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The children of Chautauqua: perceptions of childhood in the circuit Chautauqua movement

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The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which childhood was perceived in the circuit Chautauqua movement. The methodology followed a threefold approach: first, to trace the

The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which childhood was perceived in the circuit Chautauqua movement. The methodology followed a threefold approach: first, to trace the development of the Chautauqua movement, thereby identifying the values and motivations which determined programming; next, to identify the major tropes of thought through which childhood has been traditionally understood; and finally, to do a performance analysis of the pageant America, Yesterday and Today to locate perceptions of childhood and to gain a better understanding of the purpose of this pageant. My principal argument is that the child's body was utilized as the pivotal tool for the ideological work that the pageant was designed to do. This ideological effort was aimed at both the participants and the audience, with the child's body serving as the site of education as well as signification. Through the physical embodiment and repetition of different roles, the children who participated performed certain values and cultural assumptions. This embodiment of values was expected to be retained and performed long after the performance was over - it was a form of training through pleasure.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Radical welcome in youth performance spaces on Chicago's south side: the child as hungry, the child as village, the child as visible

Description

My project maps assets of welcome in the built environment in youth performing arts spaces. What signifiers reveal how a physical space conceptualizes the child, reflects professed theological claims, and

My project maps assets of welcome in the built environment in youth performing arts spaces. What signifiers reveal how a physical space conceptualizes the child, reflects professed theological claims, and cues youth to practice ownership and experience belonging? I explore the cultural capital that emerges from the sites and I assert theological implications of the findings. Through mixed qualitative, quantitative, and arts-based methods, I employ asset-based and cultural mapping tools to collect data. I parse theories of space, race, and capital. Half of the ten sites are faith-based; others make room for practices that participants bring to the table. Therefore, I discuss theologies and theories about racialized, religious, public, and arts spaces. My research shows that one ethnographic task for the arts groups is unearthing and embedding neighborhood legacy. I source fifty-six written youth questionnaires, forty youth in focus groups, staff questionnaires, parent interviews, and observations across fourteen months at ten sites. Interpreting the data required that I reconceive multiple terms, including “youth dedicated,” “partnership,” and art itself. The research codes spatial, relational, economic, temporal, and comfort-level assets. Observed assets include strategies for physical safety, gender inclusivity, literary agility, entrepreneurship, advocacy, and healing. Analyzing data showed the sites as conceptualizing the child in three change-making areas: the Child as Hungry, the Child as Village, and the Child as Visible. The Child as Hungry emerged because participants self-report myriad “feeding” physically, spiritually, and artistically at each site. Youth participants at each site maintain a Village presence, and each site offers a manner of gathering space that signifies Village responsibility. Each site carves space to witness the child, contrastingly with other spheres—so much so that being a Visible Child becomes a craft itself, added alongside the fine art. Child theology is the primary theoretical lens that I use to contribute to and intersect with performance studies theory, critical race theory, child drama, and childhood studies.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018