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Cultural and Contextual Perspectives
This compelling collection advocates for an alternative view of deaf people’s literacy, one that emphasizes recent shifts in Deaf cultural identity rather than a student’s past educational context as determined by the dominant hearing society. Divided into two parts, the book opens with four chapters by leading scholars Tom Humphries, Claire Ramsey, Susan Burch, and volume editor Brenda Jo Brueggemann. These scholars use diverse disciplines to reveal how schools where deaf children are taught are the product of ideologies about teaching, about how deaf children learn, and about the relationship of ASL and English. Part Two features works by Elizabeth Engen and Trygg Engen; Tane Akamatsu and Ester Cole; Lillian Buffalo Tompkins; Sherman Wilcox and BoMee Corwin; and Kathleen M. Wood. The five chapters contributed by these noteworthy researchers offer various views on multicultural and bilingual literacy instruction for deaf students. Subjects range from a study of literacy in Norway, where Norwegian Sign Language recently became the first language of instruction for deaf pupils, to the difficulties faced by deaf immigrant and refugee children who confront institutional and cultural clashes. Other topics include the experiences of deaf adults who became bilingual in ASL and English, and the interaction of the pathological versus the cultural view of deafness. The final study examines literacy among Deaf college undergraduates as a way of determining how the current social institution of literacy translates for Deaf adults and how literacy can be extended to deaf people beyond the age of 20.
Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life
A very important study that will appeal to a disability studies audience as well as scholars in social movements, social justice, critical pedagogy, literacy education, professional development for disability and learning specialists in access centers and student counseling centers, as well as the broader domains of sociology and education. ---Melanie Panitch, Ryerson University "Ableism is alive and well in higher education. We do not know how to abandon the myth of the 'pure (ivory) tower that props up and is propped up by ableist ideology.' . . . Mad at School is thoroughly researched and pathbreaking. . . . The author's presentation of her own experience with mental illness is woven throughout the text with candor and eloquence." ---Linda Ware, State University of New York at Geneseo Mad at School explores the contested boundaries between disability, illness, and mental illness in the setting of U.S. higher education. Much of the research and teaching within disability studies assumes a disabled body but a rational and energetic (an "agile") mind. In Mad at School, scholar and disabilities activist Margaret Price asks: How might our education practices change if we understood disability to incorporate the disabled mind? Mental disability (more often called "mental illness") is a topic of fast-growing interest in all spheres of American culture, including popular, governmental, aesthetic, and academic. Mad at School is a close study of the ways that mental disabilities impact academic culture. Investigating spaces including classrooms, faculty meeting rooms, and job searches, Price challenges her readers to reconsider long-held values of academic life, including productivity, participation, security, and independence. Ultimately, she argues that academic discourse both produces and is produced by a tacitly privileged "able mind," and that U.S. higher education would benefit from practices that create a more accessible academic world. Mad at School is the first book to use a disability-studies perspective to focus specifically on the ways that mental disabilities impact academic culture at institutions of higher education. Individual chapters examine the language used to denote mental disability; the role of "participation" and "presence" in student learning; the role of "collegiality" in faculty work; the controversy over "security" and free speech that has arisen in the wake of recent school shootings; and the marginalized status of independent scholars with mental disabilities. Margaret Price is Associate Professor of English at Spelman College.
Samuel G. Howe and the Contours of Nineteenth-Century American Reform
A native of Boston and a physician by training, Samuel G. Howe (1801–1876) led a remarkable life. He was a veteran of the Greek War of Independence, a fervent abolitionist, and the founder of both the Perkins School for the Blind and the Massachusetts School for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Children. Married to Julia Ward Howe, author of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” he counted among his friends Senator Charles Sumner, public school advocate Horace Mann, and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Always quick to refer to himself as a liberal, Howe embodied the American Renaissance’s faith in the perfectibility of human beings, and he spoke out in favor of progressive services for disabled Americans. A Romantic figure even in his own day, he embraced a notion of manliness that included heroism under fire but also compassion for the underdog and the oppressed. Though hardly a man without flaws and failures, he nevertheless represented the optimism that characterized much of antebellum American reform. The first full-length biography of Samuel G. Howe in more than fifty years, The Manliest Man explores his life through private letters and personal and public documents. It offers an original view of the reformer’s personal life, his association with social causes of his time, and his efforts to shape those causes in ways that allowed for the greater inclusion of devalued people in the mainstream of American life.
International Variation in Deaf Communities
The recent explosion of sociocultural, linguistic, and historical research on signed languages throughout the world has culminated in Many Ways to Be Deaf, an unmatched collection of in-depth articles about linguistic diversity in Deaf communities on five continents. Twenty-four international scholars have contributed their findings from studying Deaf communities in Japan, Thailand, Viet Nam, Taiwan, Russia, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Nicaragua, and the United States. Sixteen chapters consider the various antecedents of each country’s native signed language, taking into account the historical background of their development and also the effects of foreign influences and changes in philosophies by the larger, dominant hearing societies. The remarkable range of topics covered in Many Ways to Be Deaf will fascinate readers, from the evolution of British fingerspelling traced back to the 17th century; the comparison of Swiss German Sign Language with Rhaeto-Romansch, another Swiss minority language; the analysis of seven signed languages described in Thailand and how they differ in relation to their distance from isolated Deaf communities to Bangkok and other urban centers; to the vaulting development of a nascent sign language in Nicaragua, and much more. The diversity of background and training among the contributors to Many Ways to Be Deaf distinguishes it as a genuine and unique multicultural examination of the myriad manifestations of being Deaf in a diverse world.
Only recently have linguists ceased to regard metaphors as mere frills on the periphery of language and begun to recognize them as cornerstones of discourse. Phyllis Wilcox takes this innovation one step further in her fascinating study of metaphors in American Sign Language (ASL). Such an inquiry has long been obscured by, as Wilcox calls it, “the shroud of iconicity.” ASL’s iconic nature once discouraged people from recognizing it as a language; more recently it has served to confuse linguists examining its metaphors. Wilcox, however, presents methods for distinguishing between icon and metaphor, allowing the former to clarify, not cloud, the latter. “If the iconic influence that surrounds metaphor is set aside, the results will be greater understanding, and interpretations that are less opaque.” Wilcox concludes her study with a close analysis of the ASL poem, “The Dogs,” by Ella Mae Lentz. In presenting Deaf Americans’, Deaf Germans’, and Deaf Italians’ reactions to the poem, Wilcox manages not only to demonstrate the influence of culture upon metaphors, but also to illuminate the sources of sociopolitical division within the American Deaf community. Metaphor in American Sign Language proves an engrossing read for those interested in linguistics and Deaf culture alike.
An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864
“I need not tell you that a mighty change has taken place within the last half century, a change for the better,” Alphonso Johnson, the president of the Empire State Association of Deaf-Mutes, signed to hundreds of assembled deaf people in 1869. Johnson pointed to an important truth: the first half of the 19th century was a period of transformation for deaf Americans, a time that saw the rise of deaf education and the coalescence of the nation’s deaf community. This volume contains original writing by deaf people that both directed and reflected this remarkable period of change. It begins with works by Laurent Clerc, the deaf Frenchman who came to the United Sates in 1816 to help found the first permanent school for deaf students in the nation. Partially through is writing, Clerc impressed hearing Americans–most of whom had never met an educated deaf person before–with his intelligence and humanity. Other deaf writers shared their views with society through the democratic power of print. Included here are selections by James Nack, a deaf poet who surprised readers with his mellifluous verse; John Burnet, who published a book of original essays, fiction, and poetry; Edmund Booth, a frontiersman and journalist; John Carlin, who galvanized the drive for a national college for deaf people; Laura Redden, a high-achieving student who would go on to become an accomplished reporter; and Adele Jewel, a homeless deaf woman living in Michigan. The final sections contain documents related to deaf events and issues at mid-century: the grand reunion of alumni of the American Asylum for the Deaf in 1850; the dedication of the Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet monument in Hartford; the debate over the viability of a deaf state; and the triumphant inauguration of the National Deaf-Mute College (now Gallaudet University) in 1864, which in many ways culminated this period of change. Taken together, the individual texts in this remarkable collection provide a valuable historical record and a direct glimpse of the experiences, attitudes, and rhetoric of deaf Americans during this time of change.
As a child of deaf adults (CODA), Pia Taavila first learned to communicate when her deaf father fingerspelled the names of toys in her crib and her mother showed her the signs for objects in picture books. From this primary visual orientation, in combination with her own innate sense of imagery, Taavila crafted the lush verse featured in Moon on the Meadow: Collected Poems. Taavila uses the graphic power of her poetry to evoke emotions about all aspects of existence — love, loss of love, family, death, and desire — feelings elicited through a lens attuned to the simple beauty of the natural. Most of the poems in Moon on the Meadow have been published at least once in established journals, testimony to the broad appeal of her passionate outlook on life. Yet, Taavila believes that her experiences as a CODA are essential to her ability to write at all. She never strays far from her home, her family, and the comforts they bring her through her art. At a wedding, a flautist’s languid notes lilt on the air. My mother, who cannot hear, leans forward, attentive to the dip and sway of his body. She signs to me: It sounds like butterflies
This collection offers a wide variety of fascinating studies that consider multicultural aspects among deaf people worldwide. Mala Kleinfeld and Noni Warner investigate variation in the use of gay, lesbian, and bisexual signs in the Deaf community; Jan Branson, Don Miller, and I Gede Marsaja, assisted by I Wayan Negara, profile a deaf village in Bali, Indonesia in which hearing people are fluent in both sign and spoken languages. Alejandro Oviedo in Venezuela comments on bilingual deaf education in Venezuela, and Sara Schley outlines the sociolinguistic and educational implications of comparing ASL and English word definitions. Susan Mather discusses initiation in visually constructed dialogue from reading books with 3- to 8-year-old students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Pietro Celo offers insights on the interrogative in Italian Sign Language, and Julie Wilson examines narrative structure in American Sign Language ASL) through her analysis of “the tobacco story.” Rhonda Jacobs completes this significant, wide-ranging volume with her research on second language learning, as she presents the case for ASL as a truly foreign language by posing the question, “Just how hard is it to learn ASL?”
From the Great Plains to Australia
The latest entry in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series continues to mine the rich resources found in signing communities throughout the world. Divided into four parts, this collection features 16 internationally renowned linguistics experts whose absorbing studies reflect an astonishing range of linguistic diversity. The sole essay in Part One: Multilingualism describes historic and contemporary uses of North American Indian Sign Language. Part Two: Language Contact examines language-contact phenomena between Auslan/English interpreters and Deaf people in Australia, and the features of bimodal bilingualism in hearing, Italian, native signers. Part Three: Variation reports the results of a study on location variation in Australian Sign Language. Part Four: Discourse Analysis begins with an analysis of how deaf parents and their hearing toddlers establish and maintain sight triangles when conducting signed conversations. The ensuing chapter explores the use of evaluation within an informal narrative in Langue des Signes Québécoise. The final chapter explicates how a signer depersonalizes the concept of “self” in an American Sign Language narrative through the use of signs for “he” and “I.”
A Young Australian’s Experience with Deafness
Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1974, Paul Jacobs lost his mother when he was three months old. When he was five, he lost most of his hearing. These two defining events formed the core of his being. He spent the first two decades of his life “coming to terms with being neither Deaf nor hearing — a neither/nor, an in-between — and a person with a social identity that had yet to be invented.” His memoir, Neither—Nor: A Young Australian’s Experience with Deafness, recounts this journey. Jacobs excelled in sports and the classroom, but he never lost awareness of how he was seen as different, often in cruel or patronizing ways. His father, a child psychologist, headed a long list of supportive people in his life, including his Uncle Brian, his itinerant teacher of the deaf Mrs. Carey, a gifted art teacher Mrs. Klein, who demanded and received from him first-rate work, a notetaker Rita, and Bella, his first girlfriend. Jacobs eventually attended university, where he graduated with honors. He also entered the Deaf world when he starred on the Deaf Australian World Cup cricket team. However, he never learned sign language, and frequently noted the lack of an adult role model for “neither—nors” such as himself. Still emotionally adrift in 1998, Jacobs toured Europe, then volunteered to tutor deaf residents at Court Grange College in Devon, England. There, he discovered a darker reality for some deaf individuals — hearing loss complicated by schizophrenia, Bonnevie-Ullrich Syndrome, and other conditions. After returning to Australia, Jacobs recognized what he had gleaned from his long journey: “Power comes from within, not without. Sure, deafness makes one prone to be stigmatized. Yet having a disability can act as a stimulus for greater personal growth, richer experiences, and more genuine relationships.”