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5:8 Monday, August 11, 2003

High Marks for History Books

An In-depth Review Lauds Press Authors

An article in The American Historical Review recognized several of the Press’s titles in its June 2003 issue. First noted is Jan Branson and Don Miller’s Damned for Their Difference: The Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled, which offers a well-founded explanation of how the discrimination against Deaf people came to be through a discursive exploration of the cultural, social, and historical contexts of these attitudes and behavior toward deaf people, especially in Great Britain. In her review essay, Catherine J. Kudlick states that Branson and Miler “provide an excellent, if unusual, point of departure for understanding deaf history in the West.” The review concludes with: “Damned for Their Difference ends with a spirited critique of recent drives to create national sign language dictionaries—symbols of deaf culture’s success in the West—as oppressive to a patchwork of deaf linguistic traditions existing in much of the world.” Read chapter two, The Domestication of Difference: The Classification, Segregation, and Institutionalization of Unreason, and learn how the majority societies around the world viewed people who were “different.” You can also take advantage of your exclusive subscriber discount when you order Damned for Their Difference.

In Illusions of Equality: Deaf Americans in School and Factory, 1850-1950, historian Robert M. Buchanan expertly chronicles and analyzes the hundred years between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, which marked a time of remarkable progress and unconscionable discrimination for deaf men and women chasing the American Dream. Hence the glowing review of Illusions of Equality commending it for demonstrating “many of the strengths and weaknesses possible in historical approaches to disability.” Furthermore, Buchanan is praised as “a talented, energetic researcher who has brought a compelling and important chapter of deaf history to life by introducing us to sources and case studies from across the country....He tells a lively story with interesting characters and a good plot while making readers aware of places where future work needs to be one, most notably in issues related to race and gender.” You can read more about Illusions of Equality in an excerpt from chapter six, Conspiracy of Silence: Contesting Exclusion and Oral Hegemony, and receive a 20% discount when you order your copy.

A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864 edited by Christopher Krentz collects the earliest writings by prominent and previously obscure deaf Americans. The anthology includes prose and poetry by Laurent Clerc, James Nack, John Burnet, John Carlin, Edmund Booth, Adele M. Jewel, and Laura Redden Searing, as well as exchanges in the debate over a Deaf Commonwealth and the inauguration of the National Deaf-Mute College, later Gallaudet University. Catherine J. Kudlick offers accolades of this compilation stating, “Christopher Krentz’s book....is the best autobiographical collection currently available for deaf history.” Additionally, the reviewer comments, “One only wishes that, in a field that desperately needs people to tell their own stories, more such volumes existed for other times, other places, and other disabilities.” Read chapter six, Adele M. Jewel, which includes an excerpt from her pamphlet A Brief Narrative on the Life of Mrs. Adele M. Jewel (Being Deaf and Dumb), and order A Mighty Change at a special savings of 20% off the regular price.

Horst Biesold’s Crying Hands: Eugenics and Deaf People in Nazi Germany, a history of the persecution of Deaf people in Nazi Germany, also received deserving praise. The reviewer writes: “Horst Biesold’s [book] is a welcome, if problematic, early contribution to this little-told story.” The praise continues with: “...Crying Hands is an experience, a riveting account. Here, hundreds and hundreds of deaf people tell their stories—without the aid of literary conventions and without the backing of a wider world that has joined them in their outrage. Even as mediated history, this is raw stuff that forces us to suspend analysis until such a time as more studies of disability in the past can give us a deeper understanding of how humans deal with their relationship to difference.” Chapter one, From Social Darwinism to National Socialism, sheds more light on this wrenching study of the forced sterilization and murder of deaf people in Nazi Germany. Order Crying Hands and receive a 20% discount.

Honorable mentions also go to Deaf History Unveiled: Interpretations from the New Scholarship, calling it “a still-unsurpassed volume that explores the topic [of deaf history] primarily from a North American perspective but that also includes essays from Western Europe and Russia.” The provocative collection of essays edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve provides answers to questions such as, how is the experience of Deaf people similar to that of African Americans? And, how did Deaf people establish the education, employment, and social structures that would ensure the prosperity of their community? Read chapter five, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet: Benevolent Paternalism and the Origins of the American Asylum, for a closer look, and order Deaf History Unveiled.

You can read the reviews in their entirety and use your exclusive subscriber discount of 20% to order Damned for Their Difference, Illusions of Equality, A Mighty Change, and Crying Hands.


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