History of the American Deaf Community
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.