Deafness and Deaf Culture

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Selected nonfiction books about deafness and deaf culture, including a section devoted to memoir. Created May 2010 and moved to this location July 2011.

The deaf history reader
John Vickrey Van Cleve, editor
A rich range of topics explores the variety of deaf experience in the United States, written by respected historians. The nine chapters cover topics including deaf life in the 17th and 18th centuries, the rise of deaf education, the academic integration of deaf children, and a profile of Alexandra Graham Bell and his support of both eugenics and Deaf rights.

Inside deaf culture
by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries
These two classics from this married deaf couple are among their many books about the Deaf community. Inside Deaf Culture is overview of the history of deaf culture, from sign language, to the crucial role played by schools for the deaf, deaf clubs of the 1960s, and deaf theater. Deaf in America was a ground-breaking introduction into deaf culture and history when it was published that remains relevant more than two decades later.

A journey into the deaf-world
By Harlan Lane, Robert Hoffmeister, and Ben Bahan
Written by three Deaf culture scholars—one hearing, one deaf, and one a child of deaf parents—this book seeks to answer questions about Deaf culture, the education of deaf children, and how technology can help and hurt the deaf. It combines an intellectual perspective with first-hand experience of what it means to be deaf.

For hearing people only : answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Deaf community, its culture, and the “Deaf reality”
by Matthew S. Moore and Linda Levitan ; with a foreword by Harlan Lane.
Bills itself as the “world’s most popular handbook about the Deaf community.” This site offers a sampling of some of the questions deaf people get, and the appropriate answers; the book is also available through CW/MARS.

Seeing voices : a journey into the world of the deaf
By Oliver W. Sacks
The neurologist explores all facets of the deaf world, exploring the history of how the deaf have been treated, sign language, and the linguistic and social pressures they face. Not as easy-going as some of his other books, but still an informative read.


A loss for words : the story of deafness in a family
by Lou Ann Walker
The oldest of three daughters of deaf parents in the Midwest in the 1950s, Walker’s humor, warmth, and the closeness of her family is endearing. Helpful to anyone wanting to know what it’s like to grow up with deaf parents.

Deaf like me
By Thomas S. Spradley & James P. Spradley
The story of this family’s struggle to communicate with their deaf daughter after having been told never to sign to her so that she will learn to read lips and vocalize. Illustrates the notion that the wide range of experiences by individual deaf people and their families necessitate a wide range of options.

Hands of my father : a hearing boy, his deaf parents, and the language of love
By Myron Uhlberg
A hearing child growing up in 1940s Brooklyn, Uhlberg grew up bridging the cap between sign language and the spoken word for his deaf parents. Set against a backdrop of World War II, Joe Louis, polio, and Jackie Robinson, coupled with the deep prejudice against deaf at the time, the writer’s love for his family shines.

Mean little deaf queer
By Terry Galloway
The title says it all: Growing up deaf, gay, and with bad eyesight in Texas after moving from Germany wasn’t easy for the writer. But Galloway, who follows in the tradition of Augusten Burroughs, Frank McCourt, and Mary Karr, is alternately affecting and hilarious in the telling of her story.

Train go sorry : inside a deaf world
By Leah Hager Cohen
An intimate portrait of the deaf community by the hearing daughter of the head of a school for the deaf in Queens. Part memoir, parting reporting, the writer illuminates some of the issues of the deaf as she follows the stories of two of the school’s students.

Category: Reading Lists, Biography and Memoir

Page last changed: October 01, 2012, at 05:51 PM EST.