Proseminar – Henry Jenkins & Mimi Ito

Grad Student Brown Bag

Discussion with Henry Jenkins and Mimi Ito

Today was a treat! IU Telecom’s T600 featured two prolific individuals deeply involved in fandom and participatory cultures research. Jenkins began his career in the late 80s and was frustrated with the current state of media research. The obsession with objectivity drove scientists away from the very material they wished to understand. Because of this, Jenkins went in the opposite direction with the idea that you cannot write about popular culture unless you immerse yourself in it. Rather than being in direct opposition to objectivity, he stressed that you must have a clear understanding of the relationship between your interest and your object of study.

Ito began by discussing the frustrations of feeling like an outsider. One of her primary ideas was making that outsider feeling an asset, rather than a detriment. Ito’s career was marked by selecting academic freedom over job security. Having largely avoided what typically earns a scholar tenure, she cultivated a unique body of research (e.g., investigating fandom cultures of anime in the U.S. and Japan). Ito provided many insights for the budding academic. Perhaps the most poignant was her call that individuals ask questions that cross domains and appeal to the intersections of ideas, as powerful insight lies at these intersections.