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Deaf Subjects

Between Identities and Places

Brenda Jo Brueggemann

Publication Year: 2009

In this probing exploration of what it means to be deaf, Brenda Brueggemann goes beyond any simple notion of identity politics to explore the very nature of identity itself. Looking at a variety of cultural texts, she brings her fascination with borders and between-places to expose and enrich our understanding of how deafness embodies itself in the world, in the visual, and in language.

Taking on the creation of the modern deaf subject, Brueggemann ranges from the intersections of gender and deafness in the work of photographers Mary and Frances Allen at the turn of the last century, to the state of the field of Deaf Studies at the beginning of our new century. She explores the power and potential of American Sign Language—wedged, as she sees it, between letter-bound language and visual ways of learning—and argues for a rhetorical approach and digital future for ASL literature.

The narration of deaf lives through writing becomes a pivot around which to imagine how digital media and documentary can be used to convey deaf life stories. Finally, she expands our notion of diversity within the deaf identity itself, takes on the complex relationship between deaf and hearing people, and offers compelling illustrations of the intertwined, and sometimes knotted, nature of individual and collective identities within Deaf culture.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

First, always, I nod to Jim Fredal, who not only read drafts of every chapter but listened for long hours as my ideas took, shifted, bent, and shipped in and out of shape. My children, Karl and Esther, also patiently endured—and even sometimes claimed interest in—some of my...

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Introduction The Deaf Subject Places Herself

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pp. 1-8

The deaf subject, the subject of “deafness,” is of interest—without cease and with considerable controversy of late. Lately, the deaf subject is also anxious. She is anxious about her identity, anxious about her place, anxious too about her anxiety. Attempting to cope with her anxiety

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1 Between: A Commonplace Book for the Modern Deaf Subject

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pp. 9-24

For some time now, I have been imagining a theory of “betweenity,” especially as it exists in Deaf culture, identity, and language. And because I teach a great deal in the larger umbrella of “Disability Studies” these days, I’ve also been thinking about the expansion of that...

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2 American Sign Language and the AcademyThe Little Language That Could

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pp. 25-37

Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, American Sign Language (ASL) was barely known to the Modern Language Association (MLA), an organization of more than 300,000 members in one hundred countries whose “members have worked to strengthen the study and...

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3 Approaching American Sign Language Literature Rhetorically and Digitally

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pp. 38-71

Let me start with a bold claim: currently, one of the most significant problems we have when we try to study American Sign Language (ASL) literature is linguistics. The study of ASL has, especially in the past two decades, been all but consumed by and with linguistics, sociolinguistics...

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4 Narrating Deaf Lives Placing Deaf Autobiography ,Biography, and Documentary

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pp. 72-97

Both Jan-Kåre Breivik (Deaf Identities in the Making) and I (Lend Me Your Ear; Literacy and Deaf People) have recently suggested that deaf lives and “writing” placed together, particularly in relation to their own life stories, have not been common or even probably condoned...

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5 Deaf Eyes The Allen Sisters’ Pictorial Photography,1885–1920

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pp. 98-116

“The Misses Allen,” they were most often called—personally, by those who knew them in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and also professionally, by those critics who wrote about their photography at the time.1 And although their names do appear singly in relationship to a few of their photographs...

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6 Posting Mabel

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pp. 117-140

Dear Mabel: I confess, I have found my way to you through your husband, Alexander Graham Bell.1 I suspect I am not the only one who met or wrote you through this channel. Your presence first appeared to me in a poem I once...

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7 Economics, Euthanasia, Eugenics Rhetorical Commonplaces of Disability in the Nazi T-4 Program

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pp. 141-162

In the summer of 2004, I packed my rusty and rudimentary German skills and went back to the Fatherland, mein Vaterland. There, I joined twenty other scholars from Germany, Canada, and the United...


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pp. 163-178

Works Cited

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pp. 179-190

Index and About the Author

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pp. 191-203

E-ISBN-13: 9780814739006
E-ISBN-10: 0814739008
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814799666
Print-ISBN-10: 0814799663

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2009