Henry Jenkins to Speak about Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination

World-renowned media scholar Henry Jenkins will be speaking at William and Mary at 5PM in Tucker Hall 127A on Friday, February 9th. Professor Jenkins is the author of over a dozen books and is a frequent cultural commentator about fan communities and new media. He is currently the Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and co-founded the program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT.

His topic will be Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination. Jenkins will define civic imagination as the capacity to imagine alternatives to current cultural, social, political, or economic conditions. In Jenkins' words, "one cannot change the world unless one can imagine what a better world might look like."

According to Jenkins, the civic imagination also requires the capacity to see one's self as a civic agent capable of making change, as part of a larger collective which has shared interests, as an equal participant within a democratic culture, and as feeling solidarity with others whose perspectives and experiences are different than one's own. Research on the civic imagination has represented a space where the humanities meet the social sciences, where we can explore the political consequences of cultural representations and the cultural roots of political participation. Jenkins argues that fiction can be an important factor in developing the civic imagination, including works in young adult literature, graphic novels, and video games.

This talk will draw on a range of examples taken from a forthcoming Casebook on the Civic Imagination and Popular Culture drawn from political and social movements around the world. The talk will explain and illustrate the concept with a particular focus on the ways popular culture has become a central resource inspiring movements for social change and provoking participants to push for political alternatives.

Interested Virginians can find his blog at http://henryjenkins.org

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