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Henry Jenkins - Call and Response Prompt for Issue One

Published onJul 10, 2020
Henry Jenkins - Call and Response Prompt for Issue One

Often, media studies is preoccupied with texts which are abstracted from their materiality, yet we live in a world which is awash with stuff. Here, I want you to focus on artefacts rather than texts, on memorable objects with which you may reflect on why you became interested in studying media in the first place. Here, we are tapping into recent work in anthropology and sociology which explores how humans map meaning onto their possessions, how our belongings often express a sense of belonging, and how the exchange of things helps to shape our relations with other people in our lives. In this tradition, certain objects are seen as telling — that is, they yield stories that help us to better understand the people around us. When we are asked to show off things that are meaningful to us, we engage in a process of self-fashioning — we construct and perform our identities through the stuff we share (both the objects themselves and the emotional baggage they carry for us). So, what kinds of stuff do we meaningfully and memorably accumulate as students and fans of audiovisual media? How might we trace the ways they entered our lives, the roles they play in constructing identity, forming relations, and managing memory, and the forms of value and worth they hold for us? What do they tell us more generally about the ways larger groups of people have experienced media?

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