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Author Baynton, Douglas C.
Title Forbidden signs : American culture and the campaign against sign language / Douglas C. Baynton.
Imprint Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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Author Baynton, Douglas C.
Subject Deaf -- Means of communication -- United States -- History.
Sign language -- Study and teaching -- United States -- History.
Deaf -- United States -- Social conditions.
Description 1 online resource (xi, 228 pages) : illustrations
polychrome rdacc
Bibliography Note Includes bibliographical references (pages 164-215) and index.
Contents 1. Foreigners in Their Own Land: Community -- 2. Savages and Deaf Mutes: Species and Race -- 3. Without Voices: Gender -- 4. From Refinement to Efficiency: Culture -- 5. The Natural Language of Signs: Nature -- 6. The Unnatural Language of Signs: Normality -- Epilogue: The Trap of Paternalism.
Summary Forbidden Signs explores American culture from the mid-nineteenth century to 1920 through the lens of one striking episode: the campaign led by Alexander Graham Bell and other prominent Americans to suppress the use of sign language among deaf people. The metaphors and images used to describe the deaf - outsiders; beings of silence, innocence, and mystery; users of a language alternately seen as ancient and noble or primitive and animal-like - offer a unique perspective for examining American thought and culture.
The debate over sign language invoked such fundamental questions as what distinguished Americans from non-Americans, civilized people from "savages," humans from animals, men from women, the natural from the unnatural, and the normal from the abnormal. An advocate of the return to sign language, Baynton finds that although the grounds of the debate have shifted, educators still base decisions on many of the same metaphors and images that led to the misguided efforts to eradicate sign language. Ending with a discussion of recent changes in the images of deafness and sign language and a critique of the current state of deaf education, Forbidden Signs will benefit historians and those interested in the study of gesture and human movement, disability, sign language, and the American deaf community.
Note Print version record.
ISBN 9780226039688 (electronic bk.)
0226039684 (electronic bk.)
OCLC # 710995101
Additional Format Print version: Baynton, Douglas C. Forbidden signs. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1996 0226039633 (DLC) 96012889 (OCoLC)34412303