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My Life in the Deaf and Hearing Worlds

John B. Christiansen

Publication Year: 2010

Hard of hearing since early childhood, John Christiansen spent the first 30 years of his life trying to fit into a hearing world that did little to accommodate his communication needs. Although he excelled in academics, Christiansen found social situations stressful at every level, until he obtained a position as a professor of sociology at Gallaudet University. There he learned sign language and joined a new community. Reflections: My Life in the Deaf and Hearing Worlds grew out of his personal experiences inhabiting these two worlds. As a sociologist, Christiansen could identify the toll that trying to communicate with hearing people took on his psyche, the classic looking-glass self in action: I am what I think you think I am. He saw that people with hearing loss frequently blame themselves for social awkwardness and gaffs, even thought the responsibility for clear communication should be shared. Still, after living in the hearing world for most of his life, he opted to undergo a cochlear implantation to try to improve interaction with his hearing friends, wife, and children. His description of adjusting to his cochlear implant brings fresh reality to the implant process. As he puts it, he was not a superstar. After ten years, though, he feels positive enough about his experience to endorse it. As a denouement to his affecting memoir, he describes the disruptive 2006 protest at Gallaudet over the choice of a new president, from his vantage point as a member of the search committee. Reflections stands as a remarkable account of one person’s navigation through the intricacies of two different and occasionally opposing worlds.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. viii

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pp. ix-xi

This book grew out of my personal experiences as an academic sociologist and as a lifelong hard of hearing and deaf person. I have spent more than thirty years as a card-carrying member of the former and more than sixty years as part of the latter (sans membership card but, I assume, in good standing in the eyes of whoever is ...

Part I.

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Baseball, Toothbrush, Hot Dog, Airplane: Life as a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Person

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pp. 3-88

Many readers will recognize the words baseball, toothbrush, hot dog, and airplane. Audiologists, listening therapists, and others typically use these and other two-syllable words to determine speech reception threshold, which is the softest or faintest level of speech that someone can hear and consistently understand. Because I have undergone ...

Part II.

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My Experiences as a Cochlear Implant User

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pp. 91-172

In the late 1990s, I began paying more attention to the growing popularity of cochlear implants. I was looking for something interesting to write about, and since cochlear implantation was (and still is) a controversial topic in the Deaf community, I thought that others might be curious about how this relatively new technology worked and ...

Part III.

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pp. 172-174

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The 2006 Protest at Gallaudet University

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pp. 175-218

ON MAY 1, 2006, the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees announced that Jane K. Fernandes, the university’s provost, had been chosen as the ninth president of the university. Dr. Fernandes’s appointment was not popular among a large segment of the Gallaudet community (or among many people in the larger Deaf community). Her ...

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pp. 219-222

On Tuesday afternoon, January 12, 2010, Arlene and I became grandparents for the first time. Our son Erik and his wife Shanna gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in a modern, well-equipped hospital not far from their home in Rhode Island, where they are both college professors. Like many of the thousands of babies who were born in the ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 223-226

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pp. 227-230

I am indebted to many people who have offered their support, insights, expertise, and constructive criticisms at many stages during the course of this project. First and foremost, my wife Arlene read the entire manuscript, offered countless suggestions and clarifications, and encouraged me to keep writing even when I often wondered if my experiences ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781563684784
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563684777

Page Count: 242
Illustrations: 13 photos, 4 illustrations
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794698827
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Reflections

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Subject Headings

  • College teachers -- United States -- Biography
  • Cochlear implants -- United States.
  • Deaf -- United States -- Biography.
  • Christiansen, John B.
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