National ASL Literature Conference collection
Scope and Contents
The National ASL Literature Conference collection contains programs, schedules, clippings and DVD's related to the First National American Sign Language (ASL) Literature Conference held at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in October 1991. Also included is a Peter Cook Interview on the Hydrogen Jukebox Parts 1 and 2, and a copy of the program book. The following are abstracts of three presentations given at this conference in 1991 and have been digitized for viewing:
In "African American Sign Language in Visual Theatre", Michelle Banks shows a videotape of a performance in African American Sign Language. Following the video, she leads a group discussion focusing on how to use African American Sign Language in theatre and the importance of preserving Black Sign Language or African American Sign Language and Black Deaf culture.
In the film "What is ASL Literature, Anyway?", Dr. Barbara Kannapel moderates a lively panel discussion of the definition of literature. Different viewpoints are offered-for example, Bonnie suggests a framework of two strands of literature-Deaf Literature (written format) and Sign Language Literature with subcategories within each. Gil Eastman describes two different types of theatre or drama such as Theatre of the Deaf/Theatre for the Deaf, which differ in performer composition and audience. Clayton Valli believes this construct doesn't work for poetry, as it plays with language, and prefers the term ASL poetry; not poetry of/for the Deaf. Lynn Jacobowitz describes her experience writing plays and would like to create Deaf-centered ASL plays that reflects the Deaf experience. She will be videotaping kindergarten Deaf children signing stories to expose them to ASL literature. Sam Supalla explains that Deaf literature and ASL literature are two separate bodies of work and are taught as separate classes. The problem with the term Deaf literature is it doesn't give equal weight to Sign Language literature and is missing that part. There is some discussion of Black Literature, African American Studies, Women's Studies, Native American Studies and whether these constructs fit the Deaf community's definition. Valli suggests looking into these programs to see if their rubrics could be adapted. Bernard Bragg then suggests using a big 'D' Deaf Literature and Sign Language Studies. He agrees with Bonnie that focusing on ASL literature is too limiting--doesn't take into account Deaf culture, history, beliefs, etc. Sam suggests the categories Deaf Studies and Sign Language Studies with subcategories of literature under each. At the end, all agreed more discussion on these concepts is needed to further clarify the distinctions of literature.
After answering questions related to his previous night’s performance of "The Deaf Mute Howls," Bruce Hlibok shares his experiences working with oral Deaf teenagers in NYC. Hlibok worked in a mainstream program encouraging the students to tell their stories. These writings were later developed into a play Deaf Watch: Silence! For most of this session, Hlibok shares the writing and stories created by the students he worked with. Simon Carmel describes ASL and number stories in Deaf Folktales, starting at 49:37.
In Lois Bragg's presentation, "ASL Literature's Cultural Milieu: Audience Expectations and Participation," Bragg examines one of the key features of ASL literature: the interaction between the audience and performer.
- Valli, Clayton (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to researchers.
Biographical / Historical
The National ASL Literature Conference was held at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. on October 10-13, 1991. It was co-chaired by Laurie Brewer, Kenny Lerner, Karen Christie and Patti Durr. The conference featured several performers and presenters, including Jim Cohn, Bonnie Kay Kramer, Ben Bahan, Bruce Hlibok, Lois Bragg (Edna Sayers), Simon Carmel, Michele Banks, and Bernard Bragg.
The collection contains programs, schedules, clippings and DVDs containing films documenting speakers at the First National American Sign Language (ASL) Literature Conference held at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in October 1991.
Collection materials are arranged by type.
C.S. Mid-range, Shelf 419 in RIT/NTID DSA Ephemera box
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession number(s): 2014:029; 2014:027
Finding aid created by Lisa Witt in February 2014.
- African Americans -- History
- American Sign Language
- Deaf -- Education (Higher) -- New York (State) -- Rochester
- Deaf -- Education -- Congresses
- Deaf -- Means of communication -- Congresses
- Deaf -- New York (State) -- Rochester
- Deaf, writings of the
- Deafness -- Literary collections
- Literature -- Societies, etc. -- New York (State) -- Rochester
- National ASL Literature Conference
- National Technical Institute for the Deaf
- Programs (documents)
- National ASL Literature Conference collection
- RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive
- Lisa Witt
- 20 February 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note