Henry Jenkins: Textual Poachers

The Industrial Revolution resulted in the privatization of culture and the emergence of a concept of intellectual property that assumes that cultural value originates from the original contributions of individual authors. In practice, of course, any act of cultural creation builds on what has come before, borrowing genre conventions and cultural archetypes, if nothing else. The ability of corporations to control their “intellectual property” has had a devastating impact upon the production and circulation of cultural materials, meaning that the general population has come to see themselves primarily as consumers of — rather than participants within — their culture. The mass production of culture has largely displaced the old folk culture… Fans respond to this situation of an increasingly privatized culture by applying the traditional practices of a folk culture to mass culture, treating film or television as if it offered them raw materials for telling their own stories and resources for forging their own communities. Just as the American folk songs of the nineteenth century were often related to issues of work, the American folk culture of the twentieth century speaks to issues of leisure and consumption… Fan fiction repairs some of the damage caused by the privatization of culture,.. Fans reject the idea of a definitive version produced, authorized, and regulated by some media conglomerate. Instead, fans envision a world where all of us can participate in the creation and circulation of central cultural myths… If Star Wars was an important ur-text for the new corporate strategy of media convergence, Star Wars has also been the focal point of an enormous quantity of grassroots media production, becoming the very embodiment of the new participatory culture.

— Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers

Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (1992) is a classic study of fandom by Henry Jenkins.

The term `textual poaching` was coined by Michel de Certeau in been The Practice of Everyday Life (1984)


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