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Developing a dialogic practice of storytelling with adolescents: encounter in the space of story

Heinemeyer, Catherine (2017) Developing a dialogic practice of storytelling with adolescents: encounter in the space of story. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

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Abstract

Oral storytelling has been widely employed with adolescents, often applied to educational, therapeutic or other purposes. The unique contribution of this research is to articulate what storytelling can offer this age group as an open-ended participatory artistic practice, informed by an understanding of the anatomy of narrative knowledge, or ‘storyknowing’. Long-term, reflective Practice as Research (PaR) in educational, mental health, youth theatre and youth work settings has provided me with a powerful methodology to shape storytelling practice around adolescents, and simultaneously to theorise and disseminate this practice.

I contend that storytelling practice with adolescents has evolved through different ‘chronotopes’. I both identify, and develop further, an emergent dialogic chronotope which enables dialogue between traditional repertoire and reality, enchantment and empowerment, and storyteller and young people. Such dialogue, conducted through narrative, is responsive to adolescents’ interests without intruding upon their personal challenges.

Using my practice as both evidence and methodology, this exegesis explores the complex dynamics of the intersubjective space ‘between’ storyteller and adolescent participants, the demands this makes on the storyteller, and the different roles played by story in facilitating this encounter. In particular I find the sparse and otherworldly nature of myth and folktale to make a strong invitation, or even provocation, to young people to enter into collaborative creative processes. I depart from Bakhtin’s (1981) view of epic to describe how adolescents both ‘knock down’ and ‘raise up’ these stories, to articulate their own perspectives and dignify their life experiences.

I consider the extent to which my practice has established dialogic fora (Delanty 2007) contributing to the regeneration of youth institutions, and ‘resingularising’ (Guattari 1995) roles and relationships within them. Given the relatively rigid institutional structures and cultural constructions surrounding contemporary adolescents, I propose that dialogic storytelling entails a conscious orientation to open-endedness, intersubjective meaning-making and singularity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: This exegesis accompanies my online portfolio, http://storyknowingwithadolescentssubmission.weebly.com/
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
School/Department: School of Performance & Media Production
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2323

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