Course Description

United States History

HIUS 3081

History of the American Deaf Community

Fall 2015

Examines the history of deaf people in the United States over the last three centuries, with particular attention to the emergence and evolution of a community of Deaf people who share a distinct sign language and culture. We will read both primary texts from specific periods (by writers like Laurent Clerc and Alexander Graham Bell) and secondary sources (such as R.A.R. Edwards' _Word Made Flesh_ and Carol Padden and Tom Humphries’ _Inside Deaf Culture_). We will also view a few historical films. Among other topics, we will consider how hearing society has treated deaf people and the reasons for this treatment; how deaf people have explained and advocated for themselves; how the deaf community complicates our understanding of linguistic and ethnic minorities and of disabled people in history of the United States; the impact of technology; and what changing constructions of deafness reveal about the history of American culture in general. While students can expect some lecture, the class will also feature discussion and small-group activities.  Requirements will include two papers (four and seven pages), quizzes, a final exam, and active, informed participation. The class will be taught in spoken English with a sign language interpreter.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts