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The Deaf History Reader presents nine masterful chapters that bring together a remarkably vivid depiction of the varied Deaf experience in America. This collection features the finest scholarship from a noteworthy group of historians, including Reginald Boyd, Barry A. Crouch, Mary French, Brian H. Greenwald, Harlan Lane, Harry G. Lang, Kent R. Olney, Richard Pillard, Jill Hendricks Porco, Michael Reis, and volume editor John Vickrey Van Cleve. The incisive articles collected here include an exploration of the genesis of the Deaf community and early evidence of the use of sign language; a comparison of a failed, oralist school for deaf students in Virginia to the success of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut; the development of Deaf consciousness among people who carried a dominant gene for deafness; a biographical sketch of Mary Ann Walworth Booth, an accomplished deaf woman who lived on the Western frontier; an account of Deaf agency in the Indiana Institution and the Evansville Day School; the early antecedents of mainstreaming deaf children despite the objections of their parents; a profile of Alexander Graham Bell that contrasts his support of eugenics to his defense of Deaf rights; the conflicting actions of supervisors of the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf; and finally, the critical role played by deaf people in the Chicago Mission for the Deaf’s success in maintaining the Deaf community for more than five decades. The remarkably rich range of topics treated in The Deaf History Reader assure its future status as a standard resource for all Deaf scholars and students.
Interpretations from the New Scholarship
Deaf History Unveiled features 16 essays, including work by Harlan Lane, Renate Fischer, Margret Winzer, William McCagg, and other noted historians in this field. Readers will discover the new themes driving Deaf history, including a telling comparison of the similar experiences of Deaf people and African Americans, both minorities with identifying characteristics that cannot be hidden to thwart bias. Other studies track societal paternalism toward deaf people in Italy, Hungary, and the United States. Adding to its intrigue, the new research in this milestone study provides evidence for previously uncredited self-determination of Deaf people in establishing education, employment, and social structures common throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Historians, teachers, and students alike will prize Deaf History Unveiled as a singular collection of insights that will change historical perspectives on the Deaf experience worldwide.
Local Lives, Transnational Connections
In his revolutionary new book, Jan-Kåre Breivik profiles ten Norwegian Deaf people and their life stories within a translocal/transnational framework. Breivik notes that, unlike hearing people, who form their identities from familial roots and local senses of place, deaf individuals often find themselves distanced from their own families and akin to other deaf people in far locations. His study records emerging deaf identities, which he observes are always in the making, and if settled, only temporarily so. To capture the identification processes involved, he relies upon a narrative perspective to trace identity as temporarily produced through autobiographical accounts or capsule life stories. As a result, he has produced striking, in-depth accounts of how core questions of identity are approached from different deaf points of view. The ten stories in Deaf Identities in the Making reveal deaf people who would like a stronger link to the Deaf world. Each story sheds different light on the overriding, empowering master narrative that has become an integral feature of the Deaf community. Like success stories from other minorities, the Deaf life story reinforces the collective empowerment process in a Deaf social milieu. Because of these revelations, Breivik’s findings easily reverberate globally in conjunction to the striking similarities of deaf lives around the world, particularly those connected with the experiences of being translocal signers who have struggled for identity in an overwhelmingly hearing context.
Since the French Revolution in1789, Deaf French people have struggled to preserve their cultural heritage, to win full civil rights, and to gain access to society through their sign language. Anne T. Quartararo depicts this struggle in her new book Deaf Identity and Social Images in Nineteenth-Century France. In it, she portrays the genesis of the French Deaf community, examines its identity as a minority culture, and analyzes how deaf people developed their cultural heritage, a deaf patrimonie that has been historically connected to the preservation of French sign language. Quartararo begins by describing how Abbé de l’Epée promoted the education of deaf students with sign language, an approach supported by the French revolutionary government, which formally established the Paris Deaf Institute in 1791. In the early part of the nineteenth century, the school’s hearing director, Roch-Ambroise-Auguste Bébian, advocated the use of sign language even while the institute’s physician Dr. Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard worked to discredit signing. In this meticulous study, Quartararo details the many variations in deaf education from 1830 to1930. She describes the banquet movement in the 1830s led by Ferdinand Berthier, Alponse Lenoir, and Claudius Forestier, which celebrated sign language and fostered the deaf association known as the Société Centrale. Quartararo also recounts how hearing educators at the Milan Congress in 1880 universally adopted oralism as the way to defeat deafness, and prohibited sign language in deaf schools. French deaf people refused to submit to this attack upon their cultural heritage, however, and an explosion of social activity among deaf people between 1880 and 1900 created a host of active deaf groups in all corners of the country. Deaf Identity and Social Images paints a unique, rich tapestry of the resilience of French deaf people in defending their culture through the most trying century in their history.
In his first memoir, Madan Vasishta described being a deaf boy in his homeland India, where “deaf” meant someone who is not human. After rising from herding cattle to being a respected photographer in Delhi, his first memoir concluded with his acceptance at Gallaudet College far away in America. Vasishta’s new memoir begins with his arrival in Washington, DC in 1967 with $40.00 in his pocket and very little knowledge of the new worlds he was entering. Vasishta faced myriad challenges from the outset—he knew no American Sign Language and could not speech read, yet he found himself thrust into classes at Gallaudet two weeks into the semester. Cultural differences mystified him, such as how all American car accidents were someone else’s fault even when one’s car hits a stationary object. He was amazed that his fellow students did not deride him for his mistakes, unlike in India where he would have been scorned for his weakness. After five years, he returned home to India for a visit and was stunned to learn that he no longer fit in, that “even if you do not have an American Dream, the American Dream will have you.” Deaf in DC follows Vasishta through half a century living in America. He witnessed the transformation from facing bias as a deaf, foreign man of color who could not get a job despite having a Ph.D., to receiving five offers as a school superintendent in the wake of the Civil Rights movement and Deaf President Now. His new memoir reflects a genuine worldview informed by the sage perceptions of a person who has lived widely in many worlds.
Now, for the first time, a collection featuring 17 widely respected scholars depicts the everyday practices of deaf interpreters in their respective nations. Deaf Interpreters at Work: International Insights presents the history of Deaf translators and interpreters and details the development of testing and accreditation to raise their professional profiles. Other chapters delineate the cognitive processes of Deaf interpreting; Deaf-Deaf interpreter teams; Deaf and hearing team preparation; the use of Tactile American Sign Language by those interpreting for the Deaf Blind community; and conference interpreting and interpreting teams. Along with volume coeditors Christopher Stone, Robert Adam, and Steven D. Collins, contributors include Markus Aro, Karen Bontempo, Juan Carlos Druetta, Senan Dunne, Eileen Forestal, Della Goswell, Juli af Klintberg, Patricia Levitzke-Gray, Jemina Napier, Brenda Nicodemus, Debra Russell, Stephanie Sforza, Marty Taylor, and Linda Warby. The scope of their research spans the world, including many unique facets of interpreting by deaf people in Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the United States, establishing this work as the standard in this burgeoning discipline.
Development in Curriculum and Instruction
Quartararo begins by describing how Abbé de l’Epée promoted the education of deaf students with sign language, an approach supported by the French revolutionary government, which formally established the Paris Deaf Institute in 1791. In the early part of the nineteenth century, the school’s hearing director, Roch-Ambroise-Auguste Bébian, advocated the use of sign language even while the institute’s physician Dr. Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard worked to discredit signing.
Two Women's Stories
Deaf Lives in Contrast: Two Women’s Stories might seem to bring together polar opposites in the broad range of deaf experience. Yet, as these narratives unfold, the reader will recognize that common threads run through them despite their different circumstances. Mary V. Rivers, who came from a “dirt poor” Cajun family in Louisiana, was only 17 when she married Bruce Rivers, a member of the U.S. Air Force during World War II. She bore three children in quick succession, all boys, and traveled with them to Europe with her husband. When her third son Clay was nearly two, however, she learned that he was deaf. From that time on, she devoted her life to securing a good education for Clay. Dvora Shurman’s parents, deaf Jewish immigrants from Russia, met in Chicago after World War I. Both were educated orally, declaring “I am not born deaf. Signing only for born-deaf.” They did sign, but they also wanted hearing children, stemming from their own sense of devaluation. Shurman lived a dual life in the deaf and hearing worlds. She saw herself as her deaf parents’ ears, their voice to the hearing world, and as sharing with her mother the task of being mother. The resonating theme that echoes with both of these women centers on their resentment of the treatment received by their deaf loved ones. Early in her life, Shurman adopted a slogan with her father, “‘It’s Not Fair,’ to rebel against the shaming, the demeaning, our family suffered.” After years of struggling for her son, Rivers asserts that “deaf people have a right to prove themselves as first class citizens.” Their uncommon stories reveal that they share more in common, a belief in equal rights for all, deaf and hearing.
“Albert Ballin’s greatest ambition was that The Deaf Mute Howls would transform education for deaf children and more, the relations between deaf and hearing people everywhere. While his primary concern was to improve the lot of the deaf person ‘shunned and isolated as a useless member of society,’ his ambitions were larger yet. He sought to make sign language universally known among both hearing and deaf. He believed that would be the great "Remedy,” as he called it, for the ills that afflicted deaf people in the world, and would vastly enrich the lives of hearing people as well.” --From the Introduction by Douglas Baynton, author, Forbidden Signs Originally published in 1930, The Deaf Mute Howls flew in the face of the accepted practice of teaching deaf children to speak and read lips while prohibiting the use of sign language. The sharp observations in Albert Ballin’s remarkable book detail his experiences (and those of others) at a late 19th-century residential school for deaf students and his frustrations as an adult seeking acceptance in the majority hearing society. The Deaf Mute Howls charts the ambiguous attitudes of deaf people toward themselves at this time. Ballin himself makes matter-of-fact use of terms now considered disparaging, such as “deaf-mute,” and he frequently rues the “atrophying” of the parts of his brain necessary for language acquisition. At the same time, he rails against the loss of opportunity for deaf people, and he commandingly shifts the burden of blame to hearing people unwilling to learn the “Universal Sign Language,” his solution to the communication problems of society. From his lively encounters with Alexander Graham Bell (whose desire to close residential schools he surprisingly supports), to his enthrallment with the film industry, Ballin’s highly readable book offers an appealing look at the deaf world during his richly colored lifetime.