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Constructing ritual space for displaced teen voices: A study of power and pedagogy using theater and interactive television with adolescent young women

Janet Lynne Mittman, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study reports on a research project that examines teenage young women's themes of power. The themes emerged within a community education program that was conducted in a small, low-income, semi-rural town in Western Massachusetts. The teenagers engaged in theater games and improvisations that were eventually performed live on public-access television. The research also looks at power relations imbedded within the project itself. The program was designed to create an educational experience that provided teenagers with a public voice about their own concerns and issues, and to do so in a way that addressed feminist and postmodern critiques of "liberatory" pedagogy. The study seeks to understand what teenage young women express about self-efficacy and power in relation to themselves, their schools, families, and communities; and an analysis of how the project encouraged or discouraged this expression, particularly in regard to my attempts at utilizing a postmodern feminist perspective in its design. It is framed within a feminist approach to research and incorporates several methodologies to explore these questions. Three definitions of power are indicated by the teen women: Power as control over oneself, others, and events; power as speaking for oneself, being heard, and being understood; and power as intuitive, creative and spiritual experience. The study provides an examination of these themes and a deconstructive analysis of the pedagogy. A primary finding of the study suggests that a special time and place is needed by teen women as a means of finding empowered voices. This "ritual space", is a safe place for honest expression, outside of the space and time norms of an adult secular world.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Womens studies|Mass media|Theater|Academic guidance counseling|Educational software

Recommended Citation

Mittman, Janet Lynne, "Constructing ritual space for displaced teen voices: A study of power and pedagogy using theater and interactive television with adolescent young women" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909190.