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American Annals of the Deaf

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Signs and Voices
Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts

Kristin A. Lindgren, Doreen DeLuca, and Donna Jo Napoli, Editors

Now in Paperback!

View the table of contents.
View the contents of the DVD.
View the list of contributors.
Read chapter four.
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From the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Although some of the chapters in this book are a bit challenging for the naive reader, the information is extremely interesting for a variety of experienced professionals who work with deaf people. And many of these chapters could stand alone as excellent readings for linguistics, translation, Deaf culture, Deaf education, or advanced American Sign Language (ASL) courses. This volume offers us a place to revisit, expand, and update our knowledge. There are new perspectives on old ideas of culture and identity, thorough explanations of the language, and in-depth analyses of artistic expressions. This book is a result of a conference at Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr Colleges in November 2004 and makes the information from that time accessible to all of us.

Part I—Culture and Identity gives readers a view of current perspectives that are as diverse and as wide ranging as the individuals in the community. Deaf culture is now recognized as such not because of hearing people but because deaf people have embraced it. This ties in quite nicely with a sophisticated look at the evolution of the Deaf identity, more than the simplistic “between two worlds” label we so often used. This theme continues with an account of how a “history through deaf eyes” exhibit expanded to include what deaf people wanted—a view of themselves as individuals rather than as group to be examined. A timely ethical analysis of bioethics and the Deaf community is, apparently, the first anyone has even considered this approach, but I do hope that the discussion continues.

Part II—Language and Literacy includes both intense linguistic analysis and practical chapters on literacy. It contains a broad overview of what we currently know about the languages deaf people use around the world. There is new research on the emergence of childhood Nicaraguan Sign Language, and there is an excellent discussion of the often-used particle “WHAT.” Practicality is offered in a straightforward discussion of successful approaches to educating deaf children, activities that explain how to isolate subtasks to help deaf children learn to read, and support for the use of natural sign languages in early education (this must be said again and again . . . until we do it).

Signed poetry is “uniquely a matter of space,” and Part III—American Sign Language in the Arts does present a sophisticated exploration of space. Readers are presented with a phenomenological theory of spatial form in ASL literature, expert analyses of poems, Shakespeare in ASL, and transcripts of e-mail conversation that give us insight into the creative process and the work of the masters Clayton Valli, Patrick Graybill, Peter Cook, and Kenny Lerner.

And finally, the treat—this book comes with an excellent DVD. We can see the gestures in Nicaraguan Sign Language, the emotional ASL poems, and the exhilarating scenes from Shakespeare translated into ASL discussed in the text. Given the state of technology in today’s world, this should no longer be a “treat” for readers but, rather, de rigueur for any text spotlighting ASL.

Kristin A. Lindgren is Director of the Writing Center and Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Biography at Haverford College, Haverford, PA.

Doreen DeLuca is an RID Certified Interpreter who works in the Philadelphia, PA, and Washington, DC, areas.

Donna Jo Napoli is Professor of Linguistics, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA.

ISBN 978-1-56368-575-0, 7 x 10 paperback with DVD, 268 pages, figures, photographs, references, index


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