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Resources: Abstracts of American Studies Dissertations

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Kelly, Arlene Blumenthal. "How Deaf Women Construct Teaching, Language, Culture, and Gender: An Ethnographic Study of ASL Teachers," American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, April 2001.

This ethnographic dissertation studies five Deaf women who teach American Sign Language (ASL), exploring the intersections of teaching, language and culture, and gender as perceived by these women. It examines how Deaf women bridge dominant mainstream culture and Deaf culture through teaching ASL and Deaf Culture. It also inquires how these women construct language, culture, and gender as ASL teachers and through their personal lives. These issues were explored through three videotaped interviews with each informant, capped by two rounds of videotaped participant-observations in the women’s ASL classes. This approach produced insights into their teaching practices, attitudes and beliefs leading up to their constructions about teaching, language, culture, and gender. Analysis of the materials collected demonstrates that these five women identify themselves as primarily Deaf with concern about gender as secondary. Although they expressed some resistance towards the dominant mainstream American culture, they clearly value their careers as teachers of ASL and Deaf Culture to mostly hearing learners, bridging the two worlds. This dissertation shows how their unique experience as Deaf individuals reflect their lives as mothers, daughters, students, and partners in social relationships, and how their roles are similar and dissimilar. Their lived experiences as Deaf women affect how they teach, how they perceive hearing people, and how they understand language, culture, and gender.