PhD Abstract Dr Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe)

Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe)

Congratulations to CIRCL PhD student Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe) for completing her PhD and viva on 16-03-2006 with her thesis on  ‘Signs, Text, Truth: Constructions of Deafness’ (Supervisor: Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein. Viva External examiner: Dr Tess Cosslett, Lancaster University, Internal examiner: Dr John Holmes)!

(Abstract of thesis)

This thesis takes as its starting point the belief that deafness is a construction as well as an identity. My aim is to break open monolithic constructions of deafness that essentialise deafness, in literature, criticism and educational texts. I begin by comparing the medical and cultural models of deafness and the constructions of ”deaf” and ”Deaf” and I argue that deafness and d/Deaf people are produced as ”other” in relation to hearingness. I follow Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology in my critique of Jonathon Ree’s philosophical history of deafness I See a Voice and I use Derridean theory to question oppositions in the criticism between Sign and writing. I critique Elisabeth Gitter’s treatment of ”deaf-mute” heroines in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and this leads me to question notions of history and representation, in which I make use of Harlan Lane’s When the Mind Hears and Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation.

In looking at the relationships between deafness and literature I explore the sensation fiction of the nineteenth century, particularly Wilkie Collins’s Hide and Seek. I also analyse the critical treatment of the famous nineteenth century deaf-blind women, Laura Bridgman and Helen Keller, as well as the d/Deaf biblical scholar John Kitto. In these close readings I am concerned with notions of silence and the voice, particularly in relation to freedom and representation. I engage with the problem of the real and authenticity and I argue that the construction of deafness is produced through assumptions about language and what it means to be human. I end by arguing that in order to move towards greater equality hierarchical divisions between voice and Sign and between ability and disability must be deconstructed.

Students' Views

M(Res) in Children’s Literature student 2017-18 wins prize!

CIRCL are delighted to announce that our current M(Res) in Children’s Literature student Kristy Keller has won second prize in the ‘First Pages’ category at the Swedish ‘Stockholm Writer’s Festival’ with her children’s detective novel Harper Holloway and the Disappearance of Arabella Sent  Many congratulations, Kristy!