Reading through a piece by Lynn Spigel in Television & New Media, I found myself thinking about my “influences”. The thinkers who I find guiding my thoughts, whose ideas I find tend to be closest to my own, or who make me see things in a new and exciting light.
First and foremost, I would have to namecheck Henry Jenkins. As with all my thoughts in this area, I came to his work late, Convergence Culture being the first writing of his that I found. However, having read that, and been astounded, I have since hunted out many more of his writings, including the seminal Textual Poachers. Convergence Culture just blew me away, showing me that there could be valid scholarship surrounding the elements of my fandom. This was also one of the first books I read which priveleged the industrial nature of television and media – thinking about the commercial juggernaut that is American Idol, for instance. Whilst not everything that appears on his blog relates to my work directly, I constantly find that I am challenged by everything he posts, and frequently I end up with new ways of thinking about my ideas.
Jason Mittell would also rate a very high mention. I have to admit that I was first introduced to his work when I was asked to tutor (TA) on a Television Studies course (which possibly points to the fact that I was underqualified to assist on the course – but I muddled through). His work on Narrative Complexity really struck a chord with me (and not just because he name-checked Joss Whedon, although that always wins friends with me). However, it was when I started reading his blog that I really started to build a great admiration for his work. Again, I am constantly finding posts that challenge me, that force me to think about things in new ways, or that reinforce ideas that I was developing, and help me to extend them.
There are, of course, many other theorists who deserve to be mentioned – John Ellis, Lynn Spigel, Toby Miller, Will Brooker, Roger Silverstone, David Lavery, Raymond Williams amongst many others – the people without whom no decent review of Television Studies would be complete.
I am currently trying to frame a literature review – to focus my ideas enough to form a complete search of a particular area, and that in itself should be the centre of its own post, but the process also made me think about these names, which have become their very own canon, the base of knowledge from which I am leading off.
I’m sure if I were to do this in a year, in a couple of years, there would be a reasonably different set of names here. But I have a strong suspicion that Henry Jenkins and Jason Mittell would still be near the top of the list.