How Do You Like It So Far uses pop culture to take soundings of a society in transition, exploring intersections with civic imagination and engagement, and social and political change. Henry Jenkins and Colin Maclay are your guides on this adventure.

Episode 55: Civic Imagination with Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova

Welcome to another week, How Do You Like it So Far? fans!  We have a very special episode in store for you all.  This week, Henry is on the other side of the … well it’s not the microphone hm, the … recording booth, table … well you get the point.  This week, Colin interviews Henry about his work surrounding civic imagination! They are joined by their esteemed colleague Dr. Sangita Shresthova, the Director of Research of the Civic Paths Group at USC and an integral part of the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s Civic Media Fellowship.  They discuss their upcoming books Popular Culture in the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Social Change and Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook, both edited by Gabriel Peters-Lazaro.  They dissect the components of civic imagination and how it can help us as people imagine a better world and a process of change.  Their work surrounding civic imagination has led them to ask questions such as, “How do we change our civic spaces with the possibility of a future?”  Sangita and Henry host workshops where they encourage participants to imagine the ideal world of 2060 or remix inspirational stories as a means of provoking discussions about shared aspirations and civic norms.  These workshops are crucial in how people reflect similarities and differences in how they envision the future.  They also look to understand how media change is tied to political advocacy worldwide and how young people have taken advantage of technological changes within media to promote social change.  Listen in as Henry and Sangita discuss their work in starting with the visions of the future, could see possibilities between us and help solve problems.  They even discuss what people envisioned in 2016 and how identifying those paradoxes and tensions in the field might be usable for activists and storytellers to incite change.

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

What is Civic Imagination?

Politics struggle over resources → points towards government at its center

MacArthur Foundation

Harry Potter Alliance
Henry’s piece on the Harry Potter Alliance

Making social change by any media necessary, Henry and Sangita’s Book

Using a whole range of media to make social change

Emma Gonzalez’s jacket → camera read the patches during her moment of silence

Workshops mentioned in the podcast:
Origin Stories
Infinite Hope
Step into the Looking Glass
Monuments from the Future
Remixing Stories

Syrian refugees – making it to Europe and dying along the way

Salzberg Academy – Media and Global Change 

Les Mis, anthem for HK student movement

Episode 54: From Barbie to Ice Skates: Gendered Objects with Erica Rand

Welcome back How Do You Like it So Far? crew!  This week, Henry and Colin are joined by Erica Rand, professor of Art and Visual Culture and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Bates College.  She is author of: Barbie’s Queer Accessories, a study of the doll’s history and manufacture in relation to corporate and consumer meaning-making, The Ellis Island Snow Globe, a queer, anti-racist alternative tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Red Nails Black Skates, a collection of short essays grounded in participant-observation research in adult figure skating and the upcoming The Small Book of Hip Checks on Queer Gender, Race and Writing.  Rand’s work spans the breadth of sexuality and material culture in today’s world.  In this episode, Rand talks about the Creatable World dolls from Mattel, a child-shaped doll that comes with short hair and a wig, and clothes that suggest male or female, or neither.  She discusses their characteristics and complaints that the company is exploiting gender for capitalistic purposes. Rand posits that gender is turned into a commodity and dolls make that distinction more apparent.  Colin, Henry and Rand dive deep into a variety of gender fluid characters in books and their reflections on their importance. Rand has taken her work in many directions, including into the world of figure skating! Listen in as Rand reveals her decision to start figure skating in her 40’s and examines the gender of skates and skating tights. 

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Creatable World Dolls by Mattel – Child shaped doll

Complaints over the doll:
Mattel mining gender for capitalist purposes

The latest wave of diversity in Barbie

MaryAnn Saunders – University of British Columbia 

DJ Corchin’s Do You Speak Fish? 

Toys are helpful in discussing the gender spectrum

Gender turned into a commodity → Dolls make that more apparent

History of Dollsteach young girls how to accept roles in femininity 

Rand’s book at Walmart

Mary Gray’s Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America

MaineCare – state sponsored health care

Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase Series – Has gender fluid character, Alex Fierro

Lisa Bunker’s Zenobia July – a book about a trans middle school girl who lives in Portland, Maine

Jezebel’s The Sad, Strange Story of Ken Doll’s Crotch

Aramark services prisons

Figure Skating – Gender of skates and skating tights

Stick It – Gymnastics Movie

Debi Thomas – First African-American person to medal in Olympics

Serena Williams criticized for not being sufficiently female

Pose and Paris in Burning – Examples of New York Ball Culture

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie – Documentary about Barbie on Hulu 

Judge Barbie 

Frida Kahlo Barbie

NY Times article – After All These Years, Barbie Is Still Reinventing Herself

Organization of toy storesproducts divided along gender lines

Legos for Girls

Barbie Liberation Organization

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!

Episode 53: Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud

Here’s to another week and another episode How Do You Like it So Far? Fans!  We have got a very special guest for you this week – Scott McCloud, the author of Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics.  He met Henry at MIT ages ago and they have been friends ever since!  Join Colin and Henry as they discuss comic book fundamentals with McCloud such as “what are comics?” and the difference between graphic novels and comic books.  They also dive deep into the history of comics with McCloud (did you know that comics are hundreds of years old?!), the difference and confluence of American, Japanese and European comic styles, how the digital revolution is changing the comic book landscape.  McCloud reveals how the American comic scene had roots in vaudeville. Artists such as Winsor McCay would incorporate a theatrical element and draw comic panels on stage where each panel was like a “theater box.” Listen in as McCloud explains how comics take advantage of the composition of memory and how contemporary comics are experimenting with diverse styles and increasingly welcome to women and artists of color.  McCloud also predicts that soon female readership will reach critical point! Also, looking for comic book recommendations? Take a look in our show notes for some of the comics and cartoonists mentioned in this episode!

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

History of Comics:
Bayeux Tapestry as Comic?
Modern Comics – Started around 1890 or 1900
Goes back 500 years – European broadsheets had word balloons
Notre Dame – Is the Stations of the Cross a Comic?

Top Selling comics:
Diamond vs. New York Times Graphic Novels List 
Franco-Belgian Comics
David B

Past, present and future are all present in comics – Richard McGuire’s Here

Asterios Polyp

Cartoonists mentioned in this podcast:
Vera Brosgal
Will EisnerComics and Sequential Arts 
Comics Used for Military Training
Theatricality + Expressive Anatomy – Will Eisner, contract with god
Jack KirbySplash Pages 
Harvey KurtzmanLittle Annie Fannie
Art SpiegelmanRaw
James Sturm
Raina TelgemeierGuts 
Bill WattersonCalvin and Hobbes
Comics are a curious form
Jen Wang
Chris WareBuilding Stories

Comics mentioned in this podcast:
Jerry Craft’s New Kid (Won Newbery Medal)
Family Circus (Single panel cartoons)
Richard Outcault’s Yellow Kid
Joe Sacco’s The Great War 
Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra
Herge’s TinTin Series
Comics from India that are stitched on tapestry
Alan Moore’s Watchmen
Underground Comics movement
Women in the underground comics movement
Manga for girls
YA Comics

Flowers for Algernon

Juxtaposition of McCay and Outcault:

Credit: Public Domain
Credit: Public Domain

Graphic Novels mentioned in this podcast: 
Watchmen showing up consistently on lists (graphic novel and books)

Henry’s book Comics and Stuff

Difference between graphic novels and comics

Biggest box office success in films have been superhero films

Early comic strips – Winsor McCayRole in vaudeville and early film

American comic scene had roots in vaudeville

Mosaic – first graphical web browser

Digital revolution and how it changed comics

McCloud made a print graphic novel that was an e-book

Infinite canvas

Disco Beat – rhythm of turning a page

Rise of female readers will reach critical point

Visual Literacy

Fort Thunder – Cartoonist collective in Providence, RI

Silver age of comics → superheroes

DelSarte Method

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!