Jonathan Delafield‐Butt

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Edinburgh &
University of Copenhagen

The co-creation of joy and shared meaning through embodied narrative engagements

Affect and interest are made manifest in the movements of the limbs and body from well before birth, indicating an innate sensorimotor intentionality present within the activities of the foetus.  After birth, making connection through movements of the voice and body with others becomes critical for health and development, and a motive force exists that drives one to engage with and to come to understand another.  These early communicative engagements can form narrative patterns where the initial exchange is built upon through cycles of expression in turn-taking and rhythm.  The energy in expression and intensity between the partners typically increases to give a climactic moment of shared joy, before receding again to quiescence. We propose these early narrative patterns establish cultures of expectation with regular patterns of arousal, affect, and interest.  Using examples from mother-infant engagements and engagements with non-verbal autistic children, I will demonstrate how affective sensorimotor attunement is necessary for making connection in shared narratives, and that by this connection self-regulation and further development become more possible.