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Theses Doctoral

With an Eye to its Movement': Revitalizing Literature through Remix and Performance

Ashley, Adele Bruni

This narrative inquiry documents the inaugural Performance at the Center summer institute, a professional development program in which teachers worked alongside students to generate an original multimodal performance piece inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Specifically, the study examines text-inspired creation: how readers identify and then create out of the gaps and spaces in a given text through remix and performance. This researcher employs qualitative methods to address the following questions: (1) How do Performance at the Center facilitators set up the conditions for text-inspired creation? (2) How do teacher and student players describe what effect, if any, Performance at the Center has on their reading of Frankenstein? and (3) How do select teacher players describe what effect, if any, Performance at the Center has had on their design and implementation of curriculum? Examining her data through the lens of “the gift” (Marcel Mauss and Lewis Hyde), this researcher finds that facilitators set up the conditions for text-inspired creation by stepping into the role of muse—offering both tangible and intangible “gifts” to prompt production. Teachers and students describe the ways in which Performance at the Center invites sensory entry into Shelley’s text, enabling readers to compose meanings potentially inaccessible through words alone. Select teachers describe the ways in which Performance at the Center catalyzes a reconceptualization of what it means to teach literature, underscoring as it does the profound distinction between dissecting a text and experiencing a text. This investigation suggests that positioning the study of literature within a gift culture—receiving literature as a living gift to be passed on through student text-inspired creation—has the potential revitalize texts, teachers and the classroom itself.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Vinz, Ruth
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 21, 2016
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