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12:4 Monday, April 26, 2010

Crossing Interdisciplinary Intersections

Renowned Scholars Use Diverse Methodological Approaches with Deaf and Disability Studies

“Questions of identity, history, and language loom large in a project like this one,” acknowledge Susan Burch and Alison Kafer, editors of Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. “And the questions are neither easy nor discrete: mapping where issues of identity diverge from those of history, or untangling questions of language from those of identification, quickly becomes impossible.” Deaf and Disability Studies presents simultaneous interventions and investments in those very questions.

The fourteen essays in this collection “engages, in some fashion, with identity, history, and language,” note Burch and Kafer. “What does it mean to claim a Deaf (or deaf) identity rather than a disabled one in spite of overlapping histories of oppression? Or, what might it mean to refuse such distinctions between deaf and disability despite communication barriers and patterns of exclusion? How can we conceptualize deaf and disability together—in a particular person and in a particular analysis—without erasing or overstating their specificities?”

Although each of the renowned scholars included in this compilation do not come to the same conclusions about these questions, what they ultimately share is a strong desire to intervene in Deaf Studies and Disability Studies. As Burch and Kafer explain, “our authors enabled us to conceptualize this book as an opening up of these questions, as a place to think through collectively—as scholars and as activists, as readers and as authors—what it means to do deaf/disability studies without answering the question of what constitutes deaf/disability studies in advance. Given these experiences, we welcome the possibility that Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives may generate more questions than answers.”

Read the essay “Intersecting Reflections” now, and order Deaf and Disability Studies at a 20% savings off the regular price. For online orders, type “APR2010” in the box labeled “use promo code” located next to the “checkout” button, or order by mail.


“Sign language can be a valuable tool even for those who have the full power of hearing,” proclaims the Wisconsin Bookwatch, the library newsletter from The Midwest Book Review. “Handy Stories to Read and Sign is an easy-reader book aimed at helping readers master both written English and American Sign Language. With simple writing and simple diagrams of sign language, anyone who wants to help their children gain an understanding of both should consider Handy Stories to Read and Sign, a top pick for young readers.” This primer takes a bilingual, fun approach to help beginning readers, deaf and hearing, improve their comprehension of both English and American Sign Language. It is the perfect bilingual book for teaching children to read and sign. View a sample video clip from the Handy Stories to Read and Sign Companion DVD, and order the book, the DVD, or the book/DVD set today!


In Extraordinary from the Ordinary: Personal Narratives in American Sign Language, the 15th volume in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series, Kristin Jean Mulrooney shows that accounts by Deaf persons expressed in American Sign Language (ASL) possess the same characteristics and functions as oral personal narratives, providing insight into the social dimensions of language use. A recent issue of Reference & Research Book News highlighted this study stating: “Mulrooney reports findings of a recent study examining how ASL users package experiences and convey them to others in the form of personal narrative. Analyzing 12 personal narratives by ASL signers, she finds that their accounts possess the same characteristics and perform the same function as oral personal narratives. She identifies two types of narration, textual (T) narration in which the narrator uses lexical signs to grammatically encode information and focus attention on the story, and perceived (P) narration which focuses on the narrator’s experience of the past events. She also finds that narratives are structured into sections—an introduction, a ‘main events’ section identifying and describing past occurrences, and a conclusion—and may also include a background information component, expansion or clarifying section, and a section explaining the narrator’s feelings about the experience.” Read more in chapter one, and order Extraordinary from the Ordinary.


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