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Signing the Body Poetic

Essays on American Sign Language Literature

Dirksen Bauman (Editor), Heidi Rose (Editor), Jennifer Nelson (Editor), William Stokoe (Foreword), W.J.T. Mitchell (Preface)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 292 pages
ISBN: 9780520229761
December 2006
$34.95, £28.00
Other Formats Available:
This unique collection of essays, accompanied by a pioneering DVD, at last brings a dazzling view of the literary, social, and performative aspects of American Sign Language to a wide audience. The book presents the work of a renowned and diverse group of deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing scholars who examine original ASL poetry, narrative, and drama. The DVD showcases the poems and narratives under discussion in their original form, providing access to them for hearing non-signers for the first time. Together, the book and DVD provide new insight into the history, culture, and creative achievements of the deaf community while expanding the scope of the visual and performing arts, literary criticism, and comparative literature.
Contents of the DVD
Foreword—William C. Stokoe
Preface: Utopian Gestures—W.J.T. Mitchell
Users' Guide

1. Introduction
H-Dirksen L. Bauman, Jennifer L. Nelson, Heidi M. Rose

2. Face-to-Face Tradition in the American Deaf Community: Dynamics of the Teller, the Tale, and the Audience—Ben Bahan
3. The Camera as Printing Press: How Film Has Influenced ASL Literature—Christopher B. Krentz
4. Deaf American Theater—Cynthia Peters

5. Getting out of Line: Toward a Visual and Cinematic Poetics of ASL—H-Dirksen L. Bauman
6. Textual Bodies, Bodily Texts—Jennifer L. Nelson
7. The Poet in the Poem in the Performance: The Relation of Body, Self, and Text in ASL Literature—Heidi M. Rose
8. ASL Literature Comes of Age: Creative "Writing" in the Classroom—Liz Wolter

9. "If there are Greek epics, there should be Deaf epics": How Protest Became Poetry—Kristen C. Harmon
10. Visual Screaming: Willy Conley’s Deaf Theater and Charlie Chaplin’s Silent Cinema—Carol L. Robinson
11. Hearing Things: The Scandal of Speech in Deaf Performance—Michael Davidson

Carol A. Padden
Appendix A: Time Line of ASL Literature Development
Appendix B: ASL Video References
H-Dirksen L. Bauman is Professor in the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University. Jennifer L. Nelson is Professor in the Department of English at Gallaudet University. Heidi M. Rose is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Villanova University.
“An exhilarating bilingual (ASL/English) reading/viewing experience.”—Choice
“This is a startlingly original collection, challenging readers to think well beyond normative contours of the literary text toward a living art of the embodied sign. A significant contribution to literary, performance, and Deaf culture studies, Signing the Body Poetic will make us all see differently.”—Della Pollock, editor of Remembering: Oral History Performance

Signing the Body Poetic is both a book and an event—a long-anticipated work that questions and recasts some of our most embedded definitions of poetry and other language arts. The work of several generations of signing poets has made a place for gesture that eliminates once and for all the hegemony of the spoken word as the single determinant of poetry and language performance. That is the accomplishment analyzed and celebrated in these pages and in the accompanying DVD that clearly shows the work at hand.”—Jerome Rothenberg, coeditor of Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry

Signing the Body Poetic is the first major scholarly work to celebrate and theorize American Sign Language artistic expression, ranging from poetry to theater and film. A must for anyone interested in contemporary poetry, drama, or literary theory.”—Lennard J. Davis, editor of The Disability Studies Reader

Signing the Body Poetic brings new and productive dimensions to the phrase ‘body of literature.’ This impressive collection details the aesthetics, the epistemological importance, and the cultural life of American Sign Language literature in clear, accessible prose. Close analyses of key texts in/as performances are enhanced by the accompanying DVD, itself an invaluable resource. This collection will be useful for scholars and general readers interested in the complexities of literary production and reception.”—Judith Hamera, author of Opening Acts and editor of The Sage Handbook of Performance Studies

“This collection is as unique as ASL, merging linguistics, nonverbal communication, and performance both in the content of the chapters and in its form (text and DVD). Unlocking the performative dimension of ASL, it merges disciplines, communicative forms, and channels while demonstrating that our ability to communicate is not limited by the organs we use to do so but only by our ability to perform.”—Michael L. Hecht, coeditor of Redefining Culture: Perspectives across the Disciplines

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