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Vol 3 (2009) through current issue
In 2009 the innovative Journal of Literary Disability is moving to Liverpool University Press under the new title Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies. It will continue to focus on the literary representation of disability , but cultural studies will now be added to the multidisciplinary mix. With an editorial board of 50 internationally renowned scholars, the journal is central to the literary disability movement that is changing the face of literary studies on a global scale.
Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli
The Jewish religion owns a virtually uninterrupted record of scripture and commentary dating back to 1,000 B.C.E. (B.C.), portions of which allow the new book Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli to document attitudes toward disabled people in the earliest centuries of this ancient culture. Abrams examines the Tanach, the Hebrew acronym for the Jewish Bible, including passages from the Torah, Prophets, and Writings, and subsequent commentaries up to and through the Bavli, the Talmud of Babylonia written between the 5th and 7th centuries C.E. (A.D.). In Judaism and Disability, the archaic portrayals of mentally ill, mentally retarded, physically affected, deaf, blind, and other disabled people reflect the sharp contrast they presented compared to the unchanging Judaic ideal of the “perfect priest.” All of these sources describe this perfection as embodied in a person who is male, free, unblemished, with da’at (cognition that can be communicated), preferably learned, and a priest. The failure to have da’at stigmatized disabled individuals, who were also compromised by the treatment they received from nondisabled people, who were directing and constraining. As the Judaic ideal transformed from the bodily perfection of the priest in the cult to intellectual prowess in the Diaspora, a parallel change of attitudes toward disabled persons gradually occurred. The reduced emphasis upon physical perfection as a prerequisite for a relationship with God eventually enabled the enfranchisement of some disabled people and other minorities. Scholars, students, and other readers will find the engrossing process disclosed in Judaism and Disability one that they can apply to a variety of other disciplines.
Disability, Housing, and Equity in the South
With America on the brink of the largest number of older adults and persons with disabilities in the country’s history, the deceleration in housing production during the first decade of the twenty-first century, and a continued reliance on conventional housing policies and practices, a perfect storm has emerged in the housing industry. The lack of fit between the existing housing stock and the needs of the U.S. population is growing pronounced. Just as housing needed to be retooled at the end of WWII, the American housing industry is in dire need of change today. The South—with its high rates of poverty, older residents, residents with disabilities, extensive rural areas, and out-of-date housing policies and practices—serves as a “canary in the coal mine” for the impending, nationwide housing crisis. Just Below the Line discusses how reworking the policies and practices of the housing industry in the South can serve as a model for the rest of the nation in meeting the physical and social needs of persons with disabilities and aging boomers. Policy makers, designers, builders, realtors, advocates, and housing consumers will be able to use this book to promote the production of equitable housing nationwide.
In a diverse signing community, it is not unusual to encounter a wide variety of expression in the types of signs used by different people. Perceptions of signing proficiency often vary within the community, however. Conventional wisdom intimates that those who learned at an early age at home or in school know true basic or standard American Sign Language. Those who learned ASL later in life or use contact or coded signs are considered to be less skillful Joseph Christopher Hill shows in Language Attitudes in the American Deaf Community various contradictions in the use of signed languages. Hill’s new study explores the linguistic and social factors that govern such stereotypical perceptions of social groups about signing differences. Hill’s analysis focuses on affective, cognitive, and behavioral types of evaluative responses toward particular language varieties, such as ASL, contact signing, and Signed English. His work takes into account the perceptions of these signing types among the social groups of the American Deaf community that vary based on generation, age of acquisition, and race. He also gauges the effects of social information on these perceptions, and their evaluation and descriptions of signing that departs from their respective concept of a signing standard. Language Attitudes concludes that standard ASL’s value will continue to rise and the Deaf/Hearing cultural dichotomy will remain relevant without the occurrence of a dramatic cultural shift.
Why Sign Came Before Speech
In Language in Hand: Why Sign Came Before Speech, William C. Stokoe begins his exploration of the origin of human language with a 2400-year-old quote by Democritus: “Everything existing in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity.” Stokoe capitalizes upon this simple credo in this far-ranging examination of the scholarly topography to support his formula for the development of language in humans: gesture-to-language-to-speech. Intrinsic to this is the proposition that speech is sufficient for language, but not necessary. Chance brought human ancestors down from the trees to the ground, freeing their hands for gesture, and then sign language, a progression that came from the necessity to communicate. Stokoe recounts in Language in Hand how inspiration grew out of his original discovery in the 1950s and ’60s that deaf people who signed were using a true language with constructions that did not derive from spoken English. This erudite, highly engaging investigation calls upon decades of personal experience and published research to refute the recently entrenched principles that humans have a special, innate learning faculty for language and that speech equates with language. Integrating current findings in linguistics, semiotics, and anthropology, Stokoe fashions a closely-reasoned argument that suggests how our human ancestors’ powers of observation and natural hand movements could have evolved into signed morphemes. Stokoe also proposes how the primarily gestural expression of language with vocal support shifted to primarily vocal language with gestural accompaniment. When describing this transition, however, he never loses sight of the significance of humans in the natural world and the role of environmental stimuli in the development of language. Stokoe illustrates this contention with fascinating observations of small, contemporary ethnic groups such as the Assiniboin Nakotas, a Native American group from Montana that intermingle their spoken and signed languages depending upon cultural imperatives. Language in Hand also presents innovative thoughts on classifiers in American Sign Language and their similarity to certain spoken languages, convincing evidence that speech originally copied sign language forms before developing unrelated conventions through usage. Stokoe concludes with a hypothesis on how the acceptance of sign language as the first language of humans could revolutionize the education of infants, both deaf and hearing, who, like early humans, have the full capacity for language without speech.
Exploring the Nature of Sign
This enjoyable book first introduces sign language and communication, follows with a history of sign languages in general, then delves into the structure of ASL. Later chapters outline the special skills of fingerspelling and assess the the academic offshoot of artificial sign systems and their value to young deaf children. Language in Motion offers for consideration the process required to learn sign language and putting sign language to work to communicate in the Deaf community. Appendices featuring the manual alphabets of three countries and a notation system developed to write signs complete this enriching book. Its delightful potpourri of entertaining, accessible knowledge makes it a perfect primer for those interested in learning more about sign language, Deaf culture, and Deaf communities.
The Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
The new, revised, fifth edition of Legal Rights offers in easy-to-understand language the latest state and federal statutes and administrative procedures that prohibit discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing people, and any others with physical challenges. It includes complete information on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, new laws for hearing aid-compatible telephones, the new Rehabilitation Act regulations that ensure access to electronic and information technology, and how recent Supreme Court rulings will affect people who wear hearing aids. This outstanding resource also explains new requirements for federal buildings and other new structures to provide full access. Recent additions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are described, as are the ways public schools can meet new acoustical standards for classrooms. Legal Rights covers the entire spectrum of communication issues for deaf and hard of hearing people, from the new rules about interpreters in federal courts to the latest developments regarding relay services. It also lists those states that are leaders in ensuring access and equal rights to people with disabilities, making it the most complete source of legal information for deaf and hard of hearing people now available.
Rhetorical Constructions of Deafness
Brueggemann’s assault upon this long-standing rhetorical conceit is both erudite and personal; she writes both as a scholar and as a hard-of-hearing woman. In this broadly based study, she presents a profound analysis and understanding of this rhetorical tradition’s descendent disciplines (e.g., audiology, speech/language pathology) that continue to limit deaf people. Next to this even-handed scholarship, she juxtaposes a volatile emotional counterpoint achieved through interviews with Deaf individuals who have faced rhetorically constructed restrictions, and interludes of her own poetry and memoirs. The energized structure of Lend Me Your Ear galvanizes new thought on the rhetoric surrounding Deaf people by posing basic questions from a rhetorical context: How is deafness constructed as a disability, pathology, or culture through the institutions of literacy education and science/technology, and how do these constructions fit with those of deaf people themselves? The rhetoric of deafness as pathology is associated with the conventional medical and scientific establishments, and literacy education fosters deafness as disability, both dependent upon the premise that speech drives communication. This kinetic study demands consideration of deafness in terms of the rhetoric of Deaf culture, American Sign Language (ASL), and the political activism of Deaf people. Brueggemann argues strenuously and successfully for a reevaluation of the speech model of rhetoric in light of the singular qualities of ASL poetry, a genre that adds the dimension of space and is not disembodied. Ironically, without a word being spoken or printed, ASL poetry returns to the fading, prized oral tradition of poets such as Homer. The speech imperative in traditional rhetoric also fails to present rhetorical forms for listening, or a rhetoric of silence. These and other break-out concepts introduced in Lend Me Your Ear that will stimulate scholars and students of rhetoric, language, and Deaf studies to return to this intriguing work again and again.
The Autobiography of a Deaf Actor
To succeed as an actor is a rare feat. To succeed as a deaf actor is nothing short of amazing. Lessons in Laughter is the story of Bernard Bragg and his astonishing lifelong achievements in the performing arts. Born deaf of deaf parents, Bernard Bragg has won international renown as an actor, director, playwright, and lecturer. Lessons in Laughter recounts in stories that are humorous, painful, touching, and outrageous, the growth of his dream of using the beauty of sign language to act. He starred in his own television show “The Quiet Man,” helped found The National Theatre of the Deaf, and traveled worldwide to teach his acting methods.
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.