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Performing Bodies: Narrative, Representation, and Children's Storytelling

By Kerry Mallan


Children appear to know the importance of storytelling as if by instinct. From a very early age their play takes the form of story; sometimes they term their story play 'pretend.' ...

They delight in using what comes to hand; they are small bricoleurs who make barbecues or bowls out of sticks of wood, or who fashion snowballs that make noise and need to be hushed, or who build tents or caves with a blanket...

Mallan's book is an important contribution to our understanding of how story works and of how storytelling functions as a social, political, and educative activity.

Professor Roderick McGillis
University of Calgary, Canada excellent thesis, written with critical aplomb and insight...

Professor Richard Andrews
Middlesex University

Mallan manages to work through difficult theory, methodology and text analysis in ways that are sophisticated, conceptually elegant, and above all, original.

Associate Professor Nola Alloway
James Cook University

Table of Contents

List of figures


Part One Beginnings: Storytelling, Narrative, and Play


Chapter One: Story - Schooling and Performance

  • A series of personal beginnings
  • Story(telling) and schooling
  • Narrative knowledge
  • Storytelling as performance
  • The present study

Chapter Two: Storytelling as Cultural Practice

  • Introduction
  • Historical origins and social significance of Storytelling
  • Storytelling as 'powerful' social practice
  • Storytelling and children's play
  • Summary


Part Two (Re)casting the Players - Rehearsing the Theory


Chapter Three: Discourses Framing Research on Children's Storytelling

  • Introduction
  • Storytelling as a feature of progressive pedagogies
  • Storytelling as narrative knowledge
  • Storytelling as a communicative act
  • Storytelling as discursive practice
  • Discursive shifts in the research: An overview
  • Conclusion

Chapter Four: Ways of Reading the Performing Body

  • Introduction
  • Postpositivist research
  • The limits of structuralism
  • Poststructuralist theories: Making discourses visible
  • Subjectivity and identity
  • Feminisms and the social construction of gender
  • The politics of narrative
  • The body at play: Bakhtin and carnival
  • Foucault, bodies and power
  • Towards a methodology for reading the performing body
  • Summary

Chapter Five: The Study

  • Introduction
  • Researcher as reteller of tales
  • Phases of the research process
  • The setting: Impressionist tales
  • The tellers, commentators and critics
  • Research methods
  • Assembling the collages


Part Three Romance, Adventure, and Carnivalesque Tales


Chapter Six: Picture Stories

  • Introduction
  • A workshop vignette
  • Patterns of cultural representation
  • Tales of love and marriage
  • Tales of adventure
  • Summary

Chapter Seven: Familial Tales

  • Introduction
  • A workshop vignette
  • Not by words alone: (Re)membering the body and voicing desire
  • Intermezzo
  • Storyplay as carnival
  • Concluding comments

Chapter Eight: Body Politics

  • Introduction
  • The politics of voice and gesture
  • A storytelling habitus/ethos
  • Humour as a political ploy in gestural and verbal discourses
  • The politics of the gaze(In)conclusion


Part Four: Happily Ever After?


Chapter Nine: Re/framing the Performing Body

  • Introduction
  • Framing the performative
  • Student bodies as sites/sights of resistance and compliance
  • Telling signs on the researcher's body
  • Shifting contexts

Chapter Ten: New Tales for New Times

  • Multiple knowledges
  • New tales for new times: Beyond mainstream identities

Appendix A - Series Told in Two Workshops

  • A1: The diamond of the heart
  • A2: The Snooks family

Appendix B - Letters Seeking Consent

  • B1: Letter to Principal
  • B2: Letter to parents seeking consent to videotape workshops
  • B3: Letter to parents seeking consent to audiotape interviews

Appendix C - Overview of Workshops
Appendix D - Sample Page from Field Journal
Appendix E - Mapping of a Storyplay
Appendix F - Pictures Used in Children's Stories

References - References and Select Bibliography

Performing Bodies: Narrative, Representation, and Children

Published: 2003
Pages: xiv+314
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