Absent audiences: Youth identity formation in preparations for performance

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This article explores the use of audiences in preparation for public presentation by an urban youth organization in Camden, New Jersey (U.S.). Camden is an impoverished city with few opportunities for youth. The organization, a hybrid of youth development, technology, business, and college preparation, prepared youth for good jobs or college. Public presentations were a main participation structure. In preparing for them, youth used the imagined responses of audiences as a way of developing their work. They also used the real responses of previous audiences as they considered how best to represent their work and themselves. Absent audiences were deeply connected to their thought processes for their presentations in radio shows, to Web design clients, and to audiences for digital storytelling festivals. These audiences also influenced the ways in which the youth constructed their own identities, moving from the categories of victim or urban youth to expert.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-40
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Language, Identity and Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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