Monday, June 28, 2004
The Peculiar Misfortune
How the Deaf Elite Lived in the Old South
From Pity to
Pride: Growing Up Deaf in the Old South is the latest release from Gallaudet
University Press. In it, Hannah Joyner depicts the
history of young, wealthy men in the 19th-century South who were barred from
high posts because they were deaf. These young Deaf men formed their own
societies that, after the Civil War, included deaf northerners. Chapter one, "The
Peculiar Misfortune," starts with "In the antebellum American South, the
inability to hear was seen by most of society as a great calamity. Southerners
did not understand why some people were Deaf, but they sought an explanation in
their larger worldview: either 'nature and her caprice' or 'God in His wisdom'
had denied the sense of hearing to individuals. Many Americans felt that Deaf
people were suffering greatly from their condition. The life of 'the poor mute'
was the 'peculiar misfortune' of the 'most unfortunate class of our fellow
creatures.' Hearing southerners concluded the 'the condition of the uneducated
deaf and dumb [was] lamentable beyond degree.'"
Steven M. Stowe, Associate Professor, History Department at Indiana University
and Associate Editor, Journal of American History, praises From Pity to Pride
saying, "This is a book of striking portraits and compelling new history,
certain to set a high standard in the fast growing field of disability history
and a must-read for students of the South in general."
In this unique and fascinating history, Hannah Joyner depicts in striking detail
the circumstances of these so-called victims of this "misfortune" and
makes it clear that Deaf people in the North also endured prejudice. She also
explains how the cultural rhetoric of paternalism and dependency in the South
codified a stringent system of oppression and hierarchy that left little room
for self-determination for Deaf southerners. Read more of this historical
account in chapter seven,
"With the Eyes to
Hear and the Hands to Speak", and
From Pity to Pride at a savings of 20% off the regular price.
published by Cambridge University Press, recently extolled
Hand: Why Sign Came Before Speech, authored by the late William C. Stokoe,
known as the father of the linguistics of American Sign Language (ASL).
A portion of the journal's review reads "[Stokoe], Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet
University in Washington, DC, died on April 4, 2000, aged eighty. When he moved
to Gallaudet in 1955 to teach English to deaf students, he found that the
faculty viewed the signing used by students merely as a limited set of gestures.
Stokoe convinced himself that, rather, these signs constituted a fully formed
language, what is now known as ASL....Language in Hand is written in a
style that will be accessible to a wide non-specialist audience, yet is
well-equipped with references to the scholarly literature." Read more about Stokoe's argument that signed language predates spoken language in his
order Language in Hand.
by CHOICE magazine for inclusion in its 39th annual Outstanding Academic
Cochlear Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices also received considerable attention in a
recent issue of the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. The
reviewer notes, "Cochlear Implants in Children is a well-balanced and
comprehensive book and is therefore a particularly valuable addition to the
literature on this topic...highly recommend[ed] for teachers, parents, and others." Click
here to read
the complete review. In Cochlear Implants in Children, authors John B.
Christiansen and Irene W. Leigh address the current state of the new technology
and provide observations and recommendations for the parents of deaf children as
well as the professionals who work with them. To find out more about this title,
read chapter five, The Cochlear
Implant Center, Surgery, and Short-Term Post-Implant Outcomes, and
order Cochlear Implants in Children.
Gallaudet University Press Institute will host the Narrating Deaf Lives:
Biography, Autobiography, and Documentary Conference in the late
fall. Stay tuned for more details.
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