Skip to main content

Line/shot/montages: cinematic techniques in ASL poetry

 Digital Work
Identifier: ds_0049_baumancinematic_cap_01.mp4


  • Creation: 2000



Dr. Bauman presents on how he discovered his identity as a 'hearing' person and how he discovered ASL poetry when he was a dorm supervisor at Colorado School for the Deaf. He recognizes the impact that Dr. Stokoe made by developing a framework to recognize ASL as a language which was like an 'earthquake', shifting our perspective on ASL. Dr. Bauman discusses traditional analysis of spoken and written poetry, and uses Tyger, Tyger as an example of the rhythm structure and rhymes. Dr. Valli researched ASL poetry and discovered many types of rhymes by applying the traditional analysis of spoken and written poetry to ASL poetry. The Snowflake poem by Valli is analyzed by Dr. Bauman and he points out the rhyme patterns of the handshape, movement path, location, palm orientation, and non-manual signals. Dr. Bauman believes that the analysis for spoken and written poetry does not work for ASL poetry, a there are no 'lines' as there are in spoken and written poetry. He suggests using film language, similar to sign language, (Stokoe noted this in 1979) as a way to analyze ASL poetry. Sign language plays with space and employs many film techniques such as close-up, medium and long shots, having a frame, using the camera angle, and using slo-mo or fast motion signs. The Lone, Study Tree (by Valli), and Missing Children (by Rennie) ASL poems are analyzed using this cinema language framework. The poet-performer is in a unique position of simultaneously being the film-maker, screenwriter, text editor, camera operator and actor when performing an ASL poem. New technologies, such as morphing might influence future ASL poetry creative expression. He ends the presentation by stating we need to recognize the cinematic properties of ASL poetry which would lead to a richer analysis of such works.


183.03 Megabytes (mp4)


Sign Languages


General Note

This material was digitized as part of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant: "Sculptures in the Air: An Accessible Online Video Repository of the American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry and Literature Collections at the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive (RIT/NTID DSA) in Rochester, NY." Original VHS recordings were transferred to mp4 format, captioned, and voiced, by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Production Services department.

Processing Information

Dr. Joan Naturale, NTID Librarian, provided accurate sign language transcriptions of this video; voicing from ASL into English was provided by Miriam Lerner, performing arts interpreter. Dr. Naturale also prepared the description, abstract, and notes.

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA