This week I finally had the chance to open up my copy of Henry Jenkins’s new book, co-authored with Sam Ford and Joshua Green, Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. In January I had the opportunity not only to see Henry Jenkins give a presentation on his new book, but I was invited to a seminar where participants had an opportunity to have an exchange with Jenkins about the book. In advance of the seminar I read the introduction to Spreadable Media. Excited by what I read, I ordered a copy of the book but was unable to give it more attention until now.
Although I am a bit of a newcomer to Jenkins’s work, having just discovered Textual Poachers in the first year of my PhD program, I very quickly read a large body of his work, which spanned a period of time from 1991 to 2006. In this way, I have been able to trace his changing conceptions of fandom, participatory culture, and media. In a paper I wrote in my first year of the program for Bart Simon’s course, Technoculture and Everyday Life, I highlighted how in Textual Poachers fandom culture was viewed as an escape from everyday life, from “mundania,” whereas in Convergence Culture fandom practices were now considered an integral component of the everyday lives of fans and audiences more generally. Similarly, in a book review of Convergence Culture I questioned whether Jenkins completely abandons his use of Michel de Certeau’s concepts of strategies and tactics in the book, or conversely if he continues to use them but acknowledges that both strategies and tactics can be used by producers and consumers, audiences and the industry, complicating a simple theory of fandom and participatory culture as one of domination and resistance.
As I continue to read Spreadable Media, I am eager to explore how Jenkins’s work continues to expand certain concepts and ideas, especially in connection to circulation. As the tagline to the book reads: “if it doesn’t spread it’s dead.”