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Deaf Film Festival

Sunday, February 23, 2003

An Illustrated Lecture by John S. Schuchman

John S. Schuchman is the author of Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry (University of Illinois Press, 1988). He is Emeritus Professor from the History Department of Gallaudet University and recently edited, with Donna F. Ryan, Deaf People in Hitler's Europe.

Many people have never met a deaf person. And even if they have, understanding is often thwarted by communication barriers. Given that, we often look to the media to provide insights into what it means to be deaf in the world. Though the first filmed depiction of a deaf person goes back to 1902, followed by hundreds of subsequent instances, the media has done little to transmit more than stereotypical views of deafness. From Martyrs of the Alamo (1915) with Silent Smith to Cop Land (1997) with deaf Sheriff Freddy Heflin, allowing for a stop-off at Children of a Lesser God (1986), the cavalcade of clich├ęs has been persistent. There is the dummy, the perfect speaker, the expert lip-reader, the fake, and the unhappy hearing impaired. John Schuchman will look at this history, which includes television, and challenge the stereotypes in a context that aligns Deaf culture with other marginalized groups.

Please note: In ASL with simultaneous spoken translation through wireless headphones