Questions inspired by Henry Jenkins and Dr Kathleen Yancey

“Corporate convergence coexists with grassroots convergence…The promises of this new media environment raise expectations of a freer flow of ideas and content. Inspired by those ideals, consumers are fighting for the right to participate more fully in their culture. Sometimes, corporate and grassroots convergence reinforce each other, creating closer, more rewarding relations between media producers and consumers. Sometimes, these two forces are at war and those struggles will redefine the face pf American popular culture” (17).

In his introductory article to Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins posits that the 21st century is in the midst of a cultural change that has to do with changes in the way media content is distributed across platforms, and how that changes the power dynamics from a top-down flow to top-down and down-up oscillation. This process of media distribution and power Jenkins calls convergence.

Dr Yancey’s responses to Jenkins led me to offer some questions, which appear below.

In response to Jenkins, Yancey argued that the up/down-down/up new media influences not as fluid as Jenkins would have us imagine. In fact, audience participation fails to be powerful in sustained ways. She offered Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as an example. Once he was elected, his administration allegedly showed less vigorous social media interest, suggesting less interest in hearing and attending to the political voices of the people. Furthermore, institutions with cultural power make flaccid gestures toward engaging with a jaded public, or, in the case of the MLA, fielding people’s concerns only if they enroll in the organization.

Dr Yancey challenged us to find an example of when media held a power “hostage,” like in the case of Princess Diana’s death by the alleged hounding of the paparazzi.

Would Arab Spring count as an event in which social media in real time had a major contribution to political consequences?
Moving to the issue of changing media infrastructure and knowledge distribution in the academy, Dr Yancey used the analogy of the “interlanguage” to suggest a viable connection between the social media platforms and protocols of the populace and the platforms and protocols of the humanists in academia.

Can we continue to expose the urgency of the need for an interlanguage in more logistical ways, and specifically pertaining to the FSU Humanities network?


Finally, when discussing the promotion of digital expertise in students, Yancey invited people to consider the “fake it till you make it” analogy, wherein actual practice with new media technology would foster a deeper understanding of new media’s roles in the Humanities.

Are there ways to foster more faculty-student digital projects in the English Department wherein the student can gather digital experience/skills on site, even if they have little preexisting digital experience?


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