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From Imaginary Friends to YouTube: narrative and performance in childhood and youth

Flewitt, Rosie and Maybin, Janet (2015) From Imaginary Friends to YouTube: narrative and performance in childhood and youth. In: Creativity in Narrative and Performance. Open University Press. (Submitted)

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From very early childhood oral, written and enacted stories weave through all our lives and form part of how we come to understand the social and cultural worlds we experience. In this chapter we reflect on young people’s telling and enactment of stories, focussing on the significance of their narrative activity and the creativity it entails. In particular, we ask: -why is narrative so pervasive in young people’s lives? -what role do narratives play in their intellectual, emotional and social development? -how do young people creatively combine words, images and other semiotic modes in their narrative texts and performances? We start by looking at some examples of children’s earliest imaginative language activity. The chapter then follows an approximately chronological development and reflects on the potential value of young people’s narrative language and creativity (using the term ‘young people’ to encompass all ages up to around 20 years and ‘children’ where there is a focus on a younger age group). Throughout, we emphasise young people’s agency within their own development and socialisation, and the ways in which they actively seek to understand the world, other people and themselves. Young people are deeply influenced by their environment and by adult ways of being, and their creative, inventive and sometimes rebellious communication practices reflect how they are forming identities and positioning themselves in the multiple and changing interpersonal, social and cultural contexts they encounter. We define ‘narrative’ as involving a scenario, actor(s) with goals and intentions and a series of sequential events. Stories are always related from a particular perspective, and stem from some interest or concern in the narrator’s life. In narrative play and interaction there is also an important element of performance where language is combined with other modes, and we suggest how this multimodal activity can be understood and analysed. We take what might be termed a social practices approach to young people’s creativity, and view creativity as collaborative, emerging out of and contingent on everyday activity – it is socially and culturally situated rather than ‘a solo process or event’ (Craft, 2010, p20). As well as some degree of personal originality and invention, children’s language creativity often involves remaking and recycling. We suggest that recontextualisation and reconfiguration of existing material is also creative involving some novel element within language, or in the way in which it is used, which prompts a fresh view of the world.

Item Type: Book Section
Controlled Keywords: narrative, creativity, performance, childhood, youth, Learning, Arts and Humanities(all)
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2014 14:02
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:57
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