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9:10 Tuesday, October 30, 2007

View the American Deaf Community Through History

A Noteworthy Group of Historians Present a Remarkably Vivid Depiction of the Varied Deaf Experience in America

The Deaf History Reader presents an assembly of essays that together offer a remarkably vivid depiction of the varied Deaf experience in America. “The essays in this volume enrich our understanding of the history of the American deaf community in a variety of ways,” notes editor John Vickrey Van Cleve. “Some articles focus on the traditional subject of deaf education; yet each of these takes us beyond issues of pedagogy to address matters of wide social and historical importance to deaf people and to the societies of which they have been members. Others look at specific deaf lives situated in particular places and times. These illuminate questions about deaf agency, oppression, and constructions of deaf identity in American history. One contribution examines closely the famous—and famously disliked by many deaf Americans—Alexander Graham Bell and places him in a new relation to the deaf community. Finally, two of the essays use intensive examinations of local deaf organizations, informed by documents scholars have not examined previously, to challenge traditional interpretations of American deaf history. They argue forcefully that historians need to broaden their research agendas and pay greater attention to what deaf people were doing at the local level. Together, these articles provide evidence, interpretations, and arguments about deaf history that encourage a reexamination of assumptions about deaf experiences in American history.”

Read more about this rich history in chapter one, Genesis of a Community: The American Deaf Experience in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Order The Deaf History Reader online and receive 20% off the regular price by typing “OCT0720%” in the “Comments or Special Instructions” box below your credit card information. Or, you may order by mail.


“Work on language contact in Deaf communities has focused almost exclusively on the outcomes of contact between spoken and written majority languages and sign languages,” explains Ceil Lucas, the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series editor. Although this work has been very valuable, what has always been lacking is data-based research on the outcomes of contact between natural sign languages, the kind of research that Sign Languages in Contact, the 13th volume in the aforementioned series, brings together. Following a comprehensive and useful introduction to these issues by guest editor David Quinto-Pozos, this volume provides information on contact situations that involve sign languages of Deaf communities from New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Russia, Albania, China, Taiwan, and the United States. Lucas says, “The U.S. example is an examination of the contact between ASL and North American Indian signed languages, which demonstrates how sign languages of Deaf communities can interact with sign languages used by groups of hearing people who do not share the same spoken language. In these papers, we see parallels with spoken language contact situations but also issues unique to sign languages in contact such as iconicity, gesture, and the interlingual similarity of sign languages. It is my hope that this pioneering volume will provide a model for many more studies of sign languages in contact.”

Read the introduction, and order Sign Languages in Contact at a 20% savings. For online orders, type “OCT0720%” in the “Comments or Special Instructions” box below your credit card information. You may also order by mail.


Publishers Weekly praised Christopher Heuer’s BUG: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution in a recent review: “A lot of things bug Heuer, not least the insensitivity of the hearing and the narrow-mindedness of many in the deaf—or is it Deaf—community. The small ‘d’/capital ‘D’ question is not a small matter; Heuer uses them to differentiate between those who have a hearing impairment and people who define themselves as part of a deaf culture with its own language (American Sign) and traditions. Heuer was born with impaired hearing but suffered continuing hearing loss throughout his childhood, becoming almost entirely deaf early on. An English teacher at Gallaudet, a Washington, D.C. university for the deaf, Heuer proves an intriguing, dynamic guide: though he learned to speak as a young child, he now chooses to sign; though he identifies strongly with the Deaf Pride movement, he deplores its insularity. Collecting 116 opinion pieces—most from The Tactile Mind Weekly, some from the National Association of the Blind website, a few new—Heuer proves angry, lively and convincing whether discussing the complacency of the Deaf toward illiteracy in their ranks, or the failure of hearing parents to learn sign when their hearing impaired children are young. Despite his serious intent, Heuer is always entertaining, and his insights into discrimination and ‘the soft prejudice’ have a powerful reach.” Read the introduction, On Small Things Easily Squished (and Alternative Destinies), and order BUG now.


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