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Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  496 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"Get a life" William Shatner told Star Trek fans. Yet, as Textual Poachers argues, fans already have a "life," a complex subculture which draws its resources from commercial culture while also reworking them to serve alternative interests. Rejecting stereotypes of fans as cultural dupes, social misfits, and mindless consumers, Jenkins represents media fans as active ...more
Paperback, 343 pages
Published July 21st 1992 by Routledge
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 ·  496 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: acafans, cultural/media studies folk, slashers, people who really like de Certeau
Shelves: media
I loved this book and am currently fangirling Henry Jenkins. Which is something I would like to discuss with him, because a) he wouldn't mock me and b) we could have an interesting conversation that engaged cultural studies without making me stabby. Also, I would like the Jenkinses to invite me over to watch Blakes7.

But, in all seriousness, Jenkins does an excellent job sussing out an ethnography of fan culture in a way that is both respectful and critical, that recognizes that it is playful,
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
A review of fan culture, including writers, vidders, and filkers. This is great just as sociological snapshots and a repository of many of the classically understood theories of fandom and how it operates. It's rather uncomfortably outdated, though, appearing before the internet became a fannish locus. I'm also pretty unhappy with the ways Jenkins fails to push this "poaching" model -- he's a media studies guy, and he never once questions the models
of commercial ownership and audience
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I've been familiar with Jenkins' work for years, but this is the first time that I have actually sat down and read one of his books in its entirety. I decided to start with Textual Poachers because if you dig deep enough in the citations of any paper in the field of fan studies, you will find this text.

Honestly, I'm kind of glad that I waited to read this book. Textual Poachers was published when internet fandom was in its very early years, so the text primarily concerns the fanzine era of media
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: acquired

Okay so many great things about this book.

1. It's a very good snapshot of fandom in the late 80s - the range of fandoms, types of fans, and most importantly the method of analysis were sound

2. the chapter on Beauty and the Beast fans was particularly interesting because it was the closest to non-fandom fans, in that the viewing practices could have occurred in other situations without necessarily being a 'fandom' thing - without the products of fannish activity, as such. Especially since
I should have read this book 20ish years ago, back when I was slightly defensive (based on the mockery and cultural condemnation) about being a science fiction fan. Back in the day, it would have been revelatory and affirming. A professor, taking fandom seriously! Taking fans seriously! Who went to cons and listened to filk and read fan fiction! And talks about fandom in terms of Bakhtin, Barthes, and Benjamin!

There’s still a lot of good in the text. Great exploration of how different fan
Roxana Chirilă
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the big and important books on fans and fandom, containing things such as a study in "Beauty and the Beast", fan songs, and the everlasting and ever-asked question: "Why do women write homosexual love stories?"
Fans: both good and bad! Reading this made me reflect a lot on my adolescence in the early 00s. I spent a lot of time reading fanfic. My opinions on gender expression, romance, and sexuality were definitely influenced by fanfic. Fan culture has forced the issue on a number of topics, particularly LGBTQ representation. I also think a lot has changed since the original publication of this book, and since this 2012 edition.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic analysis of media fandom. I especially enjoyed reading about the different aspects of fan production in the pre-internet days, e.g. photocopy zines, filk and VHS fanvidding techniques.

The chapter on gender is a little old-fashioned — for example, Jenkins describes all female-assigned slash writers/vidders as women, and seems unaware that huge amounts of slash fans are transmasculine. It would be interesting to see that topic examined in future publications.

Katherine Sas
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Despite not being familiar with or particularly interested in any of the fandoms/shows/texts used as the primary examples (which is my problem, not the fault of the author), I found this an engaging, thought-provoking, and well-argued overview of the various practices and tropes of fan culture.
Rachael Vaughn
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Classic tome on fannish history
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the books by an author that was one of the Pioneers into Fan studies, its a must have for anyone who is interested in the field.
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think it's fairly to safe to say, some twenty years later, that Jenkins' book has become a landmark in fan culture studies. Essentially, he argues that, contrary to popular media theory at the time, television fans are not mindless consumers, but people quite willing to appropriate and be critical of the shows they view, as well as imbue them with their own cultural meanings. Throughout the course of the book, Jenkins looks at the basic state of fan study and community; characteristics of ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved coming across a line about 'on the wall of my office hangs a print by fan artist Jean Kluge' only to realize that on my bedroom wall hangs a print by fan artist Jean Kluge'. I love connections to things I read. As a fan fiction reader, I found fandom in 1995 and became a beta reader for a very prolific writer plus a few others over time. I collected stories, I traded tapes, I went to cons, I joined egroups and I exchanged emails with hordes of women. Texual Poachers was the very first ...more
Sarah Sammis
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
In the middle of my Patron 2.0 research I came across Fans, Bloggers, and Games: Media Consumers in a Digital Age by Henry Jenkins (review coming). Knowing his books from my previous life as a film theory student, I added the book to my research pile. As that book is in some regards a sequel to Textual Poachers, I also checked it out to compare texts.

Textual Poachers is an examination of fandom, or the fen as they sometimes call themselves. As this one was written in the days before blogs, it
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fandom, non-fiction
I first read this book several years ago, and picked it up again because of the 20th anniversary re-release. It remains a spectacular piece of reading, a groundbreaking exploration of fans, fandom, and the relationship between media and audiences, from the perspective of a fan who is also firmly established in media studies. Eye-opening for fans and non-fans alike; sympathetic, intelligent, and readable; backed by hours of research and interviews; this book is a must-read for anyone interested ...more
Taylor Ellwood
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: magic, academia
This book is a must read for anyone interested in pop culture studies or anyone who is a fan and wants to understand the history of fan movements. The author does an excellent job of showing how different fandoms found empowerment in their communities and in their own fan creations based off the pop culture they liked. While this book was originally written in 1992, it's still relevant to contemporary pop culture studies and if anything provides a fascinating historical perspective that allows ...more
Andrew Miller
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Jenkins creates a strong case for the scholarship that can be given to fandom communities. He looks at how fans write and recreate their own texts and how these consumers also become producers. Fans are textual poachers as they go on the “land” of the writer and “poach” or take only what they want, not necessarily what the writer may have intended. These fans then get to keep their “poached” material, although this material has little economic value, it contains its own expressive culture. The ...more
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This short review is also posted on my blog at

This is the seminal foundational text in terms of academic studies of fandom. Even if it was published in 1992 before the explosion of internet fandom and a more mainstream (even if still grudging) recognition of fan practices, it is still chock full of useful and current ideas.

This well written and highly readable book has done a great service in single handedly promoting the possibility of academic fan
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I had to read an excerpt of this book for class, but found myself picking up a copy for some light reading. Unlike most communication theory books, this was easy to read and breeze through. Jenkins' writing is simple and playful, yet critical of the subject without being, for lack of a better word, douchey.

Though it is a little out of date, many of Jenkins' theories still ring true today. I found myself completely engrossed in his concepts, evolution, and hierarchies of fandom, and would love
Jan 04, 2012 rated it liked it
An important book for cultural studies and fan culture, Textual Poachers provides an excellent primer and introduction to looking at fandom and its general practices.[return][return]While the book is now rather dated in both its examples (shows mentioned are all from the 1980s and very early 90s) and some of its subjects (filk music), the book is highly engaging and accessible, even for non-media scholars are just interested in the subject, or want to learn more about their hobby.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is some literary theory book that goes way too in depth of fan fiction, actually taking it seriously. Who gives a crap about some lonely douche who writes Star Trek fiction in which Spock and Cpt. Kirk express their gay feelings for one another? Shit like that should just be ignored. Which it is for the most part if it weren't for stupid literary theory courses.
Liz Dehoff
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating 10 years ago. I would love to see Jenkins update it now that fanfic has grown so exponentially and has even spread to film, where it sometimes receives official accolades from the copyright holders themselves (see Lucasfilm's "Star Wars" fan film competitions). Dr. Jenkins, I'm waiting...
Pansity Collins
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The best of the studies of fandom which started coming out in the early 90s. Although this is Jenkins' doctoral thesis, he doesn't make the error of writing from the POV of disdain for the foreign culture he's examining -- he makes no apologies for the fact that he's a fan as well as an academic.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is very much appreciated by those of us who "walk the walk and talk the talk" each day as fans...while the book is extremely academic, I also appreciate much of the ideas and theories being conveyed.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
a re-read as first read on recommendation of Morgan G to understand this strange new world of fandom.

My husband/partner Crys' was already a long time LRPer, filk enthusiast and the like.

Recently unearthed and on bedside table for dipping into.
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was written when internet fan culture was just a nascent thing, so unlike when I first read it in the nineties, a lot the text it seems almost quaint. Still a fascinating read, though, and pretty much mandatory for anyone serious about their media fandom.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was upset I kind of had to speed through this because it was an extremely interesting look at fandom activity. Jenkins gives fandom much more deference than is usually given by academics and rightfully so I think.
Nov 10, 2010 marked it as to-read
Mys sister Susan M. Garrett is quoted a number of times throughout this book. Nice to know she helped contribute to the understanding of something she loved so much.
Paul Mclaughlan
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic, fandom
Incredible. Read this as a part of... my 1st or 2nd degree? Dunno! But it made me look at my fan friends rather differently.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For fans, a glorious exploration of fandom through an academic lens. For non-fans, a well-written and warm introduction to fandom and fannish practices. May we forever be renegade readers.
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