Henry Jenkins

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Name: Henry Jenkins
Also Known As:
Occupation: academic, acafan
Works: Textual Poachers (1992), his Christmas Carol fan fiction, other works
Official Website(s): Confessions of an Acafan
Henry3 at MIT
Fan Website(s):
Henry Jenkins, photo from his blog
On Fanlore: Related pages


"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk." ~ Henry Jenkins (1997) [1]

Henry Jenkins, an professor and acafan, is the author of the massively influential Textual Poachers, as well as many other books about media fandom.

Jenkins, who self-identifies as a fan, is a frequent attendee at fan cons and has created fanworks of his own.

He wrote a slash Scrooge/Marley story in the zine, Not What You Expect [2], Blake's 7 meta for Shadow #5, was a member of the APA Strange Bedfellows, and wrote Letters of Comment to at least one Star Trek: TOS letterzine, Hellguard Social Register.

During Gaylaxicon 1992, Jenkins appeared on a panel with fellow acafan Camille Bacon-Smith, moderated by Shoshanna, to discuss, among other things, queer issues in fandom. [3]

During Escapade 1993, Jenkins appeared on a panel with Constance Penley, Shoshanna, and Meg G called "Academia and our Culture." [4] He is a regular Escapade attendee.

During the FanLib brouhaha, the CEO of fanlib.com, Chris Williams, chose Jenkin's blog [5] to respond to questions and criticisms about the site. The choice of Jenkins as a representative or authority figure of media fandom was criticised at the time [6], and persuaded some fen of the need to create Organization for Transformative Works.

In the summer of 2007, Jenkins hosted an academic debate on "Gender and Fan Culture"[7], which was mirrored on LJ at fandebate.

See Confessions of an Acafan for Jenkin's current going's on.

[really, really need some more current info here]

The Mainstream Press' Go-To Guy

Jenkins was the person many journalists in the mid-1990s/early 2000s went to for quotes about fandom.

In 2002, one fan commented wryly about a Jenkins quote in an article: "And of course it won't surprise you to find Mr Rent A Quote himself Henry Jenkins in there. I'd love to know how much lecturing he gets to do in between his media appearances!" [8]

In 2002, another fan referred to the professor's ubiquitous presence as a quotable commentator: "OK, now the Aussies are getting in on the act. And they still manage to track down Henry Jenkins for a quote. The day man lands on Mars, the good Dr J will be there with a quote for the bemused Martians, no doubt!" [9]

In 2008, Jenkins commented about the mainstream attention he received after the publication of Textual Poachers, and noted the difference in reporters' attitudes sixteen years later:
Another factor must be acknowledged here—a similar pattern among reporters. When all of this began, I was being interviewed by reporters who were unfamiliar and often openly hostile to fandom. Now, most of the reporters who interview me for fan-related stories are themselves fans or have had some casual engagement with fandom. There are still negative stories being written, but by and large, there are really supportive stories emerging as fan academics are interviewed by fan journalists, thus providing a context for the other kinds of fans they are talking with for these stories. And as the media coverage shifts, as more people going through school are exposed to fan culture in their classes, and as the Internet makes fandom more visible, then fans are gaining much greater acceptance from friends and families. [10]

Textual Poachers

One of the books Jenkins is most known for is 1992's Textual Poachers. It features chapters about fanac like fanfic, fan art, vidding, and filk.

Though being pre-internet and somewhat outdated now in its focus on old-skool slash fandom, it remains a sympathetic and insightful book about media fans and our creative community.

One of the most common criticisms of Textual Poachers is that it characterises fans as straight white college-educated women and draws conclusions about their motivations from this characterisation, something that actually excludes a large percentage of fen.

For more, see Textual Poachers.

Notable Works

  • Textual poachers: Television fans and participatory culture. New York: Routledge. 1992.
  • Foreword to Interacting with "Babylon 5": Fan performances in a media universe, by Kurt Lancaster. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. 2001.
  • Convergence culture. New York: New York Univ. Press. 2006
  • Fans, bloggers, and gamers. New York: New York Univ. Press. 2006

A Sample of Meta and Press That Quotes or Mentions Jenkins


  1. In TV's Dull Summer Days, Plots Take Wing on the Net by Amy Harmon, New York Times, August 18, 1997;WebCite (accessed April 29, 2013).
  2. "Golden Idol" (22 pages), excerpted with his comments here
  3. Henry Jenkins and Camille Bacon-Smith at Gaylaxicon 1992 (Part One), [Part Two, TBA]
  4. Transcript of Academia and Our Culture, Part 1, Part. 2, 6 February 1993
  5. Chris Williams Responds to Our Questions about FanLib 25th of May, 2007 (Accessed 8th of November, 2008)
  6. bethbethbeth: Henry Jenkins and FanLib 22nd of May, 2007, (Accessed 8th of November, 2008)'
  7. When Fan Girls and Fan Boys Meet (Accessed 8th of November, 2008)
  8. Comment in DIAL #23 about the 2002 Sunday Times article When Hamlet met the A-Team
  9. from DIAL #24
  10. from Transformative Works and Cultures Interview with Henry Jenkins
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