Name: Henry Jenkins
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Favorite thing about hometown? Atlanta and Los Angeles, despite their different cultural histories, have much in common – both are now sprawling, constantly changing, cities with diverse populations and distinctive neighborhood based cultures. Atlanta today is totally different from the city I grew up in during the Civil Rights Era – it is a dream still in the process of becoming real. But every time I go back, I encounter something that surprises me, and yet, I still know where to go to get good corn bread and fried okra.
What do you enjoy doing? Anyone who follows my work knows what I enjoy doing because I write about the things I love. For me, that involves consuming lots of media of all kinds but especially comics, television, and film (at this point, probably in that order).
What classes do you teach at Annenberg? On the undergraduate level, I teach courses on communication technology and culture (COMM 202) and Comics and Graphic Storytelling (JOUR 493). On the graduate level, I teach classes on such topics as Fandom, Participatory Culture and Web 2.0, Cultural Studies of Communication, Public Intellectuals: Theory and Practice, Science Fiction AS Media Theory, Civic Media and Participatory Politics, New Media Literacies, and Transmedia Branding. I also teach two classes in the Cinema School – Transmedia Storytelling and Entertainment and Medium Specificity.
What would you say is your most notable achievement? I’ve written or edited more than 15 books. Each is special to me in its own ways. Textual Poachers helped to open up a space for the academic study of fandom. Convergence Culture is probably the book which has reached the broadest readership around the world.
What’s your favorite thing about Annenberg? I love working with Annenberg graduate students, who come here from all over the world. I love the ways that so many of them are trying to bridge the worlds of theory and practice, are trying to do public-facing work which makes a difference in the world. They are asking cutting edge questions, trying new methods, always pushing the boundaries of what Communication means as a field.
How would you describe your Annenberg experience? I moved to USC seven years ago after spending 20 years at MIT. For me, the experience has been transformative. It’s allowed me to do new projects, explore new directions, and work with new people. I thought at first I was in a honeymoon period, but the afterglow is still there.
What advice do you have to give Annenberg students? Take advantage of where you are. That means, being open to exploring the full range of courses the school offers, but beyond that, going out and exploring Los Angeles, which is such a remarkable setting for studying media and culture. Do not be afraid to move outside of your comfort zone and try something – maybe one thing every week – that you never imagined yourself doing before.