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2:9 Friday, September 22, 2000

"The moment when a society must contend with a powerful language other than its own is a decisive point in its evolution. This moment is occurring now in American society."

In the 1950s William C. Stokoe, a Professor of English at Gallaudet University, demonstrated the sign language his students practiced to be its own independent language, analogous to any other in the hearing world. Aside from the social and political implications Stokoe's work would have for the Deaf community, the legitimization of American Sign Language spawned an unprecedented renaissance in ASL peformance art, drama, and poetry. Now Cynthia Peters, also a Professor of English at Gallaudet, takes Stokoe's original contention one step further, arguing for the rightful place of ASL literature in the Western literary tradition in Deaf American Literature: From Carnival to the Canon.

Peters recognizes the cultural diversity of ASL artists as one source of their distinct genius. Relating the Deaf community's tradition of literary nights to the archetypal notion of carnival, a time and place where all elements of society mix on equal terms, Peters presents ASL literature as a hybrid of signed performances and written English, the former often improvising upon and parodying the latter. "Carnival by its nature is not just a party or a festival; it is the counterculture of the dominated. It offers a different view of the world—one from below—and makes possible the symbolic overthrow of oppressive social structures." Read an excerpt from Chapter Three: Deaf Carnivals as Centers of Culture or, exclusive to our newsletter subscribers, order Deaf American Literature at 20% off the regular price.

Sneak Peek at SLS 1:1

September signals your last opportunity to take advantage of the special pre-publication discount on subscriptions to Sign Language Studies, the seminal journal founded by William C. Stokoe. After a three-year hiatus, SLS will be reintroduced by the Press next month under the editorial direction of Stokoe's longtime friend and colleague, David F. Armstrong. Volume 1: Issue 1 will include one of Stokoe's last essays, Models, Signs, and Universal Rules, exclusively available here to our newsletter subscribers. Take advantage of this special pre-publication offer now.

Booklist celebrates Dennis Buck's Deaf Peddler: Confessions of an Inside Man in its September issue. "Buck, deaf from birth and wheelchair bound since college, tells about his life...in the context of the history of the deaf peddler. His courage during physical rehabilitation from a motorcycle accident matches his gutsy approach to learning how to peddle and how to handle competition in airports." Read the full review, or read Chapter Three: Early Days on the Road.

Donald Moores, editor of American Annals of the Deaf, contributes this resounding endorsement of Horst Biesold's Crying Hands: Eugenics and Deaf People in Nazi Germany: "Biesold, a German educator of the deaf, is to be applauded for his courage, determination and scholarship in obtaining the information necessary to complete his work, often in the face of official non-cooperation more than half a century after the holocaust. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his perseverance." Read the full review, read Chapter One: From Social Darwinism to National Socialism, or order Crying Hands.


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