concrete. there was a patch of grass where we could wrestle or play kickball and a treehouse. and vacant lots. we spent many afternoons at home. bricks. smoking cigarettes or playing kissing games. which sometimes bore a pirate flag and at other times. which. Between my house and the school. something we had seen in television would inspire our play. growing up in suburban Atlanta in the 1960s. or asphalt.Henry Jenkins . They managed to get a whole subdivision out of Jungleloca and Freedonia! http://web.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete.mit. Beyond. watching old horror movies or actionadventure series reruns.html (1 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] .

President of the Video Game Conservatory. Video games constitute virtual playing spaces which allow home-bound children like my son to extend their reach. a city park some blocks away which we could go on outings a few times a week and where we could watch him play. manipulate. I would forget all this and tell him he should go outside and play. putting more and more quarters into the arcade machine (or providing “play value” for those who’ve bought the game) by unveiling ever more spectacular “microworlds. Henry could claim no physical space as his own.” the http://web. cause damage to the facilities. Children were prohibited by apartment policy from playing on the grass or from racing their tricycles in the basements or from doing much of anything else that might make noise.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. has never had a backyard. or put themselves at risk. argues that video games preserve many aspects of traditional play spaces and culture. a small grass buffer from the street. and overly-familiar spaces of their everyday lives. suggesting that video game play isn’t fundamentally different from backyard play.mit. Space Invaders gives us visceral thrill and poses mental/physical challenges similar to a schoolyard game of dodge-ball (or any of the hundred of related kids games). Video games tempt the player to play longer.Henry Jenkins . he did have video games which took him across lakes of fire. to achieve an appropriate level of “holding power” that enables children to transcend their immediate environments. a never tiring playmate. Feinstein’s comment embraces some classical conceptions of play (such as spacial exploration and identity formation).html (2 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . He would look at me with confusion and ask “Where?” But. surrounded by asphalt parking lots with. more sophisticated. perhaps. He has grown up in various apartment complexes. predictable. yet it feels like an all-important fight for that child at that given moment. There was. usually. annoy the non-childbearing population. and into dazzling neon-lit Asian marketplaces. or scrambling for the same ball . The push in the video game industry for more than a decade has been towards the development of more graphically complex. more visually engaging. Henry. along dark and gloomy back streets. as well as to combat others of comparable skill (whether they be human or electronic) and to struggle with them in a form that is similar to children wrestling. and interact with a more diverse range of imaginary places than constitute the often drab. they aren't going to really do much damage. more threedimensionally rendered spaces.they are nearly matched. Once or twice. video game spaces require concreteness and vividness. when I became exasperated by my son’s constant presence around the house. now 16. more flexible interactions with those spaces. to explore."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES My son. maintaining aspects that motivates children to: learn about the environment that they find themselves living in. Video games present the opportunity to explore and discover. Video games play with us. Keith Feinstein (1997). through cities in the clouds. and towards quicker. and he rarely got outside earshot. To facilitate such immersive play. except his toy-strewn room.

before they close off the track and turn your boat to splinters. we need to better understand what draws boys to video games http://web. Find a shortcut and take the lead.html (3 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] .” This essay will offer a cultural geography of video game spaces. battling it out with the orcs and goblins. each rendered in full 360 degree panoramas. As we attempt to offer video games for girls. Complete freedom of movement.mit. or speed between oil tankers. 1998) Hack your way through a savage world or head straight for the arena... or settled into my treehouse during a thunder storm with a good adventure novel — intensity of experience.. in short. Perhaps. escape from adult regulation. Jump over roadways. or splashing their way through the waves in their speed boats. (Sonic R.. I examine the “fit” between video games and traditional boy culture and review several different models for creating virtual play spaces for girls. Specifically.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. 1998) Strap in and throttle up as you whip through the most realistic and immersive powerboat racing game ever made. 1998) Who wouldn’t want to trade in the confinement of your room for the immersion promised by today’s video games? Watch children playing these games. 1995) Video games advertise themselves as taking us places very different from where we live: Say hello to life in the fast lane. their bodies bobbing and swaying to the on-screen action. (Die By the Sword. pushing their airplanes past the sound barrier... or better yet. “complete freedom of movement. one which uses traditional children’s play and children’s literature as points of comparison to the digital worlds contemporary children inhabit. 1998) Take a dip in these sub-infested waters for a spot of nuclear fishin’. my son finds in his video games what I found in the woods behind the school. (Fuller and Jenkins."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES revelation of a new level the reward for having survived and mastered the previous environment. pedal-to-the-metal hi-speed dash through five 3D courses. on my bike whizzing down the hills of the suburban back streets. Don’t worry. and through passing convoys. So much of the existing research on gender and games takes boy’s fascination with these games as a given. Sonic R for Sega Saturn is a full-on. and it’s clear they are there — in the fantasy world. (Critical Depth. You’ll know you’re in too deep when the water pressure caves your head in.. (VR Sports.You’ll be flossing bug guts out of your teeth for weeks..Henry Jenkins . secure your victory and force your opponent into a river barge at 200 miles per hour..

rather. responding to a growing sense of children’s diminishing access to space and an increased awareness of issues of child welfare (Cavallo. When politicians like Sen. perhaps it is to distract attention from the material conditions which give rise to a culture of domestic violence. and place them under “protective custody. many of our children have access to the one to five rooms inside their apartments. Let me be clear — I am not arguing that video games are as good for kids as the physical spaces of backyard play culture. 1979). In the 19th century.Henry Jenkins . are frightened to have their children on the streets. As a father. Fewer adults have chosen have children and our society has become increasingly hostile to the presence of children. the economic policies which make it harder for most of us to own our homes. Moving Beyond “Home Base”: Why Physical Spaces Matter The psychological and social functions of playing outside are as significant as the http://web. Parents. 1984). “no children” policies severely restrict where parents can live. I wish that my son could come home covered in mud or with scraped knees rather than carpet burns. and the development practices which pave over the old grasslands and forests. However. in many cases. yet sociologists find these same behavioral problems occurring among all children raised in highly restrictive and confined physical environments. Sociologists writing about the suburban America of my boyhood found that children enjoyed a play terrain of one to five blocks of spacious backyards and relatively safe subdivision streets (Hart. Social reformers sometimes speak of children choosing to play video games rather than playing outside.” “Latch key” children return from school and lock themselves in their apartments (Kincheloe.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. Video games did not make backyard play spaces disappear. Video games are often blamed for the listlessness or hyperactivity of our children. (Booth and Johnson. 1975. 1991).mit. but autobiographies of the period stress the availability of vacant lots and back allies which children could claim as their own play environments.) target video game violence. van Staden. Video game technologies expand the space of their imagination. Today. they offer children some way to respond to domestic confinement. Fewer of us own our homes and more of us live in apartment complexes. children living along the frontier or on America’s farms enjoyed free range over a space which was ten square miles or more. More and more Americans live in urban or semi-urban neighborhoods.html (4 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . Joseph Lieberman (D-Ct. 1997). returning when they were needed to do chores around the house. In many places. no such choice is available. we sometimes blame video games for problems which they do not cause — perhaps because of our own discomfort with these technologies which were not part of our childhood. Elliot West (1992) describes boys of 9 or 10 going camping alone for days on end. at the end of the 20th century. when."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES and whether our daughters should feel that same attraction. for a variety of reasons. The early 20th century saw the development of urban playgrounds in the midst of city streets.

Not only did he [David. the world which is secure and familiar. for example. the playforts and treehouses. In each study area. he continually went darting ahead. and home region. a space under the process of being colonized by the child. hopping between paving slabs. certain kids seemed to dance through their surroundings on the look out for microfeatures with which to test their bodies. Hart (1979) found that boys enjoyed far http://web. (p.72) These discoveries arise from active exploration and spontaneous engagement with their physical surroundings. Observing the use of space within 1970s suburban America. balancing along the curbside. Our physical surroundings are “relatively simple and relatively stable” compared to the “overwhelmingly complex and ever shifting” relations between people. like Paul. and vacant lots of the adult world constitute what Robin C. Matthews (1992) stresses the “topophilia. go ‘tightrope walking’ along the tops of walls.Henry Jenkins . gullies. leapfrogging objects on sight. These informal. M.html (5 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . which can only be used in sanctioned ways.. back allies. Moore (1986) writes: One of the clearest expressions of the benefits of continuity in the urban landscape was the way in which children used it as an outdoor gymnasium. children develop as they map their fantasies of empowerment and escape onto their neighborhoods. another boy in the study]. and thus. giving their own names to features of their environment. school. Moore (1986) calls “childhood’s domain” or William Van Vliet (1983) has labeled as a “fourth environment” outside the adult-structured spaces of home. they form core resources for identity formation. H.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. stresses the importance of children’s manipulations and explorations of their physical environment to their development of self-confidence and autonomy. often temporary play spaces are where free and unstructured play occurs. children create for themselves in the cracks. As I walked along a Mill Hill street with Paul. an area undergoing active exploration. and playground.” the heightened sense of belonging and ownership.. Children in the same neighborhoods may have fundamentally different relations to the spaces they share. Frederick Donaldson (1970) proposed two different classifications of these spaces — home base. Children’s access to spaces are structured around gender differences. The unstructured spaces. The “wild spaces” are far more important. leapfrogging over concrete bollards.. cutting their own paths. Roger Hart’s Children’s Experience of Place (1979). since they allow many more opportunities for children to modify their physical environment.mit. jump over gaps between things."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES impact of “sunshine and good exercise” upon our physical well-being. nine-foot wall that had many serendipitously placed toe and handholds. than playgrounds. many researchers conclude. but at one point he went ‘mountain climbing’ up a roughly built. Such spaces surface most often on the lists children make of “special” or “important” places in their lives.

doll clothes. to dam creeks or build forts. As C. As a stereotype. a typical 10-12 year old boy might travel a distance of 2452 yards. ballfields. forts and treehouses. the child in the city is a boy. (p. these skills were not acquired without some resistance.The reader can verify this by standing in a city street at any time of day and counting the children seen. Parents of girls were more likely to express worries about the dangers their children face on the streets and to structure girls’ time for productive household activities or educational play (Matthews. Another 1975 study (Rheingold and Cook). Ward (1977) notes: Whenever we discuss the part the environment plays in the lives of children. and climbing trees” while girls were more like to seek commercially developed spaces. freedom and self confidence.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete.html (6 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . while the average 10-12 year old girl might only travel 959 yards. In the course of an afternoon’s play. cutting their hair. Such gender differences in mobility. this research would suggest that children’s declining access to play space would have a more dramatic impact on the culture of young boys. lawns. If cultural geographers are right when they argue that children’s ability to explore and modify their environments plays a large role in their growing sense of mastery. then the restrictions placed on girls’ play have a crippling effect. The majority will be boys. found boys more likely to possess a range of vehicles and sports equipment designed to encourage outside play.mit. 1992). girls expanded their geographic range only to take on responsibilities and perform chores for the family. http://web. For the most part. while parents often turned a blind eye to a boy’s movements into prohibited spaces. while the girls rooms were stocked with dolls. Conversely. since girls already faced domestic confinement. woods. 1976). 1998)."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES greater mobility and range than girls of the same age and class background.. and other domestic objects.. driving nails into their bodies. girl culture formed under closer maternal supervision and girls toys were designed to foster female-specific skills and competencies and prepare girls for their future domestic responsibilities as wives and mothers. The boys Hart (1979) observed were more likely to move beyond their homes in search of “rivers. access and control over physical space increased as children grew older. such as stores or shopping malls.152) One study found that parents were more likely to describe boys as being “outdoors” children and girls as “indoor” children (Newson and Newson. sliding places. the doll’s china heads and hands fostered delicate gestures and movements (Formanek-Brunnel. However. Nineteenth century girls were apparently as willing as today’s girls to mistreat their dolls. Girls were less likely than boys to physically alter their play environment.Henry Jenkins . we are really talking about boys. hills. The doll’s central place in girlhood reflected maternal desires to encourage daughters to sew. Girls are far less visible. Historically. which inventoried the contents of children’s bedrooms.

becoming an adult male often means struggling with (and in many cases.. Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1961). according to previous appointment.Tom’s army won a great victory. prisoners exchanged. (p. By contrast. Rotundo argues. the boys came home for further lessons in self-restraint. so relentlessly opposed at home. boys escaped from the home into the outdoors play space. the terms of the next disagreement agreed upon."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES Putting Boy Culture Back in the Home Clods were handy and the air was full of them in a twinkling. What E. after a long and hard-fought battle.Henry Jenkins .html (7 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] ..mit. and a frequent resort to violence. and before Aunt Polly could collect her surprised faculties and sally to the rescue. pp. then. — Mark Twain.” Rotundo argues that this break with the mother was a necessary step towards autonomous manhood. on the other hand. actively repudiating) maternal culture.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete.. Then the dead were counted. and Tom turned homeward alone.He presently got safely beyond the reach of capture and punishment. Fathers. offered little guidance to their sons. who. self-assertion.. after which the armies fell into line and marched away. Joe Harper (a bosom friend) general of the other. noise. the boys’ world countered with energy.37) The boys took transgressing maternal prohibitions as proof they weren’t “mama’s boys. and hasted toward the public square of the village. They raged around Sid like a hail storm. Contrary to the Freudian concept of the oedipal complex (which focuses on boy’s struggles with their allpowerful fathers as the site of identity formation). freeing them to participate in a semi-autonomous “boy culture” which cast itself in opposition to maternal culture: Where women’s sphere offered kindness. insuring a http://web. One of the many tragedies of our gendered-division of labor may be the ways that it links misogyny — an aggressive fighting back against the mother — with the process of developing self-reliance. Boys were cut off from the work life of their fathers and left under the care of their mothers.. acquired masculine skills and values from other boys. Tom was the general of one of these armies. six or seven clods had taken personal effect. nurture and a gentle spirit. with stricken consciences.19-20. where two ‘military’ companies of boys had met for conflict. morality. According to Rotundo. The physical explosiveness and the willingness to inflect pain contrasted so sharply with the values of the home that they suggest a dialogue in actions between the values of the two spheres — as if a boy’s aggressive impulses. and Tom was over the fence and gone.. girls play culture was often “interdependent” with the realm of their mother’s domestic activities. and the day for the necessary battle appointed. sought extreme forms of release outside it. Anthony Rotundo (1994) calls “boy culture” emerged in the context of the growing separation of the male public sphere and the female private sphere in the wake of the industrial revolution.

(1) Nineteenth century “boy culture” was charactered by its independence from the realm of both mothers and fathers. despite its potential to present children with a greater diversity of spaces than can be found in their immediate surroundings.” youngsters gained recognition from their peers for their daring.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. and mastering levels. climbing trees. They often play the games in their rooms and guard their space against parental intrusion.” the boy who spent all of his time in his room reading.html (8 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . searching for the path around obstacles. for the hypermasculine and hyperviolent content of the games themselves. had a “mama’s boy” reputation in the old “boy culture. leaves open the prospect that a more interactive digital medium might serve some of the same developmental functions as backyard play. however. What happens when the physical spaces of 19th century boy culture are displaced by the virtual spaces of contemporary video games? Cultural geographers have long argued that television is a poor substitute for backyard play. As writers like Jon Katz (1997) and Don Tapscott (1997) note. Rotundo’s core claims about 19th century boy culture hold true for the “video game culture” of contemporary boyhood. A child playing a video game.) In 20th century video game culture. when suburban boy culture still reigned. or leaping from rocks as they cross streams) or through pranks (such as stealing apples or doing mischief on adults. however. Nineteenth century boys’s trespasses on neighbor’s property or http://web. The game player has a fundamentally different image than the “book worm. children gain recognition for their daring as demonstrated in the virtual worlds of the game. or looking for an advantage over imaginary opponents. but allowing less autonomy. perhaps accounting. This congruence may help us to account for the enormous popularity of these games with young boys. beating bosses. children’s relative comfort with digital media is itself a generational marker. It was a space where boys could develop autonomy and self confidence. This “fit” should not be surprising when we consider that the current game genres reflect intuitive choices by men who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. the loss of spacial mobility is acutely felt — the “bookworm. overcoming obstacles. in part. with adults often unable to comprehend the movement and colored shapes of the video screen.mit. often proven through stunts (such as swinging on vines.Henry Jenkins .” (2) In 19th century “boy culture. Moore (1986)."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES smoother transition into anticipated adult roles. engages in many of the same “mapping” activities as children searching for affordances in their real-world environments. Parents often express a distaste for the games’ pulpy plots and lurid images. precisely because it is a spectatorial rather than a participatory medium.” Modern day boys have had to accommodate their domestic confinement with their definitions of masculinity. Here. Twentieth century video game culture also carves out a cultural realm for modern day children separate from the space of their parents.

direct confrontation and physical challenges. the video games allow boys to gradually develop their mastery over the entire digital terrain. video games are more like playgrounds and city parks rather than wild-spaces.” and “Warp zones” function in digital space like secret paths do in physical space and are eagerly sought by gamers who want to go places and see things others can’t find. The boys set tasks and goals for themselves which required discipline in order to complete.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete.” One of the limitations of the contemporary video game is that it provides only pre-structured forms of interactivity. For the most part.” “Easter Eggs. “Secret codes. Putting in the long hours of repetition and failure necessary to master a game also requires discipline and the ability to meet and surpass self-imposed goals. (4) The 19th century “boy culture” was hierarchical with a member’s status dependent upon competitive activity. and in that sense. hoping to win admiration and respect. The boy fought for a place in the gang’s inner circle. inviting us to best “just one more level. well past the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. single-player games generate digital rivals who may challenge us to beat their speeds or battle them for dominance. Much as cultural geographers describe the boys’ physical movements beyond their home bases into developing home territories. Through this process of setting and meeting challenges. Twentieth century video game culture can also be hierarchical with a member gaining status by being able to complete a game or log a big score. they acquired the virtues of manhood. video game players can only exploit built-in affordances and pre-programed pathways. Most contemporary video games are ruthlessly goal-driven. demanding a constant turn-over of coins for play and intensifying the action into roughly two minute increments. Children are not so much “addicted” to video games as they are unwilling to quit before they have met their goals. The central virtues of video game culture are mastery (over the technical skills required by the games) and self-control (manual dexterity). Video game masters move from house to house to demonstrate their technical competency and to teach others have to “beat” particularly challenging levels."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES confrontations with hostile shopkeepers are mirrored by the visual vocabulary of the video games which often pit smaller protagonists against the might and menace of much larger rivals. securing their future access to spaces by passing goal posts or finding warp zones. (3)The central virtues of the 19th century “boy culture” were mastery and self-control. (5) Nineteenth century “boy culture” was sometimes brutally violent and physically http://web.html (9 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] .mit. Boys will often play the games.Henry Jenkins . while many games are designed for the arcade. The video arcade becomes a proving ground for contemporary masculinity. Often. struggling to master a challenging level. and the games seem to always set new goalposts.

wrestling and testing new skills. providing some of the most oft-cited evidence in campaigns to reform video game content (Kinder. staged towards women’s bodies as a site of physical difference and as the objects of desire/distaste. Arguably. including greeting each other with showers of brickbats and offal. Such a culture is as violent as the world depicted in contemporary video games. like the physical torture of animals and the emotional violence of bullying. Rotundo (1994)writes: The prevailing ethos of the boys’ world not only supported the expression of impulses such as dominance and aggression (which had evident social uses). these images serve the same functions for modern boys as for their 19th century counterparts — allowing an exploration of what it’s like to live in our bodies and an expression of distance from maternal regulations. boys combat imaginary characters... directed against women as a civilizing or controlling force.’ this scatological imagery sometimes assumes overtly misogynistic form. which have the virtue of allowing growing boys to express their aggression and rambunctiousness through indirect. children hurt each other or got hurt trying to prove their mastery and daring. (6) Nineteenth century “boy culture” expressed itself through scatological humor. Rotundo (1994) notes the popularity of games of http://web.. Like the earlier ‘boy culture. and blood) reflected the boy’s growing awareness of their bodies and signified their rejection of maternal constraints.html (10 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . rather than direct. finding a potentially safer outlet for their aggressive feelings.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. rewarded player competence by forcing female characters to strip down to their underwear if the boys beat a certain score. shit. Rather than beating each other up behind the school. often imitating the activities of adult males. spit. (7) Nineteenth century “boy culture” depended on various forms of role-playing. boy culture sanctioned a good deal of intentional cruelty. means. snot.Henry Jenkins ."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES aggressive. Twentieth century video game culture has often been criticized for its dependence upon similar kinds of scatological images. such as Super Metroid. 1996).mit. We forget how violent previous boy culture was. they behaved at other times like a litter of playful pups who enjoy romping. Such bodily images (of sweat. Twentieth century video game culture displaces this physical violence into a symbolic realm. By allowing free passage to so many angry or destructive emotions. (45) Even feelings of fondness and friendship were expressed through physical means. Some early games.If a times boys acted like a hostile pack of wolves that preyed on its own kind as well as on other species. violent feelings (whose social uses were less evident). but also allowed the release of hostile. with the blood and gore of games like Mortal Kombat (with its “end moves” of dismemberment and decapitation).

video games show strong continuities to the boyhood play fondly remembered by previous generations. over the telephone or now. To prosper. examined adult ideologies. the games provide the basis for social interactions at home. http://web. at school and at the video arcades.Henry Jenkins . Again. The track record of contemporary video game culture at providing a basis for a similar social networking is more mixed. a man had to delay gratification and restrain desire. not play. reputations to earn. Their world was based on work. They had families to support. over the Internet. on the other hand.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES settlers and Indians during an age when the frontier had only recently been closed. But he had to channel those assertive impulses in ways that were suitable to the abstract battles and complex issues of middle-class men’s work. it allowed free rein to aggressive impulses and revealed in physical prowess and assertion. as well as in person. Boy culture emphasized exuberant spontaneity.” Such play mapped the competitive and combative boy culture ethos onto the adult realm. casting boys sometimes as their settler ancestors and other times as “savages. children tested alternative social roles. because boys could occupy an environment largely unsupervised by adults..html (11 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . however.mit. (55) Today. Far from a “corruption” of the culture of childhood. Boy culture was a world of play. (8) In 19th century “boy culture. thus exaggerating the place of warfare in adult male lives.. a social space where one evaded the duties and restrictions of adult society. reflecting the physical isolation of contemporary children from each other. rarely had to confront the nature of this “boy culture” and often didn’t even know that it existed. map strategies. There is a significant difference. for theirs was a life of serious business. to provide the technological basis for overcoming other social and cultural factors. such as working parents who are unable to bring children to each other’s houses or enlarged school districts which make it harder to get together. escaping to spaces that were outside their control. he also needed to be aggressive and competitive. In some cases. on the playground or at the school cafeteria. the boys are using the same technologies as their fathers. share tips. and for business partnerships.” play activities were seen as opportunities for social interactions and bonding. and their survival in it depended on patient planning. Through such play. The mothers. video games don’t isolate children but they fail. Children talk about the games together. and show off their skills. and this exchange of video game lore provides the basis for more complex social relations. then. In other cases. responsibilities to meet. Of course. Nineteenth century boys sought indirect means of breaking with their mothers. not spontaneous impulse. The 19th century “boy culture” enjoyed such freedom and autonomy precisely because their activities were staged within a larger expanse of space. engaging in secret activities they knew would have met parental disapproval. Boys formed strong ties which formed the basis for adult affiliations. even if they are using them to pursue different fantasies. and developed a firmer sense of their own abilities and identities. at the present time. Boys compare notes.Men were quiet and sober. the games constitute both play space and playmates. and he needed an instinct for self-advancement. for participation in men’s civic clubs and fraternities.

and Ellen Seiter (1996) has noted that this statistic reflects the increased pressure placed on mothers to supervise and police children’s relations to popular culture. in the children’s rooms. and it becomes the focus of open antagonisms and the subject of tremendous guilt and anxiety. parents are rightly apprehensive about a playspace which is outside their own control and which is shaped according to adult specifications but without their direct input. Another approach (Cassell.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. our sons—and daughters — need an unpoliced space for social experimentation. is that unlike the 19th century “boy culture.Henry Jenkins . some of that same training has also http://web. developing a conversation about the nature and meanings of the worlds being produced. whether we wish to be or not. on the other hand. in the process.” the video game culture is not a world children construct for themselves but rather a world made by adult companies and sold to children. and we need to be conducting a dialogue with our children about the qualities and values exhibited by these game worlds. and that encouraged boys to develop a more nurturing. Perhaps. that disentangled the development of personal autonomy from the fostering of misogyny. Current attempts to police video game content reflect a long history of attempts to shape and regulate children’s play culture.mit. in the middle of the family living room. a space where they can vent their frustrations and imagine alternative adult roles without inhibiting parental pressure. There is no way that we can escape adult intervention in shaping children’s play environments as long as those environments are built and sold rather than discovered and appropriated.html (12 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . sports. Right now. Sega’s Lee McEnany (this volume) acknowledges that the overwhelming majority of complaints game companies receive come from mothers. However. The problem. One model would be for adults and children to collaborate in the design and development of video game spaces. or at best. of course. less domineering attitude to their social and natural environments. occurs in plain sight. and other adult-approved pastimes. One of the most disturbing aspects of the “boy culture” is its gender segregation. These worthy goals are worth pursuing. This Volume) would be to create tools to allow children to construct their own playspaces and then give them the space to do what they want. We can’t simply adopt a “boys will be boys” attitude. As parents. starting with the playground movements of progressive America and the organization of social groups for boys such as the Boy Scouts or Little League which tempered the more rough-and-tumble qualities of “boy culture” and channeled them into games. one wonders about the consequences of such a policing action in a world that no longer offers “wild” outdoor spaces as a safety valve for boys to escape parental control. Many of us might wish to foster a boy culture that allowed the expression of affection or the display of empowerment through nonviolent channels. Mothers come face to face with the messy process by which western culture turns boys into men. The 19th century “boy culture” played an essential role in preparing boys for entry into their future professional roles and responsibilities. we are thus implicated in our children’s choice of play environments."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES The video game culture.

rather than transforming. There was no place to seek cover. the “boys book” movement sought to remake reading (which initially emerged in a female-dominated space) to respond to male needs (and thus to encourage literacy).” industrialists and adventurers. no less than boys. wrote fictions intended to counter boys’ restlessness and apathy towards traditional children’s literature.html (13 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . no less than boys. 1986. The motivating force behind the “girls game” movement is the idea that girls. while denying them the spacial exploration and mastery associated with the “boy culture. the earliest children’s books were “girls books” in everything but name and this isn’t surprising at a time novel reading was still heavily associated with women. who saw the genre as “the exercise of feminine moral ‘influence’” upon children’s developing minds."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES become essential for girls at a time when more and more women are working outside the home. the earliest children’s book writers were mostly women.” Girls. as “men of action. In this next section. repeating (and in a curious way.” (171) In other words. The introduction of boys books reflected a desire to get boys to read. this volume) Characteristically. those aspects of traditional “girl culture” which kept women restricted to the domestic sphere. As Elizabeth Segel (1986) notes. heavily didactic and morally or spiritually uplifting. the girl’s game movement has involved the transposition of traditional feminine play cultures into the digital realm. However.Henry Jenkins . Boy book fantasies of action and adventure reflected the qualities of their pre-existing play culture. The “boys book” emerged. Adventure Islands: Boy Space Alex looked around him. the goal seems to have been to construct fantasies which reflect the gender-specific nature of children’s play and thus to motivate those left out of the desirable cultural practices to get more involved. in the mid-19th century. need to develop an exploratory mindset. reversing) the emergence of a gender-specific set of literary genres for children in the 19th century. Gendered Games/Gendered Books: Towards a Cultural Geography of Imaginary Spaces These debates about gendered play and commercial entertainment are not new. in doing so. fantasies centering around “the escape from domesticity and from the female domination of the domestic world.mit. In both cases. I will consider the continuity that exists between gender/genre configurations in children’s literature and in the digital games marketplace. a habit of seeking unknown spaces as opposed to settling placidly into the domestic sphere. and who created a literature that was undifferentiated according to gender but “domestic in setting.” (Jenkins and Cassell. 171) If the “girls game” movement has involved the rethinking of video game genres (which initially emerged in a male-dominated space) in order to make digital media more attractive to girls (and thus to encourage the development of computational skills). need computers at an early age if they are going to be adequately prepared to get “good jobs for good wages.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. we run the risk of preserving.” (Segel. He was too http://web.

and its values. for life itself. and South America. searched for buried treasure. the bush or the jungle. or adventures into untamed and uncharted regions of the world — into the frontier of the American west (or in the 20th century. which often took the form of quests. The conventions of the 19th and early 20th century boys adventure story provided the http://web. to sign up as cabin boy on a ship (Treasure Island). They confronted a hostile and untamed environment (as when The Jungle Book’s Mowgli must battle “tooth and claw” with the tiger. such stories provided fantasies which boys could enact upon their own environments. roles drawn from boys books. or a sea battle — which placed the protagonist at risk and tested his skills and courage. its activities.Henry Jenkins . or Roman warriors. making their blood race with promises of thrills and more thrills. They survived through their wits. Sheer Khan. the boy books represented a nostalgic documentation of 19th century “boy culture. the “final frontier” of Mars and beyond). In other cases. for leadership. staged in exotic rather than backyard spaces. Here was the wildest of all wild animals — he had fought for everything he had ever needed. fascinated by a creature so wild and so near."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES weak to run. The space of the boys book offers “no place to seek cover. into the exotic realms of Africa. and their ability to use violent force.” its spaces.” and thus encourages fight-or-flight responses. risk-taking and danger. explored caves. a landslide. Each chapter offered a sensational set piece — an ambush by wild Indians.) They were shipwrecked on islands.html (14 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . an encountered with a coiled cobra. In turn. most notably in the works of Mark Twain. even if there was. The horse reared again. or as when Jack London’s protagonists faced the frozen wind of the Yukon. settlers and Indians. journeys. plunged harpoons into slick-skinned whales.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. The protagonists were boys or boy-like adult males. Boys book writers found an easy fit between the ideologies of American “manifest destiny” or British colonialism and the adventure stories boys preferred to read. it was his nature to kill or be killed. a stampede. The persistent images of bloodand-guts combat and cliff-hanging risks compelled boys to keep reading. Rotundo (1994) describes 19th century boys playing pirates. their physical mastery. (27) — Walter Farley. This rapid pace allowed little room for moral and emotional introspection. involving broader movements through space and amplifying horseplay and risktaking into scenarios of actual combat and conquest. His gaze returned to the stallion. or to seek freedom by rafting down the river (Huckleberry Finn). who have none of the professional responsibilities and domestic commitments associated with adults. or set out alone across the dessert. the narratives offered us a larger-than-life enactment of those values. The heroes sought adventure by running away from home to join the circus (Toby Tyler). In some cases. Asia. as in the succession of pulp adventure stories that form the background of the boys game genres. The Black Stallion (1941) The space of the boy book is the space of adventure. then he snorted and plunged straight for the boy. for food. of a wild and untamed nature that must be mastered if one is to survive.

One screen may require you to leap from precipice to precipice. an untamed world for people who refuse to bow before the pressures of the civilizing process. immediately familiar to the boy gamers. and savage all rolled into one). machine. ducks and charges. The scroll games have built into them the constant construction of frontiers — home regions — which the boy player must struggle to master and push beyond. Their protagonists struggle across an astonishingly eclectic range of landscapes — desserts. and she could make up some play of her own and play it quite alone.mit. groans. and what had happened to the old rose-trees. The protagonist shoots fireballs. Besides that. Everything you encounter is potentially hostile so shoot to kill. rolls. or spelunk through an underground passageway. is a world which fully embodies the “boy culture” and its ethos. tropical rain forests.” in short."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES basis for the current video game genres. because nobody would ever know where she was. and defined more through their capacity for actions than anything else. a space of one’s own in a world which http://web. shouts. If you stand still. such as Capcom’s Mega Man or Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers games. a never-never-land you seek your fortune. Action is relentless. The “adventure island” is the archetypal space of both the boys books and the boys games — an isolated world far removed from domestic space or adult supervision. slugs it out. Boys get to make lots of noise on adventure island. The most successful console game series. urban undergrounds — and encounter resistance from strange hybrids (who manage to be animal. never certain what lurks around the next corner.html (15 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . and she could find out where the door was. with the soundtrack full of pulsing music. if she liked it she could go into it every day and shut the door behind her. combine the iconography of multiple boys book genres. and bombblasts. she could perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls. Each screen overflows with dangers. Everything is streamlined: the plots and characters are reduced to genre archetypes. all the while fighting it out with the alien hordes. The Secret Garden Girl space is a space of secrets and romance. zaps.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. Another may require you to swing by vines across the treetops. jumps and dashes across the treacherous terrain. you die. (71)---Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911). each landscape is riddled with pitfalls and booby traps. The “adventure island. It seemed as if it must be different from other places and that something strange must have happened to it during ten years. It was because it had been shut up so long that she wanted to see it. but would think the door was still locked and the key buried in the earth. barely missing falling into the deep chasms below. moving deeper and deeper into uncharted space. Secret Gardens: Girl Space If it was the key to the closed garden. The game’s levels and worlds reflect the set-piece structure of the earlier boys books.Henry Jenkins . frozen wastelands. Errors in judgement result in the character’s death and require starting all over again.

the exploration of space leads to the uncovering of secrets. Norman N. “girl books” often open with fantasies of being alone and then require the female protagonist to sacrifice their private space in order to make room for others’ needs. Sherman (1986) emphasize the role of spacial exploration in the gothic tradition. resist. often emerging through imitation of the gothics and romances preferred by adult women readers and retaining a strong aura of instruction and selfimprovement. the girls books describe naturalistic environments.” (173) Avoiding the boys books’ purple prose. the girls book heroine learned to temper her impulsiveness and to accept family and domestic obligations (Little Women. but rarely. forest and battles.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. “can threaten. The “girls book” genres were slower to evolve. The female protagonists take emotional. Anne of Green Gables) or sought to be a healing influence on a family suffering from tragedy and loss (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm). In such stories. Holland and Sherman claim that gothic romances fulfill a fantasy of unearthing secrets about the adult world. but in all these actions. consistent with what we have already learned about girls’ domestic http://web. love or confine.html (16 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] .mit. with the pulp series books) but instead developed books designed to persuade the young reader to accept the confinement and self-sacrifice inherent in the doctrine of feminine influence. casting the reader in a position of powerlessness and daring them to overcome their fears and confront the truth. Holland and Sherman (1986) note. it stands as a total environment” (220) which the female protagonist can never fully escape. such as The Secret Garden. Hidden rooms often contained repressed memories and sometimes entombed relatives. a “maiden-plus-habitation” formula whose influence is strongly felt on The Secret Garden. clues. Holland and Leona F. Traditional girls books. The castle.’ (171-172) If the boys book protagonist escapes all domestic responsibilities."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES offers you far too little room to explore. an exploration of the hidden passages of unfamiliar houses or the rediscovery and cultivation of a deserted rose garden. When publishers and writers saw the commercial possibilities of books for girls. This was accomplished by depicting the rewards of submission and the sacred joys of serving as ‘the angel of the house. similar to the realm of readers’ daily experience. of course. Such a fantasy space is. left their sisters behind in the world of childhood — that is. The tone is more apt to be confessional than confrontational. it is interesting that they did not provide comparable escape reading for them (that came later. the world of home and family. As Segel (1986) writes: The liberation of nineteenth century boys into the book world of sailors and pirates. and symptoms that shed light on character’s motivations. Ironically. do encourage some forms of spatial exploration.Henry Jenkins . Segel (1986) finds the most striking difference between the two genre traditions is in the book’s settings: “the domestic confinement of one book as against the extended voyage to exotic lands in the other. physical risks.

rendered in naturalistic detail but with the soft focus and warm glow of an impressionistic watercolor. yet even animals which might be frightening in other contexts (coyotes. even in the dead of night. design and grow magical or fantastical plants. but the game makes the animals seem tame and the forest safe. They might take a best friend. Based on her focus group interviews. http://web.” She wanted to create a place “where girls could explore. The soundtrack is equally dense and engaging. Laurel explains: Girls' first response to the place was that they would want to go there alone. The game’s puzzles reward careful exploration and observation.html (17 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . and a place where they might meet a wise or magical person."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES confinement and greater responsibilities to their families. They thought that the garden/forest would be place where they could find out things that would be important to them. as lizards slither from rock to rock.mit. Purple Moon removes the walls around the garden. 1997) The spaces in Purple Moon’s game are quiet. we must cautiously approach a timid fawn if we wish to be granted the magic jewels that are the tokens of our quest. expresses a fear of the “creepy” nighttime woods. one of the game’s protagonists. were drawn to the idea of the secret garden or hidden forest as a “girl’s only” place for solitude and introspection. 1997) What she found was that the girls did not feel magical animals would need their nurturing and in fact. The world of Secret Paths explodes with subtle and inviting colors — the colors of a forest on a summer afternoon. or field mice dart for cover.Henry Jenkins . as the natural world whispers to us in the rustle of the undergrowth or sings to us in the sounds of the wind and the calls of birds. to be peaceful and perhaps read or daydream. (Personal correspondence. Altogether their fantasies was about respite and looking within as opposed to frolicsome play. Jesse. contemplative places. owls) seem eager to reveal their secrets to our explorers. of rippling water and moonlit skies. however. At one point. Laurel initially sought to design a “magic garden.” a series of “romanticized natural environments” responsive to “girls’ highly touted nurturing desires. The spaces of Secret Paths are full of life. Producer Brenda Laurel has emphasized girls’ fascination with secrets. Purple Moon’s Secret Paths in the Forest fully embodies the juvenile gothic tradition — while significantly enlarging the space open for girls to explore.” (Personal correspondence. though Secret Paths pushes further than existing games to give these “secrets” social and psychological resonance. meet and take care of creatures. many of the girls wanted the animals to mother them. but they would never take an adult or a boy. a fascination that readily translates into a puzzle game structure. turning it into a woodlands. The girls in Laurel’s study. foxes. of spring flowers and autumn leaves and shifting patterns of light. of sand and earth.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. their fondness for animals.

Nature’s rhythms are gradual and recurring. the sun. Laurel explains: We made the "game" intentionally slow . and more suddenly still she jumped toward it and caught it in her hand. One of the issues that girls have raised with us in our most recent survey of their concerns is the problem of feeling too busy. and coming to grips with her mother’s death: So long as Mistress Mary’s mind was full of disagreeable thoughts http://web. growth.a girl can move down the paths at whatever pace. if we only take the time to look and listen. A magic book tells us: As I patiently traveled along [through the paths]. to position spiders on a web so that they may harmonize rather than create discord. In The Secret Garden (1911). and suddenly the gusts of wind swung aside some loose ivy trails. the more was revealed to me. in some cases. we are rewarded for feeding and caring for the animals. The game is much slower than television. And.html (18 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . stop and play with puzzles or stones. restoring a sickly boy to health.. (80) Such animal guides abound in Secret Paths: the curser is shaped like a lady-bug during our explorations and like a butterfly when we want to venture beyond the current screen. sky and stars — all had magical properties! The more closely I listened and the more carefully I explored. or hang out in the tree house with or without the other characters. Secret Paths encourages us to stroke and caress the screen with our curser. I found that everything was enchanted! The trees. Our goal is less to master nature than to understand how we might live in harmony with it. (Personal correspondence. clicking only when we know where secret treasures might be hidden.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. I think that "Secret Paths" provides an antidote to that feeling from the surprising source of the computer. 1997) Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “Secret Garden” (1911) is a place of healing and the book links Mary’s restoration of the forgotten rose garden with her repairing a family torn apart by tragedy. I think that this slowness is really a kind of refuge for the girls. Animals show us the way.Henry Jenkins ."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES The guidebook urges us to be “unhurried and gentle” with the “easily startled” deer. flowers and animals.The robin kept singing and twittering away and tilting his head on one side.mit. and transformation. to observe the notes (produced by singing cactus) that make a lizard’s head bob with approval and then to copy them ourselves. as if he were as excited as she was... a continual process of birth. This she did because she had seen something under it — a round knob which had been covered by the leaves hanging over it. Unlike twitch-and-shoot boys games. for example. Mary Lennox is led by a robin to the branches that mask the entrance to the forgotten rose garden: Mary had stepped close to the robin. We learn to mimic its patterns.

Harriet got very businesslike. bored and wretched child. Harriet the Spy (1964) Harriet the Spy opens with a description of another form of spatial play for girls — Harriet’s “town. you make up what they do.mit.’See.. Dana recounts her rage over losing a soccer companionship. she was a yellow-faced. they magically form a necklace and when given to the right girl.. they allow us to hear a comforting or clarifying story. so that clicking on our environment may call forth memories or confessions.. When her mind gradually filled itself with robins. then got on her knees in the soft September mud so she could lean over the little valley made between the two big roots of the tree. Then you write down the names of all the people who live in it. Charles Hanley runs the filling station on the corner.html (19 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] .” a “microworld” she maps onto the familiar contours of her own backyard and uses to think through the complex social relations she observes in her community. She referred to her notebook every now and then. Their answers lie along the secret paths through the forrest.” allowing young girls rehearse their coping skills and try alternative social strategies. Miko speaks of the pressure to always be the best and the alienation she feels from the other children. or emotional strengths. where each confesses their secrets and tells of their worries and sufferings. As the magical book explains.Henry Jenkins .. Mr. shaping their actions to her http://web. Such narratives teach girls how to find emotional resources within themselves and how to observe and respond to others’ often unarticulated needs.” At the game’s opening.. but for the most part she stared intently at the mossy lowlands which made her town. Along the way. If we are successful in finding all of the hidden stones.with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day by day. She stood up.. first you make up the name of the town. The Play Town: Another Space for Girls? Harriet was trying to explain to Sport how to play Town. (294) Purple Moon’s Secret Paths has also been designed as a healing place. Then when you know who lives there.. Solving puzzles in the physical environment helps us to address problems in our social environment.. and moorland cottages crowded with children. the girl’s secrets are literally embedded within the landscape.there was no room for the disagreeable thoughts which affected her liver and her digestion and made her yellow and tired. we draw together a group of female friends in the treehouse. “You will never be alone here. Harriet controls the inhabitants of this town. Minn describes her humiliation because her immigrant grandmother has refused to assimilate new world customs.... Some of them have lost parents. (3-5)— Louise Fitzhugh... Secret Paths is what Brenda Laurel calls a “friendship adventure. where the adventurers can find hidden magical stones that embody social. For instance.. where girls are encouraged to “explore with your heart” and answer their emotional dilemmas. psychological. others face scary situations or emotional slights that cripple their confidence.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. sickly."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES about her dislikes and sour opinions of people and her determined not to be pleased by or interested in anything. for this is a place where girls come to share and to seek help from one another.

Zero Zero) offer a digital version of Harriet’s “Town. Yet. commercial. these worlds overflow with city sounds — the clopping of http://web. As Fitzhugh’s novel continues. Harriet’s adventures occur in public space (not the private space of the secret garden). and writing her evaluations and interpretations of their lives in her notebook. Sim City embraces stock themes from boys’ play. this night. a long. Sim City offers us another form of power — the power to “play God. These spaces are rendered in a distinctive style somewhere between the primitiveness of Grandma Moses and the colorful postmodernism of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES desires: “In this town. Harrison’s baby is born. However. Smarty. Duncan (this volume) specifically cites Harriet the Spy as an influence.At this same minute Mrs.html (20 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . a world of bakeries. Sim City seems alienated and abstract. and industrial push us well beyond the scale of everyday life and in so doing. Harriet’s interests shift from the imaginary events of her simulated town and into real world spaces. Harriet’s adventures take her well beyond the constricted space of her own home. and beauty parlors. her stories depend on juxtapositions of radically different forms of human experience: “Now. Sim City’s classifications of land use into residential. hardware stores..mit. She breaks and enters houses and takes rides on dumbwaiters.” Players can explore suburban and urban spaces and pry into bedroom closets in search of the extraordinary dimensions of ordinary life. She barely avoids getting caught. and those of the elements that are totally lacking in most existing simulation games. and catacombs. strips the landscape of its potential as a stage for children’s fantasies. hoping that her games will grant young girls “a sense of inquisitiveness and wonder. The games of Theresa Duncan (Chop Suey. her adventures are not so much direct struggles with opposing forces (as might be found in a boys book adventure) as covert operations to ferret out knowledge of social relations. playing them out on a much larger scale. sneaks through back allies and peeps into windows. Zero Zero draws us further from home — into fin de siecle Paris. Far removed from the romantic imagery of Secret Paths. For Harriet. Hanley is just about to close up. She “spies” on people’s private social interactions. big old black car drives up and in it there are all these men with guns.” (6) Her fascination with mapping and controlling the physical space of the town makes her game a pre-digital prototype for Sim City and other simulation games. such as building forts. to sculp the landscape or call down natural disasters (Friedman. wax museums. a working class world of diners. compared to Harriet’s vivid interest in the distinct personalities and particular experiences of her townspeople. shaping earth with toy trucks. everybody goes to bed at nine-thirty. as Mr.Henry Jenkins . joy and sorrow. but not the power to imaginatively transform our social environment. trying to understand what motivates adult actions.”(4) Not unlike a soap opera.” to design our physical environment. 1995).. or damming creeks. the mapping of the space was only the first step in preparing the ground for a rich saga of life and death. a populated environment (not the natural worlds visited in Secret Paths).edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete..” Chop Suey and Smarty take place in small Midwestern towns. staging more and more “daring” investigations.

alive person. she is also interested in smaller. The Frenchmen in Zero Zero are suitably bored. In that sense.. like there is sometimes in books.mit. Duncan (this volume) said. And she's just a very vibrant..” suggesting that all this “niceness” deprives children of “the richness of their lives” and does not help them come to grips with their “complicated feelings” towards the people in their lives. Clues unearthed in one location may shed light on mysteries posed elsewhere. and insulting.. The man in the antlered hat sings rowdy songs about “bones” and “guts” when we visit the catacombs. questioning adults about their visions for the new century. Often. Vera has three ex-husbands all named Bob.” Lazy curiosity invites us to explore the contents of each shop. allowing Duncan to suggest something of the “interconnectedness” of life within a close community. where not everyone has had a perfect life but they're all happy people. more intimate questions. that transforms you.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. Duncan’s protagonists. even flowers hurl abuse at us. such as the identity of the secret admirer who writes love poems to Bon Bon. Duncan’s games have no great plot to propel them. who want to know more than they have been told.” While the social order has been tamed. “smoke curled black and feathery like a horse’s tale from a thousand chimney pots” in this world “before popsicles and paperbacks. The guy in the candy shop in Chop Suey has covered his body with tattoos."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES horse hooves on cobblestones. Daring Pinkee scampers along the roofs of Paris and pops down chimneys or steps boldly through the doors of shops. Yet. Duncan (this volume) suggests: There's a sense of bittersweet experience in Chop Suey. but she's also filled with love. (She also cites inspiration http://web. curious girls. the game fosters the character-centered reading practices which Segel (1986) associates with the “girls book” genres. are smart.Vera has problems. to flip through the fashion magazines in Bon Bon’s dressing room. ill-tempered. and that's why she fascinates the little girls. barking dogs. to view the early trick films playing at Cinema Egypt or to watch the cheeses in the window of Quel Fromage which are. Duncan has not rid these worlds of their more disreputable elements. for reasons of their own. and the women puff on cigarettes. wear too much make-up. posing few dangers. but there's no magical event. and hint about illicit rendezvous. Pinkee LeBrun (Zero Zero). “Chop Suey works the way that real life does: all these things happen to you. the goal is less to evaluate these people than to understand what makes them tick. reading practices which thrive on gossip and speculation. flash their cleavage. June Bug (Chop Suey). Duncan rejects our tendency to “project this fantasy of purity and innocence onto children. as in Harriet.Henry Jenkins . clanging church bells in Zero Zero — and the narrator seems fascinated with the smoke stacks and signs which clutter this manmade environment . As the narrator in Zero Zero rhapsodizes. staging the major turning points of the French revolution.html (21 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . the singer at the Follies.

foster an awareness of social relations and a search for secrets. The breads and cakes in the bakery are shaped like the faces of French philosophers and spout incomprehensible arguments. showering the baker’s angry faces with white clouds of flour. as when a visit to Poire the fashion designer has us matching different pairs of underwear. but the character herself is socially ostracized and disciplined. invite gradual investigation and discovery. that people tell each other about their lives. Harriet the Spy is ambivalent about its protagonist’s escapades: her misadventures are clearly excite the book’s female readers. are less filled with dangers.” Yet. Pinkee suffers no such punishment. in ways we can disrupt and destabilize the environment. ripping off the table clothes. Both allow the exploration of physical environments. Laurel and Duncan make an important http://web. while Joan D’Arc is rendered in marshmallow.” but Duncan’s approach is sassy and irreverent. Pinkee’s first actions as a baby are to rip the pink ribbons from her hair! Duncan likes her characters free and “unladylike."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES from the more surreal adventures of Alice in Wonderland!) The interfaces are flexible.” Conclusion: Towards a Gender-Neutral Play space? Brenda Laurel and Theresa Duncan offer two very different conceptions of a digital play space for girls — one pastoral. in many ways. math and Martians. ending up the game watching the fireworks that mark the change of the centuries. taking pleasure in the knowledge that she will be a central part of the changes that are coming: “tonight belongs to Bon Bon but the future belongs to Pinkee. one based on the ideal of living in harmony with nature. forced to more appropriately channel her creativity and curiosity. the two games embrace remarkable similar ideals — play spaces for girls adopt a slower pace. allowing us to visit any location when we want without having to fight our way through levels or work past puzzling obstacles.mit. encouraging the young gamers to take more risks and to try things that might not ordinarily meet their parent’s approval. and language. Often.Henry Jenkins . but rather expresses a unrestrained fascination with the stories. Zero Zero and Duncan’s other games take particular pleasure in anarchistic imagery. culture. grammar and glamour. center around emotional relations between characters. the other urban. Pinkee’s quest for knowledge about the coming century can not be reduced to an approved curriculum. or shaking up soda bottles so they will spurt their corks.” In keeping with the pedagogic legacy of the girls book tradition. Zero Zero promises us an introduction to French history.html (22 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . In that sense. there is something vaguely naughty about the game activities. altogether better suited for toasting. happy or sad. The waxwork of Louis XIV sticks out its tongue at us. good. but are really about the interior worlds of feelings and fears. bad.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. Smarty a mixture of “spelling and spells. the other based on an anarchistic pleasure in disrupting the stable order of everyday life and making the familiar “strange. Duncan’s stories preserve the mischievous and sometimes anti-social character of Harriet’s antics and the transformative humor of Lewis Carroll.

Segel suggests. mother nature. they are expanding what computers can do and what roles they can play in our lives. insuring a focus on goal-oriented. the designation of books for boys and girls did not preclude (though certainly discouraged) reading across gender lines: “Though girls when they reached ‘that certain age’ could be prevented from joining boys’ games and lively exploits. or heal their friend’s sufferings or boys to do something more than battle it out with the barbarian hordes.” We need to design digital play spaces which allow girls to do something more than stitch doll clothes. Their assumptions about what kinds of digital play spaces were desirable defined how the bytes would be allocated. At the same time. Too much interest in social and emotional life was a vulnerability in a world where competition left little room to be “lead by your heart. and violent plots.html (23 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . educational authorities encouraged the assignment of boys books in public schools since girls could read and enjoy them. On the other hand. As Segel (1986) notes. Segel finds evidence of such gender-crossing in the 19th century. encouraged the development of gender-specific reading strategies — with boys reading for plot and girls reading for character relationship. as Segel (1986) suggests.” In doing so.” female gamers http://web."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES contribution when they propose new and different models for how digital media may be used. First. The segregation of children’s reading into boy book and girl book genres.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. At other times. though girls were actively discouraged from reading boys books because their contents were thought too lurid and unwholesome. Segel’s analysis of “gender and childhood reading” suggests two ways of moving beyond the gender-segregation of our virtual landscape. we must guard against simply duplicating in the new medium the gender-specific genres of children’s literature. this genre division also limited boys’ psychological and emotional development. utilitarian. in our desire to open digital technologies as an alternative play space for girls. Segel (1986) argues. Such differences. valuing rapid response time over the memory necessary to construct more complex and compelling characters. taught children to replicate the separation between a male public sphere of risk taking and a female domestic sphere of care taking.” Boys developed a sense of autonomy and mastery both from their reading and from their play. The current capabilities of our video and computer game technologies reflect the priorities of an earlier generation of game makers and their conception of the boys market.Henry Jenkins .mit. just as they restricted their movements into real world spaces. while there was much greater stigma attached to boys reading girls books. Laurel and Duncan shift the focus — prioritizing character relations and “friendship adventures. it was harder to keep them from accompanying their brothers on vicarious adventures through the reading of boys’ books. the classification of children’s literature into boys books and girls books “extracted a heavy cost in feminine self-esteem. Girls learned to fetter their imaginations. The growing visibility of the “quake girls.” (175) Reading boys books gave girls (admittedly limited) access to the boy culture and its values.” restricting girl’s imaginative experience to what adults perceived as its “proper place.

and agility have no effect on the outcome of the game. Much as in Secret Paths. In the literary realm.mit. this volume). Elliot. beginning in childhood. In the frame stories that open the game. Girls need to learn how to explore “unsafe” and “unfriendly” spaces. the gender segregation of children’s literature was almost as damaging for boys as it was for girls: “In a society where many men and women are alienated from members of the other sex. such as Little House on the Prairie or Wrinkle in Time. one wonders whether males might be more comfortable with and understanding of women’s needs and perspectives if they had imaginatively shared female experiences through books.html (24 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] ."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES who compete in traditional male fighting and action/adventure games (Jenkins and Cassell. this focus on creating action games for girls still represents only part of the answer.” Girls may compete more directly and aggressively with boys in the video game arena than would ever have been possible in the real-world of backyard play. the female protagonist. And they can return from combat without the ripped clothes or black eyes that told parents they had done something “unladylike. strength.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. we enter the mindscape of the two protagonists as they toss and turn in their sleep. hopes to gain recognition on the stage as a singer. much as girls who read boys books were likely to encounter the misogynistic themes that mark boys’ fantasies of separation from their mothers.” (183) Boys may need to play in secret gardens or toy towns just as much as girls need to explore adventure islands. then at least some of the time. has fantasies of scoring big on the basketball court yet fears being bullied by bigger and more aggressive players. since differences in actual size. rewarding both a traditionally masculine interest in plot action and a traditionally feminine interest in character relations. in the old vacant lot. only to find http://web. Girls need to learn how to. in the words of a contemporary best-seller. girls who play boys games find the games’ constructions of female sexuality and power are designed to gratify preadolescent males. which fuse the boys and girl genres. Girls need to experience the “complete freedom of movement” promised by the boys games. We need to open up more space for girls to join — or play alongside — the traditional boy culture down by the river. our movement through the game space is framed as an attempt to resolve the characters’ emotional problems. for as Segel (1986) notes. not to empower girls. within the bamboo forest. but has nightmares of being rejected and ridiculed.Henry Jenkins .” Unfortunately. Girl gamers are aggressively campaigning to have their tastes and interests factored into the development of action games. Segel points towards books. Sega Saturn’s Nights into Dreams represents a similar fusion of the boys and girls game genres. However. Girls need to be able to play games where Barbie gets to kick some butt. if not all the time. if they are going to develop the self confidence and competitiveness demanded of contemporary professional women. “run with the wolves” and not just follow the butterflies along the Secret Paths. suggests that there has always been a healthy degree of “crossover” interest in the games market and that many girls enjoy “playing with power. Claris. the male character. They run away from their problems.

): “The whole experience of Nights is in soaring. and there are enemies we must battle. the fun is in the journey rather than the destination. When we lose Nights’ magical. intelligence (blue) and bravery (red) — a structure that recalls the magic stones in Secret Paths through the Forest."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES themselves in Nightopia. enhanced by design features — such as wind resistance — which give players a stronger than average sense of embodiment. where they must save the dream world from the evil schemes of Wileman the Wicked and his monstrous minions. to escape gender is to escape gravity and to fly above it all. an androgynous harlequin figure. perhaps felt most strongly by individuals who want to join an activity controlled by the other gender. we turn back into boys and girls and must hoof it as pedestrians across the rugged terrain below. The tone of this game is aptly captured by one Internet game critic. including nightmare worlds full of day-glo serpents and winged beasties. Our primary enemy is time. Big Mitch (n.Henry Jenkins . hope (yellow). and just losing yourself in the moment. floating through the clouds. wisdom (green). and freewheeling through colorful landscapes.mit. a situation which makes it far less likely we will achieve our goals. yet there is also a sense of unconstrained adventure. its movement between a realistic world of everyday problems and a fantasy realm of great adventure. its mixture of the speed and mobility associated with the boys platform games with the lush natural landscapes and the sculpted soundtracks associated with the girls games. tumbling. gender-bending garb. Nights’ complex mythology has players gathering glowing orbs which represent different forms of energy needed to confront Claris and Elliot’s problems — purity (white). but they repeatedly enact the separation and opposition between the two play cultures.edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. To be gendered is to be constrained.” Big Mitch’s response suggests a recognition of the fundamentally different qualities of this game — its focus on psychological issues as much as upon action and conflict. Sociologist Barrie Thorne (1993) has discussed the forms of “borderwork” which occurs when boys and girls occupy the same play spaces: “The spatial separation of boys and girls [on the same playground] constitutes a kind of boundary. In the dreamworld. both Claris and Elliot may assume the identity of Nights.html (25 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] . transcending all the problems below. Other levels allow us to splash through cascading fountains or sail past icy mountains and frozen wonderlands or bounce on pillows and off the walls of the surreal Soft Museum or swim through aquatic tunnels. the alarm clock which will awaken us from our dreams. Nights into Dreams retains some of the dangerous and risky elements associated with the boys games. swooping here and there. they don’t fire upon us. Even when we confront monsters. its fascination with aimless exploration rather than goal-driven narrative. This is not a game you set out to win. There are spooky places in this game. The game’s 3-D design allows an exhilarating freedom of movement. Spring Valley is a sparkling world of rainbows and waterfalls and Emerald Green forests.d. In real http://web. we must simply avoid flying directly into their sharp teeth if we want to master them. who can fly through the air.” (64-65) Boys and girls are brought together in the same space.

To win the game. more likely to occur in prestructured institutional settings like the schoolyard than in the informal settings of the subdivisions and apartment complexes. we need to make sure this same pattern isn’t repeated. as boys and girls will be repelled from each other rather than drawn together.html (26 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] ."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES world play. We are not yet sure what such a gender neutral space will look like. which frame Elliot and Claris as possessing fundamentally different dreams (sports for boys and musical performance for girls. yet as the girl’s market is secured.Henry Jenkins .edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete. like children sharing a playground. The “little house” and the”prairie” exist side by side in Laura Wilder’s novels. the opening sequences of Nights into Dreams. All of this suggests that our fantasy of designing games which will provide common play spaces for girls and boys may be an illusive one. and yet they remain resolutely separate and the writers. gender differences are going to be more acutely felt. gender distinctions become extremely rigid and nothing passes between the two spheres. but the mother remains trapped inside the house. such as a scene where a native American penetrates into Ma Wilder’s parlor. if anything. On the one hand. defining the proper place for each gender. this “borderwork” takes the form of chases and contests on the one hand and “cooties” or other pollution taboos on the other. the player must become both the male and the female protagonists and they must join forces for the final level. Creating such a space would mean redesigning not only the nature of computer games but also the nature of society. the androgenous Nights embodies a fantasy of transcending gender and thus achieving the freedom and mobility to fly above it all. When “borderwork” occurs. The danger may be that in such a space. become moments of intense anxiety. the challenge must be to find a way to move beyond our existing categories and to once again invent new kinds of virtual play spaces. The moments when the line between the little house and the prairie are crossed. The penalty for failure in this world is to be trapped on the ground and to be fixed into a single gender. that we do not create blue and pink ghettos inside the playspace. There are reasons why this is a place where neither the feminist entrepreneurs nor the boys game companies are ready to go. while Pa ventures into the frontier. exaggerate gender differences in order to proclaim their dual address. Thorne finds that aggressive “borderwork” is more likely to occur when children are forced together by adults than when they find themselves interacting more spontaneously.mit. Wendy and the “lost boys” both travel to Never-Never-Land but Wendy plays house and the “lost boys” play Indians or pirates. perform this kind of borderwork. On the other hand. Something similar occurs in many of the books which Segel identifies as gender neutral — male and female reading interests co-exist. Only Laura can follow her pa across the threshold of the little house and onto the prairie and her adventurous spirit is often presented as an unfeminine trait she is likely to outgrow as she gets older. graffiti-laden inner city basketball courts for boys and pastoral gardens for girls). As we develop digital playspaces for boys and girls. http://web. side by side. one as full of complications and challenges on its own terms as creating a “girls only” space or encouraging girls to venture into traditional male turf.

Henry Jenkins .html (27 of 27) [2007-06-28 02:32:40] .edu/cms/People/henry3/pub/complete.mit."COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT": VIDEO GAMES AS GENDERED PLAY SPACES http://web.

Shrewd companies tap this culture to foster consumer loyalty and generate low-cost content. listening to techno on the stereo. the global circulation of Asian popular cinema profoundly shapes Hollywood entertainment. we are entering an era where media will be everywhere. When words. media convergence is sparking a range of social. we expand the potential relationships between them and enable them to flow across platforms. There will never be one black box controlling all media. industry. A medium’s content may shift. Media convergence fosters a new participatory folk culture by giving average people the tools to archive. Tomb Raider. The result has been the restructuring of cultural production around “synergies. And when will we get all of our media funnelled to us through one box? Never. it’s not an end state. As producers more fully exploit organic convergence.” the digitization of all media content. and we will use all kinds of media in relation to one another. The first Renaissance was a period of political and social instability. books.” Much as the historical Renaissance emerged when Europe responded to the invention and dispersion of movable type. content and audiences. Radio drama is a genre. they’re actu- ally describing at least five processes: ■ Technological Convergence: What Nicholas Negroponte labeled the transformation of “atoms to bits. economic and legal disputes because of the conflicting goals of consumers. Star Wars. Recorded sound is a medium. but ultimately. producers and gatekeepers. These contradictory forces are pushing both toward cultural diversity and toward homogenization. We will develop new skills for managing information. A company like AOL Time Warner now controls interests in film. but a new cultural order will emerge from it. appropriate and recirculate content. television. real estate and countless other sectors. Consider this column a primer on the real media convergence. Media convergence is an ongoing process. but media persist as layers within an ever more complicated information and entertainment system. genres and delivery technologies. ■ Economic Convergence: The horizontal integration of the entertainment telling. In music. because it’s on the verge of transforming our culture as profoundly as the Renaissance did. but once a medium establishes itself it continues to be part of the media ecosystem. wordprocessing a paper and writing e-mail to his friends. Today. History teaches us that old media never die. ■ Social or Organic Convergence: Consumers’ multitasking strategies for navigating the new information environment. using each medium to do what it does best. Media convergence also encourages transmedia storyproduces some of the most interesting contemporary sounds.” and thus the transmedia exploitation of branded properties— Pokémon. these multiple forms of media convergence are leading us toward a digital renaissance—a period of transition and transformation that will affect all aspects of our lives. images and sounds are transformed into digital information. No one medium is going to “win” the battle for our ears and eyeballs. it occurs within the user’s cranium. “What about the eight-track. political. CDs. industries and consumers. Part of the confusion about media convergence stems from the fact that when people talk about it. new structures for transmitting information across channels. And before you say. W hat’s all this talk about “media convergence. MP3 files and eight-track cassettes are delivery technologies. the Web. ■ Global Convergence: The cultural hybridity that results from the international circulation of media content. industries. and the old monastic order crumbled.HENRY JENKINS Digital Renaissance Convergence? I Diverge. and in cinema. Organic convergence is what occurs when a high schooler is watching baseball on a big-screen television.” this dumb industry idea that all media will meld into one. and new creative genres that exploit the potentials of those emerging information structures. the world-music movement No single medium is going to win the battle for our ears and eyeballs. The digital renaissance will be the best of times and the worst of times. games. thanks to the proliferation of channels and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of computing and communications. Harry Potter. storytellers will use each channel to communicate different kinds and levels of narrative information. It may occur inside or outside the box. occurring at various intersections of media technologies. ■ Cultural Convergence: The explosion of new forms of creativity at the intersections of various media technologies. the development of content across multiple channels. annotate. Rather. ◊ TECHNOLOGY REVIEW June 2001 93 . music.” let’s distinguish among media. its audience may change and its social status may rise or fall. toward commercialization and toward grassroots cultural production. Genres and delivery technologies come and go. These new forms reflect the experience of being a citizen of the “global village. Stay tuned. and we’ll get all of our news and entertainment through one box? Few contemporary terms generate more buzz—and less honey.

"The science fiction reader is encouraged by his reading not to fear or dread change. science http://web. coercive mechanisms of social control.that is.social. One notable exception: Arthur C.henrys essay. As a genre. or weapons of mass destruction. but rather to accept it as a fresh and exciting challenge. linking advanced technologies with concentrations of political power. Science fiction writers have rarely sought to "predict" the future in a literal sense. including increasingly changes in our media culture. science fiction has provided a space for popular debates about change.edu/m-i-t/science_fiction/jenkins/text. In some cases. Rather. Clarke." has long provided "thought experiments" which imagine alternative worlds where current developments -.are pushed to their logical extremes. sometimes called "speculative fiction. scientific. and comment on changes they observe or intuit in contemporary society. technological. challenge. After all. these visions of the future embrace the dominant American ideology of technological utopianism -.html (1 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:34:09] .html Media and Imagination: A Short History of American Science Fiction by Henry Jenkins 853 words posted: july 7. the belief that technological advances (especially in communication and transportation) will dramatically improve human social and cultural relations. Norse explains.mit. Other writers have offered more pessimistic and apocalyptic visions. they have used their imagined futures to question. 1997 Science fiction. Science fiction writer Alan E. cultural -. recognized as a significant influence on the development of global communications satellites. political.

founder of the American science fiction tradition. that science fiction readers may be better able to adjust to "future shock" because they have worked through alternative futures in their imaginations and have come to accept that change is part of all human societies. the winds of change -. Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1887). translating the ideals of the technological utopians into colorful entertainment.mit.are of man's making in the first place.henrys essay. a group of late 19th-century social reformers who wrote utopian fictions about future societies. From the start. the American science fiction tradition has been linked to the increasingly visible role of communications media in our national culture. was himself a key figure in promoting radio as a socially transforming technology. The Gernsbackian tradition reached its zenith at the 1939 New York World's Fair. provocatively. It is no coincidence that the first public display of television http://web.however violent they may seem -." Norse argues. The writers who contributed to Gernback's magazine Amazing Stories were technophiles. included speculations about credit cards and broadcasting. and it should be within man's power to temper them. for example. and the earliest American science fiction appeared alongside articles on amateur radio and popular science.html fiction seems to say." based on technological utopian ideologies.edu/m-i-t/science_fiction/jenkins/text. where corporations and governments sought to construct their own visions of "the world of tomorrow.html (2 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:34:09] . The technological utopians. often saw improvements in communication as vitally linked to the restructuring of the social order. Hugo Gernsback.

The 1960s saw the broadening of science fiction to embrace new social and political visions and to reach new constituencies. Kornbluth.mit. in the context of this highly publicized attempt to translate the visions of science fiction into reality. Science fiction of the 1950s. Not unlike the radical cultural critics of the Frankfort School. Other science fiction writers have examined the place of surveillance technologies and information management in the modern political and economic bureaucracy.html in the United States occurred at the 1939 Fair. Frederik Pohl and C. Yet at the same time.html (3 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:34:09] . where it would remain for the remainder of the 20th century. offered satirical perspectives on the rise of television and advertising. Media theorists like Marshall McLuhan and Alvin Toffler embraced science fiction themes and imagery as part of their attempt to anticipate change in our technological environment.themes that will find their fullest expression in the cyberpunk of the 1980s and 1990s. including works by Henry Kuttner.edu/m-i-t/science_fiction/jenkins/text. these writers were disturbed by the ways in which the mediated culture of the post-War era seemed to encourage mass conformity and blind consumption. This http://web. such fiction also envisions characters that use new media to resist dominant social institutions and to challenge state and corporate power -.M. Their theoretical works were read alongside science fiction written by and for novels the counter-culture and helped to shape the images of mediated culture that ran through the genre.henrys essay. The World's Fair moved science fiction's speculations about the future out of the pages of the pulps and into broader national consciousness. Cordwaner Smith. The representations of technology. and media in American science fiction grew darker in the wake of the Second World War. science.

such as Bruce Sterling. and the centrality of information management to modern life. "cyberspace.html period also saw the increased participation of women as both readers and writers of science fiction.mit. resulting in alternative visions of utopian futures. and Vernor Vinge. Gibson coined the term. William Gibson's Neuromancer (1989) and subsequent "cyberpunk" short stories and novels have dealt with the "digital revolution.edu/m-i-t/science_fiction/jenkins/text. the proliferation of alternative subcultures.html (4 of 4) [2007-06-28 02:34:09] . have published powerful critical essays on real-world media in addition to their speculative fiction about the future of media. grounded in transforming social relations rather than changing technologies and in alternative conceptions of media. Some science fiction writers.0 WebPosted: zachary strider mcgregor-dorsey ´ Back to Science Fiction Top Page http://web." the expanding roles of multinational corporations. Orson Scott Card.henrys essay. Rev 1." and his conceptions of virtual reality have influenced the development of digital media. Some of this fiction deployed a feminist critique of the media's exploitation of women's bodies and emotions.

edu/m-i-t/science_fiction/index. the invited writers speak briefly about the notion of "media in transition" and participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience. Most programs pair a distinguished senior figure with a younger writer. After their readings.html (1 of 2) [2007-06-28 02:34:37] .mit.Science Fiction-Media in Transition home calendar conferences forums »science fiction dialogue articles archive search about this site feedback Media and Imagination Written and Edited by Henry Jenkins How writers of science fiction understand and imagine modern media is the defining theme of a series of readings and discussions begun in 1997 by the Media in Transition Project. Michael Straczynski/Alexander Jablokov http://web.Spring 1998 ● ● Octavia Butler/Samuel Delany J. 2000 ● ● ● Nalo Hopinkson/Connie Willis Ben Bova Greg Bear/Gregory Benford Fall 1998-Spring 1999 ● ● ● ● Hal Clement/Jeffrey Carver Pat Cadigan Michael Resnick/Alexander Jablokov Neil Gaiman/Craig Shaw Gardner Fall 1997. They are a record of the thoughts and responses of some of the best living sf writers. Transcripts of the series have been posted.

" aiming to make current debates about new media accessible to a popular audience." The central essay. The essays encourage us to read science fiction as a mode of "vernacular theory.mit. These essays also explain why our chosen writers are particularly relevant to the larger theme of "Media in Transition. "Media and Imagination: A Brief History of American Science Fiction.html (2 of 2) [2007-06-28 02:34:37] .edu/m-i-t/science_fiction/index. Author Profiles Gregory Benford Octavia Butler Orson Scott Card Joe Haldeman James Patrick Kelly Ellen Kushner Frederick Pohl Allen Steele Sarah Zettel Author Statements Octavia Butler http://web. Henry Jenkins has written a series of critical essays and author profiles specifically for this site." sketches the evolution of the genre and tries to clarify the important connections between science fiction and our culture's shifting ideas about the role of media technologies in everyday life.Science Fiction-Media in Transition ● ● ● ● Frederick Pohl/James Patrick Kelly Joe Haldeman/Gregory Benford Orson Scott Card/Allen Steele Ellen Kushner/Sarah Zettel To create a context for the series.

Interview with Sarbuland Khan IPS | Jul 12 Blogs attribution. Feel free to re-publish this interview (or portions of this interview) with proper "ICT Can Flatten Hierarchies" . Cool Tools. Games and Education. Content. CyberEd Resources : ICT's and Education.php?ArticleID=592 (1 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . MIT | May 30th.0 .DDN Articles . Media Center. Go to the source for a printable. University Discussions Hello! juanraul | 03:09 AM Home Featured Communities of California-Berkeley) was conducted Access Content Cool Tools DDN Member Map Literacy & Learning The DIGITALDIVIDE List via email by Sarah Wright of the MIT News Office.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Search for Go! LOGIN Username: Password: Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Author: Henry Jenkins.net/articles/view. PDF 80s Ringtones 80s ringtones | Jul 13 Articles Browse Articles version of the following text. An abbreviated version was published by the MIT News Office on 24 May 2006. Access. legislators and press who are Youth Visions for Stronger Neighborhoods curriculum CTCNet | 02:32 PM Digital divide images dzucker | 11:24 AM Hello airessun | 11:37 PM [ view all ] Headlines Communities Browse Communities concerned about the dangers of MySpace. 2006 Communities: Community Technology 2. http://www. New Communities Go! Not a member? Join DDN now! Forgot your password? Navigate DDN Indian Community Welcome To Community of One The Weaklings Information2knowledge Global Warming Student Speakout [ more ] The following interview with Henry Jenkins (co-director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT) and danah boyd (PhD student at the School of Information.digitaldivide. We are providing a full transcript of our interview online because we believe that it provides valuable information for parents.

7/22/07 Chicago. The profile serves as an individual’s digital representation (similar to homepages) of their tastes. and identity. Both have a messaging system similar to email. These sites also provide numerous communication tools. list favorite musicians and describe themselves textually and through associated media.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Browse Blogs Q: What is MySpace? Why is it important? How big is it (and its Ugandan refugees go online Yahoo! News | Jul 12 Events Upcoming Events cousins such as Facebook)? danah: MySpace and Facebook are social network sites where individuals [ more ] [ xml ] Events Discussion Boards About DDN Contact Us Copyright Help create profiles and link to others (“friends”) within the system. When youth login.php?ArticleID=592 (2 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . Training help children to access information world Nabil Eid | July 12 http://www. indicate interests. fashion. Structurally. Nepal [ more ] [ xml ] Latest Blog Posts 80s ringtones @@ green day ringtones 80sringtones ringtone | July 13 80s ringtones @@ green day ringtones 80sringtones ringtone | July 13 ICTs.8/03/07 New York. United States The Stonington Retreat: An Educational Technology Conference 7/31/07 . The social network feature allows participants to link themselves to others within the system. Australia Free Credit History 8/29/07 .net/articles/view. individuals upload photos. In crafting this profile.DDN Articles . social network sites are a cross between a yearbook and a community website. NY.digitaldivide. MySpace also has a bulletin board where people can post messages that all friends can read and a blogging service where people can post entries for either friends or the public at large.8/30/07 Sydney. While email Localizing Global Change 7/19/07 . their first task is typically to check messages in order to see who has written them. revealing their affiliations and peer group.11/29/07 kathmandu. These sites also allow friends to comment on each other’s profiles. United States 2nd IEEE International Conference on Wireless Broadband and Ultra Wideband Communications 8/27/07 .

net/articles/view. MySpace has over 78 million registered accounts while Facebook has approximately 8 million. The vast majority of social network site use amongst youth does not involve surfing to strangers’ profiles. “If you’re not on MySpace. but engaging more locally with known friends and acquaintances. bulletin board posts. Training help children to access information world Nabil Eid | July 12 [ more ] [ xml ] http://www. ICTs. event announcements and new blog posts by friends. These sites play a key role in youth culture because they give youth a space to hang out amongst friends and peers. They visit their friends’ pages to see new photos or check out each other’s comments. MySpace is the primary asynchronous communication tool for teens. Or. MySpace is a cultural requirement for American high school students. you don’t exist. youth check friend additions. comments about TV shows) and work out an image of how they see themselves.DDN Articles . as one teenager said.php?ArticleID=592 (3 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . share cultural artifacts (like links to funny websites. While over 85% of college students participate on Facebook if it exists on their campus. but most American teenagers have accounts on MySpace.digitaldivide.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) is still used to communicate with adults and authorities. After checking personal messages.” Not all MySpace users are teenagers.

MySpace is very open – anyone can join. While MySpace allows 14 and 15 year old users to restrict who can see their page and contact them. newsgroups). Youth are trying to map out a public youth territory for themselves.digitaldivide. chatrooms. The primary concern is that this openness puts youth at risk. Q: What is the controversy over MySpace? Is it that site in particular or as a genre of web-based-socialnetworks? danah: Like previous digital publics (blogs. substituting for the types of publics that most adults took for granted growing up. Henry: More broadly.php?ArticleID=592 (4 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . there are concerns about what aspects of their lives teens reveal through their online profiles. removed from adult culture. participate and communicate with others. They are doing so online because their mobility and control over physical space is heavily curtailed and monitored. malls. parks. Adults are confronting images of underage drinking or sex. but are now inaccessible for many young people – neighborhood basketball courts.DDN Articles . etc. most users opt to make their profiles public. making them particularly vulnerable to predators and pedophiles.net/articles/view. discussion boards. http://www.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) They also serve as digital publics.

In many cases. their sexual identities) that previous generations would have kept secret. Schools are uncertain what level of responsibility they should have over what their students do online – some are worried about what they are doing on library computers and others seek to extend their supervision into what teens are doing on their own time and off school grounds. Much of the controversy has come not as a result of anything new that MySpace and the other social software sites contribute to teen culture but simply from the fact that adults can no longer hide their eyes to aspects of youth culture in America that have been there all along. All of this is coming to head with the proposal of new federal legislation http://www.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) discussions of drug use. In some cases.php?ArticleID=592 (5 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . and signs of bullying and other abusive behavior.digitaldivide. In some cases. teens and adults have developed different notions of privacy: young people feel more comfortable sharing aspects of their lives (for example. teens do not fully understand the risks of making certain information public.DDN Articles .net/articles/view. schools are being forced to respond to real world problems which only came to their attention because this information was so publicly accessible on the web.

DDN Articles - Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)

which would require all schools and libraries which receive federal funds to restrict access to these digital tools and online communities. Q: What is the direction of your current research on new media, and how does it relate to the controversy? danah: For my doctoral dissertation, I am investigating why and how youth are engaging in digital publics like MySpace, how this affects identity development and how youth socialization has changed over the last century. This work is being funded by the MacArthur Foundation to help understand the nature of informal learning. Understanding why moral panics emerge when youth socialize is central to my research. Henry: I am currently finishing up a white paper, commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation, which seeks to identify the core social skills and cultural competencies young people need in order to become full participants in the cultural, political, economic, and social life of the 21st century. In doing this research, we are reviewing the current state of educational research surrounding participatory culture and examining how teachers are currently deploying these technologies through schools. We want in the long term to develop
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DDN Articles - Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)

new curricular materials which help parents and teachers build a more constructive relationship with new media. I also have a new book coming out this summer, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, which provides some frameworks for thinking about the new forms of participatory culture which are emerging in the digital era. Q: What do 'social networking software programs' provide participants? What's their down side? danah: By giving youth access to a public of their peers, MySpace provides a fertile ground for identity development and cultural integration. As youth transition from childhood, they seek out public environments to make sense of culture, social status and how they fit into the world. Interacting with strangers helps them understand who they are and communities of interest allow them to explore ideas and values. Although youth are able to socialize privately with one another in the homes of friends, most are not allowed to spend time hanging out in public, unaccompanied by parents or adults. They view MySpace as a place where they can be who they are, joke around with friends and make certain to stay

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DDN Articles - Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)

in the loop about everything that is going on around them. While integrating into cultural life is a critical process that takes place during these years, the actual process is not always smooth or pleasant. Bullying, sexual teasing, and other peer-to-peer harassment are rampant amongst teenagers, as these are frequently the tools through which youth learn to make meaning of popularity, social status, roles, and cultural norms. MySpace did not create teenage bullying but it has made it more visible to many adults, although it is not clear that the embarrassment online is any more damaging to the young victims than offline. Regardless of medium, the humiliation occurs when the entire school or social community knows of the attack; MySpace and other online mediums may help spread rumors faster, but they have always spread in the halls of schools pretty quickly. No one of any age enjoys being the target of public tormenting, but new media is not to blame for peer-to-peer harassment simply because it makes it more visible to outsiders. In fact, in many ways, this visibility provides a window through which teen mentors can help combat this issue. Q: What skills do students/children

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DDN Articles - Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA)

learn in working in social networks? How does these contribute (or not) to their development? Henry: As a society, we are at a moment of transition when the most important social relationships may no longer be restricted to those we conduct face to face with people in our own immediate surroundings but may also include a large number of relationships which are conducted over vast geographic distances. Over the past decade or so, we have been learning how to live in communities which are grassroots but not necessarily geographically local. We are learning how to interact across multiple communities and negotiate with diverse norms. These networking skills are increasingly important to all aspects of our lives. Social networking services are more and more being deployed as professional tools, extending the sets of contacts that people can tap in their work lives. It is thus not surprising that such tools are also part of the social lives of our teens. Just as youth in a hunting society play with bows and arrows, youth in an information society play with information and social networks. Our schools so far do a rather poor job of helping teens acquire the skills they need in order to participate within that
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digitaldivide. For starters. Q: What educational use might/does MySpace or other social network software have? Henry: Much of the current policy debate around MySpace assumes that the activities there are at best frivolous and at worst dangerous to the teens who participate. getting kids from different cultural backgrounds to share http://www. we should be teaching them how to exploit their potentials and mitigate their risks. Teachers are beginning to use blogs for knowledge sharing in schools.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) information society. yet we still focus our schools on training autonomous learners. Rather than shutting kids off from social network tools. most adult jobs today involve a high degree of collaboration. They are discovering that students take their assignments more seriously and write better if they are producing work which will reach a larger public rather than simply sit on the teacher's desk.php?ArticleID=592 (10 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] .DDN Articles . they use mailing lists to communicate expectations about homework with students and parents. Teachers are linking together classrooms around the country and around the world.net/articles/view. a growing number of teachers around the country are discovering that these technologies have real pedagogical value. Yet.

Many of these activities would be threatened by the proposed federal legislation which would restrict access to these sites via public schools or library terminals. students.digitaldivide. get feedback on their work from broader audiences and begin to develop connections with other young artists which can push them to the next level.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) aspects of their everyday experience with each other and thus learn to communicate across differences.DDN Articles .php?ArticleID=592 (11 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . which get shared through free public sites like YouTube. http://www. Students are doing their own research and contributing to sites like Wikipedia. Teachers are discovering that the design of web pages or personal profiles may function like autobiographical essays. making the best speakers in the world available to students at the most remote locations. Classes are taping podcasts of lectures at other educational institutions. encouraging adolescents to reflect more deeply on their own lives and identities and to exert more control over their self presentation. in turn.net/articles/view. Social networking sites generate a great amount of statistical data about their users which can be used as raw materials for projects in social studies or math classes. Student-made videos are used for class projects.

digitaldivide.DDN Articles . yet in practice. photo sharing sites. The law is so broadly defined that it would limit access to any commercial site that allows users to create a profile and communicate with strangers.net/articles/view. Teachers who wanted to exploit the educational benefits of these tools would face increased scrutiny and pressure to discontinue these practices. video and podcast sites. Henry: In theory. the bill would allow schools to disable these filters for use in educationally specified contexts. most schools will simply lock down their computers and walk away. but it would also block numerous other sites. including blogging tools. This legislation is targeting MySpace. and educational sites like NeoPets. how would it affect students? Teachers? Librarians? Parents? danah: Recent federal legislation.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Q: What is the essence of the proposed legislation? If passed.php?ArticleID=592 (12 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . And students would lack the http://www.” The proposed law would extend current regulations that require all federally funded schools and libraries to deploy internet filters. mailing lists. Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) would require schools and libraries that receive federal aid “to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms.

Teens who lack access to the Internet at home would be cut off from their extended sphere of social contacts. high school students currently contact college students through MySpace to learn about their schools and decide whether or not to apply.digitaldivide. Henry: Suppose. get recommendations.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) ability to explore these resources through independent research or social activities. danah: Most major technology companies are moving in the direction of social software. this legislation assumes that nothing positive can be gained through the socialization that occurs there. in fact.net/articles/view. This would all be restricted. They are using social features to help users find information. for the sake of argument. For example.DDN Articles . and share ideas.php?ArticleID=592 (13 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . that MySpace critics are correct and that MySpace is. then shouldn't the role of educational institutions be to help those teens understand those risks and develop strategies for dealing with them? Wouldn't we be better off having teens engage with MySpace in the context of supervision from knowledgeable and informed adults? http://www. Even if its application were restricted solely to MySpace. exposing large numbers of teens to high-risk situations.

predators know youth haunts better than police and decentralized systems make it difficult for police to do their job.DDN Articles . not to hide our eyes from troubling aspects of teen culture. danah: Police currently patrol MySpace.php?ArticleID=592 (14 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . Many are thankful to know where youth go online because it helps them do their job. Blocking known sites will encourage teens to go further underground and seek out places to socialize that adults are unaware of. rather. we taught children what to do when a stranger telephoned them when their parents are away. Our responsibilities as educators should be to bring reason to bear on situations which are wrought with ignorance and fear. surely.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Historically. it allows teachers and librarians to abdicate their responsibility to educate young people about what is becoming a significant aspect of their everyday lives. The proposed federal legislation does nothing to help kids confront the challenges of interacting with online social communities.net/articles/view. Too often. just as they patrol other areas where youth hang out. we should be helping to teach them how to manage the presentation of their selves in digital spaces.digitaldivide. This puts youth at http://www.

Statistically speaking. by limiting their mutual access. Since youth are on MySpace. Q: The proposed bill appears to offer protection to minors from online predators.DDN Articles . Is predation a real danger with MySpace? Are there other issues people should be aware of in weighing this legislation? danah: The media coverage of predators on MySpace implies that 1) all youth are at risk of being stalked and molested because of MySpace. predators do not use online information to abduct children. Both are misleading.01% of all youth abductions nationwide are stranger abductions and as far as we http://www. Less than . kids are more at risk at a church picnic or a boy scout outing than they are when they go on MySpace.digitaldivide.php?ArticleID=592 (15 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] .Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) increased risk and means that neither educators nor law enforcement will be around to help. there are bound to be predators on MySpace. predators lurk wherever youth hang out. neither is true. children face a much higher risk of abduction or molestation from people they already know – members of their own family or friends of the family.net/articles/view. Unfortunately. Yet. 2) prohibiting youth from participating on MySpace will stop predators from attacking kids.

most report deleting them without question. Of the adult solicitations. Predators contact teens (online and offline) to start a conversation. In other words. few report meeting these strangers. Just as most teens know to say no to strange men who approach them on the street. The goal of a predator is to get a child to consent to sexual activities.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) know. no stranger abduction has occurred because of social network services. most know to ignore strange men who approach them online. this would still be seen as a sexual solicitation. A careful reading of this report shows that 76% of the unwanted solicitations came from fellow children.digitaldivide. wanted and unwanted solicitations are both included. The media often reference a Crimes Against Children report that states one in five children receive a sexual solicitation online.php?ArticleID=592 (16 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . 96% are from people 18-25. Of those who begin conversations.DDN Articles . This includes unwanted date requests and sexual taunts from fellow teens. When teenagers receive solicitations from adults on MySpace. Those who report responding often talk about looking for attention or seeking a risk. http://www. if an 18 year old asks out a 17 year old and both consent.net/articles/view.

predators help distract us from more statistically significant molesters. http://www. The fear of predators has regularly been touted as a reason to restrict youth from both physical and digital publics. While youth are at minimal risk. Q: You have written before on antielectronic/anti-new media attitudes.net/articles/view. Yet. few actual cases have emerged.php?ArticleID=592 (17 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . most sexual solicitations are for cybersex. there is no discussion of how many are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences at school. Youth are at far greater risk of abuse in their homes and in the homes of their friends than they ever are in digital or physical publics. in the local shopping mall or through other mediated channels like telephone. Most notably.DDN Articles . While the report shows that a large percentage of youth are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences online.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Only 10% of the solicitations included a request for a physical encounter. Although the media has covered the potential risk extensively. a deputy in the Department of Homeland Security was arrested for seeking sex with a minor.digitaldivide. as Barry Glassner notes in The Culture of Fear. predators are regularly being lured out by law enforcement patrolling the site.

there is a call to take action "even if it is wrong.net/articles/view. seeking headlines. Soon. and journalists. they are looking for ways to leave their mark on the world and they are seeking places where they can socially interact with minimal adult interference.php?ArticleID=592 (18 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . The new legislation is being embraced by http://www. A single high profile incident – some kind of tragedy or crime – can spark backlash. The situation is thus ripe for moral panic." a call to action which races well ahead of any serious research or thoughtful reflection on the matters at hand. seeking readers. Political leaders. Parents and teachers are often frightened by these new kinds of communication technologies which were not part of the world of their childhood: they don't really understand what their young people are doing with them and they don't know how to protect or supervise their children while they are engaged in these activities.DDN Articles . exploit those anxieties and feed those fears.digitaldivide. Young people are often early adopters: they are more open to new ideas and experiences.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) Where does this proposed bill fit into those? Henry: History shows us a recurring pattern surrounding the adaptation of any new communications technology.

Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) politicians in both parties eager to woo cultural conservatives and suburban voters as they enter what everyone knows is going to be a hotly contested election. Rather than restrict access.DDN Articles .net/articles/view. ethical. there has been intense public concern about the digital divide. Right now.php?ArticleID=592 (19 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . things calm down again. Many of us have worked hard to insure that every kid has access to the Internet via schools http://www. MySpace is at the most disruptive point in this cycle: people are reacting in ignorance and fear and in doing so.digitaldivide. and creative use of these technologies. as the generation which grew up with these technologies takes on adult responsibilities. People develop a more balanced perspective which sees both the benefits and risks associated with these activities.are the issues raised by this legislation related to the widening or narrowing of the gap or to other things? Henry: Over the past decade. we educate our young people in the safe. as these technologies become better integrated into everyday life. Over time. they increase the risks and discard the benefits of these emerging cultural practices. Q: Most people know there is a digital divide .

the problem shifts from concerns about technical access to concerns about participation in the key social and cultural experiences which are defining the emerging generation's relationship to these technologies.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) and public libraries. We further handicap these children by placing filters on the Internet which restrict their access to information which is readily available to their more affluent classmates. And these efforts have been largely successful.php?ArticleID=592 (20 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] .digitaldivide. in insuring at least minimal levels of access. and to limit the social and cultural experiences of kids who are already behind in acquiring important networking skills that will http://www. The result will be to further isolate children from poorer economic backgrounds.net/articles/view.DDN Articles . outside of Indian reservations and some other rural pockets. And now this legislation would restrict their ability to participate in social networks or to belong to online communities. Now. if not through their own homes. to cut kids at risk from support systems which exist within their peer culture. What a kid can do at home with unlimited access is very different from what a kid can do in a public library with ten or fifteen minutes of access at a time and with no capacity to store and upload information to the web.

Q: You have said elsewhere (and several years ago) that virtual gaming experiences of today are analogous to the unfettered play in the backyards of the 1950s -. most parents understand their children's experiences in the context of their memories of their own early years. The authors of the law are reading MySpace and other social software exclusively in terms of their risks. For the baby boom generation. Its power comes through participation within its social networks. those defining experiences involved playing in backyards and vacant lots within http://www.DDN Articles . In protecting children from those risks.net/articles/view. The early discussion of the digital divide assumed that the most important concern was insuring access to information as if the web were simply a data bank.digitaldivide. All of this will compound what we are now calling the participation gap. Have social networking like MySpace or games or other new media technology become core experiences now? Henry: As I suggested above.php?ArticleID=592 (21 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . they are not focusing on the opportunities they offer for education and personal growth. they would cut them off from those educational benefits.very core & essential experiences.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) shape their professional futures.

have less time outside of adult control. The difference is that as these activities are being digitized. they are also being brought into public view. Much of this activity is being brought online.net/articles/view.php?ArticleID=592 (22 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . socializing with their friends at the local teen hangout. All of that is changing.digitaldivide. Social networks give adults a way to access their teens’ social and romantic lives and they are startled by their desire to break free from restraints or act older than their age. one of the biggest risks of http://www. Parents are experiencing this as a loss of control but in fact. adults have greater control over these aspects of their children's lives than ever before.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) suburban neighborhoods.DDN Articles . and have fewer physical places to hang out with their friends. What teens are doing online is no better and no worse than what previous generations of teens did when their parents weren't looking. Video games bring the fantasy lives of young boys into the family room and parents are shocked by what they are seeing. Contemporary children and youth enjoy far less physical mobility. Indeed. and participating within a social realm which was constrained by the people who went to your local school.

As Misa Matsuda has argued. networked technologies are allowing today’s youth to maintain “full-time intimate communities.php?ArticleID=592 (23 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] .digitaldivide. Teens used to worry about what teachers or administrators might put in their permanent records since this would impact how they were treated in the future. Yet. and that there is no longer any statute of limitations on our youthful indiscretions. easily recoverable by anyone who knows how to Google. danah: Because of mobile phones.DDN Articles . new media is allowing youth to be more deeply connected to their peers and their family members. Q: The proposed bill is a political response to a social/technological http://www. providing a powerful open channel for communication and sharing.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) these digital technologies is not the ways that they allow teens to escape adult control but rather the permanent traces left behind of their transgressive conduct.” While the socialization that takes place in digital publics is equivalent to that which occurs in physical publics. current college students report greater ongoing communication with their parents than in previous generations.net/articles/view. we are increasingly discovering that everything we do online becomes part of our public and permanent record.

digitaldivide.DDN Articles . as encouraging anti-social behaviors. Current research shows that teens who participate in massively multiplayer games develop a much stronger ability to work in teams. a greater understanding of how and when to take appropriate risks. forming the basis for new forms of digital activism. these teens are facing an array of ethical challenges which are badly understood by the adults around them. They have nowhere to turn for advice on how to confront some of the choices http://www.php?ArticleID=592 (24 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . and so forth. MySpace and the other social network tools are being read as threats to the civic order. At the same time. Young people are assuming public roles at earlier and earlier ages. an ability to rapidly process complex bodies of information. young people are using social network software to identify and rally like-minded individualism. They are interacting with larger communities of their peers and beginning to develop their own styles of leadership.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) development . Across a range of issues. But we can easily turn this around and see them as the training ground for future citizens and political leaders.net/articles/view.could you offer a political framework for considering MySpace and laws to limit access to it? Henry: Right now.

DDN Articles . They receive very little advice about how to build a constructive relationship with media within their families or how to help their offspring make ethical choices as participants in these online worlds. We see this kind of pedagogical intervention as far more valuable than locking down all public computers and then sending kids out to deal with these issues on their own. teachers. Part of the work we will be doing for the MacArthur Foundation involves the development of an ethics casebook which will help parents. As a culture.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) they make as participants within these communities. and students work through some of these issues and make sensible decisions about how they conduct their online lives.digitaldivide. we have deeply conflicted assumptions about adolescence which functions as a period of transition: Most of us recognize that teens need to take on a greater degree of http://www. Q: What suggestions do you have for parents or other adults eager to learn more about MySpace and to understand what's going on with it.net/articles/view. kids and political reactions? Henry: Parents face serious challenges in helping their children negotiate through these new online environments.php?ArticleID=592 (25 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] .

digitaldivide. Recognizing that different parents will approach these issues in different ways. 1. Build a trusting relationship through dialogue.net/articles/view. different families have different concerns and make different decisions.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) autonomy as they prepare for adult lives.DDN Articles . You need to recognize that some unfamiliar http://www. we simply disagree about the relative balance of freedom and autonomy that teens should receive. we would still offer the following as our governing philosophy for dealing with MySpace and other social software.php?ArticleID=592 (26 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . For that reason. even as they still need some degree of adult supervision to help them make sane and safe decisions. we think decisions about youth access to digital technologies should be made in the context of individual families and not form the basis of one-size-fits-all federal legislation. it is even more important to listen to what they have to say about their online experiences and why these sites are such an important part of their interactions with their peers. It is important to talk with them about your concerns. Communication with your daughter or son is key. We respect the fact that the decisions families make about media reflect some of their most deeply held values.

Take time to understand what you are seeing and what it means to participants. ideals. Create an account to understand how the site works. but not to stalk your kids. Talk about private/ public issues with your kids. They need room to explore. and media images. their teachers. 4. while possible.digitaldivide. Get them to think through all of the possible audiences who might come into contact with their online information.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) experiences look scarier from the outside than they are.php?ArticleID=592 (27 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] . It isn't and they need to consider what the consequences would be if their grandparents. Ask your kids how they choose to represent themselves and why. 2. Surveillance. 3.DDN Articles . damages a trusting parent/ child relationship. Use MySpace as a resource to start a conversation about contemporary fashion. Teens often imagine MySpace as a youth-only world. admissions officers or a future employer read what they said about http://www. Help them to understand the consequences of making certain information publicly accessible. but if you are familiar with the media and technology that they consume. you can provide valuable guidance and suggestions.net/articles/view.

edu and we will do our best to respond. NetSmartz and SafeTeens. Henry and danah: We welcome further questions from parents. 5. Related Communities Access Content Cool Tools CyberEd Resources : ICT's and Education Games and Education « Return | Top http://www.Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) themselves. Please send your questions to myspaceissues@mit. including MySpace policies. Our feeling is that there should be more public discussion of the opportunities and risks represented by MySpace and other social networks.DDN Articles . Helping your children learn how to negotiate such public environments is a great educational opportunity. A growing number of sites provide useful information about how to confront such problems. The “Safety Tips” section of MySpace also provides information for both parents and teens. including Net Family News .digitaldivide.php?ArticleID=592 (28 of 29) [2007-07-13 19:24:28] .net/articles/view. Talk through what kids should do if they receive unwanted attention online or if they find themselves the victims of cyberbullying.

Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License A project of TakingITGlobal .DDN Articles .

They are early adopters of new technologies and willing to experiment with new relationships to culture. relationship will play itself out across the broadest possible array of media channels. Right now.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture BigShinyThing Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture Monday 14 August 2006 Need To Know Always Touched by Your Presence. involvement. You are a fan of fans. and argue that fans have long been ahead of the convergence curve. Wii vs. Prince Covermount Deal Irks Retailers Legendary musician cuts out the middleman for release of his next album research. Facebook. or… Something Wikid Wikipedia reports on the death of Chris Benoit’s wife 14 hours before the police find her body. and socially networked. image. the Nintendo Wii is apparently hacking into TV ratings in Japan. What Goooogle Knoooows about Yoooou Is there any part of our lives online and offline that Google doesn’t know about? Save the Spitz A London music landmark needs your help. how teams of artists and designers were employed to conceal and distort everything from soldiers to battleships and how camouflage concepts and designs have influenced contemporary art and fashion from street-style to couture. Director of the Comparative Media Studies graduate program at MIT. poking and Being Here. and was recently published to rave reviews from all sides. they are acquiring and mastering these skills through their play with popular culture. Convergence Culture: Where Old Enter search text Enter email address Search Subscribe Insurgent Media Networks A new report offers a perspective on the media war being fought by Sunni insurgents in Iraq… New Gold Dream? Is it just us. lot about their place in the offline world… and the social networking site backlash. transformation. He kindly granted BigShinyThing an exclusive email interview. His new book. This convergence is shaped top-down by decisions made in corporate boardrooms by companies wishing to tap their cross-media ownership and bottom-up by decisions made in teen’s bedrooms as they want to consume the media they want where they want it and when they want it. Over the last few years. ● r PhotoSynth: Making the World… …One snapshot at a time Arse About Facebook II It’s not often we post back-toback on the same topic. Is there an essential difference between fan-created content and other content contributions from the ‘former audience’? Fans have been and are likely to continue to be the shock troops in this transformation of our culture — highly motivated. (We might also throw into this category http://www. we’ve been paying great attention to the writings of Henry Jenkins. For a while now. The Way We Live Now Modelling 9/11.bigshinything. we caught up Class Divide Young Americans’ choice of with Jenkins via email to get our readers the lowdown on his MySpace or FaceBook says a persuasive arguments about fan culture. but today we’re fired up about Facebook… Arse about Facebook Social networking and the culture of me. but soon they will be applying them towards other powerful institutions. TV In a fantastic bit of PR. collaborative production. passionately committed. Now a much wider community is participating in cultural creation. he’s argued that the participatory creation led by fans and gamers heralds a transformation in creative media. Henry Jenkins’ new book tells the story of emergent participatory media. The MySpace/FaceBook THINGS TO SEE & DO TODAY Camouflage They say: "Find out how and why a revolution in camouflage occurred during the First World War.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (1 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . Dear. with their understanding that the ‘text’ of the stories they care about is open to engagement. And Stuff. brand. What Goes On ● While impatiently waiting for our copy to arrive. Consumers are gaining a new power as they learn to operate within the knowledge cultures emerging within a networked society and as they learn to share media they’ve produced with each other." We say: "DAZZLE SHIPS! DAZZLE SHIPS!" BST: We’re still waiting for your book to turn up in the mail! Can you tell us a little about its premise? JENKINS: We live in an age where every story.

which is happening to different groups of people at differing times. which has already occurred. Not everyone will want to spoil reality television programs — some will simply enjoy the new relationships to the program the spoiler community helps to create for them.) There are signs that fan culture practices and products are spreading throughout the culture. Nice To Know The Simpsons meet Couture Trannies Got Talent Blaira As you define it. Not everyone will write fan stories — some may share critical responses with the authors. interrogation. construction. Recent statistics from the Pew Center of Internet and American Life found that more than half of teens online produce some form of media and many of them shared what they produced by others. if such a person exists as a type? Who exemplifies this. is ‘convergence’ an historical event. each of these would be accurate. I would imagine fans may still enjoy a privileged status in participatory culture but more and more people will benefit from the once invisible cultural work of fans. But I also see convergence as an ongoing process — not an endpoint — so it doesn’t make sense to read it as a historical event that has already occured. reassembly. As writers like Will Wright and Raph Koster have suggested. and why? http://www. Given this.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (2 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . Not everyone will want to spend massive amounts of time generating new content — some will simply want to engage with content others have produced.bigshinything. means that we are not all living in convergence culture in the same ways or the same degrees.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture other highly motivated groups such as bloggers and gamers. then. But the expansion of this participatory culture changes the context in which media content gets produced and distributed and thus it impacts all of us one way or another. in that ‘his’ identity was open to invention. So are people who join discussion forms or sign up for RSS feeds to get more information about their favorite band or television program. during which we are living. as well as the uneven distribution of media technologies. even if some aspects of the change have been building over an extended period of time at this point. I challenge those who think of convergence as a technological process and feel that we are a long way from integrating our communications technologies. If it is an epoch. I suggest we are already living in a convergence culture if we take advantage of the many kludged together ways that content travels across media platforms right now. it is one that is just beginning and the long term consequences of these shifts are going to play themselves out for years and years to come. In the book. They are part of the participatory culture I am describing. I do think convergence is going to define our relationship to media for an extended period of time forward so it is in some ways an epoch. or something experiential. in different ways? That’s an interesting question. Rather Lovely The ‘Renaissance Man’ was a new creature. there is a pyramid of participation. an epoch (like the Renaissance). In some ways. What defines the ‘Convergence Person’. But I also think the transitional nature of the present moment.

and what is known by any member is accessible to the group on demand.bigshinything. with the explosion of information we are all experiencing. works seek to be cultural attractors. Today. we see knowledge as dispersed across social networks. you need the skills and creativity of professional creators. Second. Lost would seem to be a show which does very well by the first http://www. the Convergence Person is a creature of adhocracy and pooled information. And the final step in this process may be to find ways to monitor and amplify the creative energies of these fan communities to sustain popular interest in your program. If consumption is now social and communal. I offer two terms to refer to the aesthetic goals of convergence culture. as seems to be the case of Lost. First.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture The Renaissance Man was someone who sought to contain within their own individual intellect as much as possible of what anyone on the planet at that time knew. far fewer which achieve the second. they often must tap existing cultural references in the way that Lost or The Matrix or Harry Potter can be said to do. The Renaissance Man was a creature of hierarchy and expertise. nobody knows everything. To achieve the first two. Do you feel that converged culture offers specific opportunities to — or imposes particular obligations on — the ‘official’ creators of fictional worlds (open-endedness. you have to create a context where grassroots creativity is respected rather than shut down. it is simply not humanly possible to know everything. some roles and goals. Today. works seek to be cultural activators.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (3 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . Or it can simply be the show embeds lots of secrets and thus opens itself up to a prolonged process of decryption. This is where Pierre Levy’s notion of Collective Intelligence enters the picture. To do that. the next step out would be to provide raw materials which fans then want to recombine in new ways and thus generate new forms of cultural expression. Most of us alive today know more about a broader range of topics than most of the people living in the Renaissance but we know a much smaller portion of what could be known that the idealized vision of the Renaissance Man suggests. Once you’ve designed a cultural attractor and activator. some meaningful form of participation. To achieve the second two. then certain works will attract together people of similar interests so that they can begin to pool knowledge together. unresolved story arcs etc)? In the book. Everybody knows something. They give audiences something to do — some activity. There are plenty of shows that achieve the first. The Convergence Person thus knows how to tap that network to get the knowledge they need and knows how to make meaningful contributions back to the group in return. This can be literally the case in terms of the mechanisms of participation that surround reality television or computer games.

you can argue that it is the most vivid example of the potential of niche media for market success. Any thoughts on what it would take for a truly converged global music culture and if/when it will happen? I think you are measuring success by the old standards — looking for mega-hits — whereas the greatest impact of globalization in media content so far comes on the other end of Chris Anderson’s long tail. The Nichification of music is suggested by something like MySpace which emerged initially as a vehicle for helping people to find music that they liked by tapping their social networks. In that regard. a decade plus later. While music can be a shared resource within subcultural communities. as Jason Mittell has noted. The massification of music might be suggested by something like American Idol — which has self consciously sought to generate music that will appeal across a broad demographic (though in reality. As of this summer. it is one of the highest rated shows on American television despite the fact that. in general. than when the series was first broadcast. it’s not happened — music in particular seems to exist in tight local (spatial or cultural) ghettos of genre. This is a classic illustration of the ways that fans can help extend the shelf life of media products. there is very little music we listen to as a culture at large. we’ve anticipated some global crossover hit from somewhere other than the ‘first world’. This may be because the series is so demanding and people are still so unsettled in their expectations about what is actually going on there. Global media in the West remains niche media.) It is designed in a way to generate constant secrets which we want to uncover and thus providing fuel for the participation of large scale knowledge communities.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (4 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . the Lost Team has pushed this one step further by creating an alternate reality game that will generate new opportunities for participation and socialization around the series.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture two criteria: a decade ago. With the advent of weightless digital media. There has so far been fewer signs of audiences recreating Lost or creating the next generation of Lost on their own. the best Idols have turned out to be second run http://www. Music is. Lost may generate more new culture once it is finished than it has so far. emblematic of that new relationship with the consumer. This was certainly the case with Twin Peaks which only really started to inspire fan fiction once it was off the air. The map which was flashed across the screen for a split second in a single episode is. Now. Indeed. it has more subscribers now. it is also one of the most intellectually demanding shows on American television (or more precisely because it is so demanding. but so far. defined right now by ever more precise niches or “ghettos of genre” to use your term. There has been some suggestion that the Lost writers also monitor online communities and reshape the story in response to their speculations. as you note above. It is spectacular though to recognize that Wrapped in Plastic. as Steven Johnson has pointed out.bigshinything. is still being produced and read — and if anything. Lost would be a cult show like Twin Peaks was in its time. a fanzine produced when the show was first aired.

PVR/DVR. The result will be something like the pan and scan prints of films which have been reconfigured to fit our television screens as opposed to the letterboxed prints that reflect a recognition of the aesthetic practices that shaped the original product and seek a meaningful compromise as it is moved into the new medium. dramatically under-perform in these new contexts. Nigerian horror films. the other a new possibility for gifted entertainers. and the reader is able to expand on their experience of a favorite story by pulling together bits and pieces of information from various sources. This is a system where each medium makes a distinct contribution to the media franchise. Bollywood films.) Right now. I think one has to develop strategies appropriate for each space. We are already seeing that there are television series that do spectacularly well on video iPod that are not ratings champs on broadcast and other shows. what’s the challenge. etc. There will of course be some content that moves easily from platform to platform but in general. Latin America soaps. anime and manga. We are seeing this culture brought into the western market by a mixture of Otaku (fans) and Desi (immigrants): fans seek out difference where-ever they can find it in the world. We’ve seen this in cinema where the expressive uses of cinemascope found in the 1950s when films were designed for the big screen have given way to the pretty limited use of the frame edges that characterize current filmmaking practice. sitcoms. I discuss this in the book in terms of The Matrix where the films. but in fairly localized communities of interests. mobile phone) makes for a fundamental challenge to creators of ‘content’? If so.bigshinything. The alternative is what I am calling transmedia storytelling or more broadly transmedia entertainment. This is an idea that’s been kicking around for a while and this practice shows little to no appreciation of the aesthetic and social dimensions of those various media. Both contribute to a cultural landscape where global media is more readily available. The dead end is the idea of developing content that simply gets reconfigured easily across all of those platforms. However big the screen looks in the theatre. and where do you see this challenge leading? Ok — there are two potential challenges — one a dead-end. And the results can take off dramatically. Do you think that the diversification of modes of media consumption (iPod.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (5 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . the significant action has to play out within the boxed window which will be visible on the television screen. To create media content that is mechanically reconfigured across all of those platforms is to produce content that really exploits the potentials of none of those media. immigrants seek to maintain ties back to the mother country which they left. http://www. each is left to do what it does best. home cinema. I see people consuming more and more media from other parts of the world — global fusion music.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture performers on the show who then get pulled into specialized niches once they depart it.

for example. My hunch is that we are going to see a variety of delivery mechanisms for the foreseeable future and indeed. They will only last if they are seen by consumers as serving necessary functions or if they serve a clear niche in the new media infrastructure. However.bigshinything. Nobody I suspect imagines the video iPod say is the best possible way to watch television. danah boyd and yourself seem to have become (reluctantly) the most visible defenders of young people’s rights to explore and create identity using emergent media. and what http://www. PVRs. and I find that I prefer to watch dvds on a portable dvd player rather than my laptop. We are convinced that the current proliferation of hardware and software is but a moment ie netflix. My hunch is that as soon as some media functions get integrated. I believe that transmedia storytelling represents the most compelling way to use convergence to expand the canvas on which our most creative entertainers work.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture animation. We are seeing that divergence as demonstrated by specialized devices is part of the process by which convergence operates.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (6 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . I don’t happen to like the idea of my cell phone as a media appliance. These are probably idiosyncratic choices but then. On the other hand. chargeable film downloads. This goes back to what I say about convergence being a process rather than an endpoint. the point is that every consumer wants their own unique mix of media appliances because they like certain affordances each offers in specific contexts. the media industry at large appears to be in denial about this — do you agree? I am much more interested in predicting where our culture is going than predicting where technology is going. This doesn’t mean that all of the stop gap measures you are referring to above are here to stay. but we may never reach a technological steady state. and comics each made unique and integral contributions to the whole. This is similar to the “media mix” culture that has emerged in Japan. no fully integrated technological infrastructure. It simply came along at the right moment to provide an infrastructure to support television content on demand. but it seems that the young people growing up now have to reclaim reedoms that have somehow subsequently been lost without a fight — any thoughts on what went wrong with the relationship between children and tools/media. games. ever more complex integrations of media content. before content moves entirely online (reaches convergence). We are going to see ever more complicated configurations of media. And we will see a better solution emerge. for example. We remember when ‘learning-though-doing’ with technology and media was at the core of education. that there will be no steady state of media convergence. someone else will offer a new appliance that seperates them out again for consumers who want a different relationship to media content. We are already seeing Netflix and other services experiment with new ways to get movies into the hands of consumers besides mailing dvds. there are signs that people still want to buy books even where they can download the content for free on the web.

They simply lose federal funding if they do so.0 applications used more fully in the classroom. It can take a generation to reverse those constraints — more particularly. it will be a law that is going to be hard to challenge in courts. we wired the classroom — now what? We now face the participation gap — the gap between those who have unlimited access to new media outside of school (and more importantly. With MySpace.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (7 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . Technically it isn’t censorship. Young people have always been on the cutting edge of media change as they search for ways to escape the surveillance of their parents and define their own space in the world. teachers. identity. lawyers. on filtered computers. “Let’s build a bridge to the 21st century. we were lucky that few of the laws passed in that phase of moral panic withstood judicial review. This is going to be a huge step back for participatory culture and a big step back for those of us who want to see Web 2.bigshinything. the skills and experiences they enable) and those who have limited bandwidth. Let’s wire our classroom. etc)? In a way.” Well. Parents are often spooked by their relationship to these technologies that were not part of the culture of their own childhoods. It became all about the digital divide which got defined in terms of access to technologies. What is shocking is that it is occuring with so little real public discussion because the mainstream media has done everything it can to scare people about MySpace and has little interest in reporting the truth about this story. That said. Schools are not prohibited for allowing youth to access MySpace. we see a reversal of course which allows us to adopt a more normalized attitude towards those technologies and practices. The result is going to be a law which we will actively have to repel once the generation that has grown up using social network software becomes adults. I think there was a fatal mistake in the discourse about youth and digital media in the 1990s. They gravitate towards the new and the shiny and they are willing to put in the time to adopt it to their needs and interests. it takes the generation which came of age with those technologies to take on adult roles as parents. and opportunistic politicians to turn their fear into a moral panic which results in laws and regulations that try to put the genie back in the bottle again. Then.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture we grownups can do to help them maintain and/or win back their right to play (with technology. All it takes is one shocking tragedy — something like the Columbine shooting — to turn their ignorance into fear and then it takes the mixture of moral reformers. With Columbine and video games. And the Federal government can make any stipulation it wants on how it distributes its funds. sensationalistic media. each generation of young people across history have had to fight their own battles for expressive freedom and for the right to play with technology and identity. limited access. We dealt with the technological challenges but not the http://www. They don’t know how to protect their children as they go into that space — and this is part of the point. This wasn’t true of [Seymour] Papert and a few others but it became the mantra. and citizens. we are apt to be less lucky because if DOPA passes.

fan culture. youth Add a Comment Name (required) Mail (will not be published) (required) Website Submit Comment ● SEE ALSO: Transmedia: The Future of Television Isn't What It Used To Be: Anyone see the season finale of Criminal Minds?.. social networking.com/henry-jenkins-on-convergence-culture (8 of 8) [2007-07-29 00:59:44] . I am very involved right now in developing the case for a very different form of media education — one which grows out of a desire to enable kids to become more active participants in the participatory culture I describe in my book. Not OurSpace. co-creation. That’s where Convergence Culture ends — with the call for new media literacies — and that’s where my new book begins. iPod. The Legend of LonelyGirl15: An online fiction with a life of its own. Posted by Darrell | Tags: books.. future... Elseware. ● ● http://www. and all of the other things the most digitally adept kids are doing now. TheirSpace. We think parents are missing the generational sea change that really should scare them. television.: This Year's Moral Panic about young people's safety concerns social networking sites. media theory.. interview. And we have been held hostage by a culture war discourse that has been very effective at transforming adult ignorance into fear and backlash against those forms of cultural experience teens have found for themselves in the online world. LICENSE: This article is provided under a Creative Commons license. Convergence Culture. games. We are going to be releasing a white paper later this fall that paves the way for a whole range of pedagogical activities designed to help teachers and parents better appreciate the value of gaming.BigShinyThing » Henry Jenkins: On Convergence Culture social and cultural challenges.. Henry Jenkins. transmedia. fan fiction writing.bigshinything.. MySpace..

2007 Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube The following is adapted from remarks I made at the International Communications Association conference in San Francisco this past week. Beth Noveck. I was asked to be part of a plenary session organized by Fred Turner. In the past. nonprofit. As such.a space where commercial." which also featured Howard Rheingold.Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube « Chris Williams Respond to Our Questions Main about FanLib Switching Channels: Branding Network TV in an Era of Mass-less Media(Part One) » May 28.org/2007/05/9_propositions_towards_a_cultu. and Tiziana Terranova. I've included links back to the original posts from which these ideas have evolved. "What's So Significant about Social Networking?: Web 2. Bloggers and Gamers Buy at Amazon Buy at Powells One interesting illustration of this is the emergence of Astroturf -. these powerful interests would have been content to exert their control over broadcast and mass market media but now.fake grassroots media -. amateur.henryjenkins. but I thought you might find them interesting distilled down in this form. they often have to mask their power in order to operate within network culture. and activist content co-exists and interacts in ever more complex ways. We had ten minutes to speak so I took this as a challenge and offered nine big ideas about the place of YouTube in contemporary culture. it potentially represents a site of conflict and renegotiation between different forms of power. (For those Convergence Culture Buy at Amazon Buy at Powells who may be joining us from the ICA crowd.html (1 of 7) [2007-09-06 05:08:26] .) 1. YouTube represents the kind of hybrid media space described by Yochai Benkler in The Wealth of Networks -. Fans. governmental.0 and Its Critical Potential.through which very powerful groups attempt to mask themselves as powerless in order to gain greater credibility within participatory culture. Many of these ideas will be familiar to regular readers of this blog since most of them have evolved here over the past year. http://www. educational.

they are learning techniques and practices from each other. accelerating innovation within and across these different communities of practice.with content gaining much greater visibility and circulation when promoted via blogs.Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube The Wow Climax Buy at Amazon Buy at Powells 2. as is often claimed in news coverage. quick adoption. Much that is written about YouTube implies that the availability of Web 2. Increasingly.org/2007/05/9_propositions_towards_a_cultu. it's real breakthrough came in making it easy for people to spread its content across the web. 3. YouTube participants respond to the endless flow and multiple channels of mass media by making selections. and subcultures come together through this common portal. The media companies are uncertain how to deal with the curatorial functions of YouTube: seeing it as a form of viral marketing on some occasions and a threat to their control over their intellectual property on others. taking advantage of a world where most people have cameras embedded in their cellphones which they carry with them everywhere they go. YouTube operates. One might well ask whether the "You" in YouTube is singular or plural. YouTube has emerged as the meeting point between a range of different grassroots communities involved in the production and circulation of media content. or for the expression of shared visions within common communities? I would argue that the most powerful content on YouTube comes from and is taken up by specific communities of practice and is thus in that sense a form of cultural collaboration. and the like.henryjenkins. YouTube represents a shift away from an era of stickiness (where the goal was to attract and hold spectators on your site. choosing meaningful moments which then get added to a shared archive. brand communities. Is YouTube a site for personal expression. We can see this when Colbert and his staff encourage fans to remix his content the same week that Viacom seeks legal action to have Colbert clips removed from YouTube 4. While some people come and surf YouTube. In that regard. YouTube represents a site where amateur curators assess the value of commercial content and re-present it for various niche communities of consumers. as an important site for citizen journalists. We can see many examples http://www. But as these various fan communities. we are finding clips that gain greater visibility through YouTube than they achieved via the broadcast and cable channels from which they originated.) 5. given the fact that the same word functions for both in the English language.html (2 of 7) [2007-09-06 05:08:26] . and diverse use of platforms like YouTube. MySpace. Live Journal. YouTube's value depends heavily upon its deployment via other social networking sites -. like a roach motel) and towards an era where the highest value is in spreadability (a term which emphasizes the active agency of consumers in creating value and heightening awareness through their circulation of media content. A classic example of this might be the Colbert appearance at the Washington Press Club Dinner. alongside Flickr.0 technologies has enabled the growth of participatory cultures. I would argue the opposite: that it was the emergence of participatory cultures of all kinds over the past several decades that has paved the way for the early embrace.

and the like as leading figures in a struggle for control over the White House. we should also recognize that participatory culture is not always progressive. our dreamscapes will not be created by media-savvy experts of the left and then handed down to the rest of us to watch. Italian-Americans. YouTube helps us to see the shifts which are occurring in the cultural economy: the grassroots culture appropriates and remixes content from the mass media industry..a politics that employs symbols and associations. a politics that tells good stories. They will be open-ended: setting stages to ask questions and leaving silences to formulate answers.. 7. Yet as they do so. YouTube may embody a particular opportunity for translating participatory culture into civic engagement. consume. And..henryjenkins. In many ways. our spectacles will be participatory: dreams that the public can mold and shape themselves.org/2007/05/9_propositions_towards_a_cultu. the spectacles we create will not cover over or replace reality and truth but perform and amplify it. even the footage of Sadam Hussein's execution. deploy participatory media to respond to a race which includes women. sexism. YouTube may best embody the vision of a more popular political culture that Stephen Duncombe discusses in his new book. Given the progressive ideals of egalitarianism and a politics that values the input of everyone. amplifying them and spreading them to other populations. Yet as we do so. Instead. finally. Michael Richards's racist outburst in the nightclub. they often alter the social and economic relations which fueled this cultural production in http://www. However low they may set the bar. Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in the Age of Fantasy: Progressives should have learned to build a politics that embraces the dreams of people and fashions spectacles which gives these fantasies form . and believe. Catholics. we should have learned to manufacture dissent. The ways that Apple's "1984" advertisement was appropriated and deployed by supporters of Obama and Clinton as part of the political debate suggests how central YouTube may become in the next presidential campaign.Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube of stories or images in the past year which would not have gotten media attention if someone hadn't thought to record them as they unfolded using readily accessible recording equiptment: George Allen's "macaca" comments. the existing political parties do set limits on what they will say in the heat of the political debate and we should anticipate waves of racism. In brief. operating outside of those rules and norms. the tazering incident in the UCLA library. the mass media industry monitors trends and pulls innovations back into the system. Hispanics. African-American. 6.html (3 of 7) [2007-09-06 05:08:26] . They will be active: spectacles that work only if the people help create them. and other forms of bigotry as a general public. are a product of this powerful mixture of mobile technology and digital distribution. Mormans. And they will be transparent: dreams that one knows are dreams but which still have power to attract and inspire.

cgi/1276 Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube: » Ypulse Essentials from Ypulse Is Disney fueling the growth of tween mags? (if they've revived jump roping.henryjenkins. Plus tweens still love the pin-ups [I.at least among the most heavily viewed videos on YouTube.Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube the first place. minorities are grossly under-represented -. We need to be concerned with the participation gap as much as we are concerned with the digital divide. it makes sense that their stable of tween stars would be a big draw to titles like J-14 and Bop. The digital divide has to do with access to technology. As John McMuria has shown us. Posted by Henry Jenkins at 12:00 AM | Permalink TrackBack TrackBack URL for this entry: http://cms.ICA Plenary from Cairns Blog http://www.edu/mt/mt-tb. whose work gets seen.. and what gets valued within the new participatory culture.org/2007/05/9_propositions_towards_a_cultu. 9. YouTube teaches us that a participatory culture is not necessarily a diverse culture.html (4 of 7) [2007-09-06 05:08:26] .. [Read More] Tracked on May 29. If we want to see a more "democratic" culture. social networking emerges as one of the important social skills and cultural competencies that young people need to acquire if they are going to become meaningful participants in the culture around them. which still tend to come most often from white middle class males. the participation gap has to do with access to cultural experiences and the skills that people acquire through their participation within ongoing online communities and social networks. In the age of YouTube. We will see increasing debates about the relations between the gift economy of participatory culture and the commodity relations that characterize user-generated content. There is certainly a way that these sites can be seen as a way of economic exploitation as they outsource media production from highly paid and specialized creative workers to their amateur unpaid counterparts. we need to explore what mechanisms might encouraged greater diversity in who participates. 8. 2007 3:39 PM » The Critical Potential of Social Networking .mit.

html (5 of 7) [2007-09-06 05:08:26] .org/2007/05/9_propositions_towards_a_cultu. and pajama-dancing. Clearly they cannot perform authenticity in the way other YouTube members do. this seems ballpark-consistent with what I've been seeing throughout. 2007 12:14 AM Here's an interesting bit: EU regulators apparently currently view Youtube as a medium which is not only "neither TV nor TV-like" but also apparently not "a linear or non-linear audiovisual service" and **therefore not an "audio-visual media service" altogether. and while unpublished. There seems to be an interesting contradiction between the culture of YouTube dominated by parody and spoofing. the plenary panel on The Critical Potential of Social Networking at the International Communications Association (ICA) in San Francisco on Friday. I've been doing some examination of Youtube contributions for the past few months. there appears to be quite a strong international representation. Posted by: Eric Cook | May 29.henryjenkins. and the seriousness of the role of presidential candidates who aspire to lead the nation. 12 of them (60%) led to videos that were non-English in either spoken or written content. Posted by: Sonja Baumer | May 31.Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube Alas. 2007 was not recorded. by broadcasting from their bedrooms. clipping their favorite TV shows. As an example. but in the total body of contributions. May 25. This observation might also be read as support for points 1 and 2 above. So far this contradiction made it difficult for presidential candidates to fully leverage the potential of YouTube as a social medium.** http://www. a quick look at the Most Recent Uploads page this morning showed that of the 20 links on the page. The following is an attempt to re-create faithfully (of the course the [Read More] Tracked on May 29. 2007 9:22 PM Comments In regards to point 9: the popular videos on Youtube may in fact be less than diverse. 2007 11:44 AM An interesting question is also how 2008 presidential candidates negotiate their participation on YouTube.

the likes of youtube is subject to far less EU regulation (to the chagrin of broadcasters and cable/DTH operators) http://www.paidcontent.wsj. .Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube So consequently. 2007 7:04 PM Subscribe to the Comments for this entry.org/entry/419-youtube-is-not-yet-tv-ec-says-clarifying-new-rules/ http://online.html Posted by: Zhan | May 31.com/article_email/SB118004402666113909-lMyQjAxMDE3ODIwNTAyNDU0Wj.