What does it mean to be a deaf or hard-of-hearing child in the modern world? This is often portrayed in media such as literature and film.
Children, Deafness, and Deaf Cultures in Popular Media is a collection of critical essays exploring how creative works depict these children. Edited by Emeritus Professor John Stephens, the collection includes contributions from Dr Jessica Kirkness, Dr Sung-Ae Lee and Nerida Wayland from Macquarie as well as 14 other academics.
The contributors analyse numerous themes throughout the collection of essays including stigmas, friendship, discrimination and self-identity, among other important areas of representation.
The academics consider the expressions in multimodal forms such as graphic novels and films that depict experiences from the perspective of deaf and hard of hearing children. They evaluate most of the major genres of children’s literature and film, including realistic fiction, especially young adult novels, as well as works that make use of humour and parody.
“While much creative interest has been shown in children and deafness in print and other media, scholarship has been somewhat sparse and has had to wait until 2023 and the release of Children, Deafness, and Deaf Cultures in Popular Media for the first collection of scholarly studies dedicated to the field,” says Professor Stephens.
“Deaf Studies has been dominated by the United States, which doesn’t represent deafness universally, so the collection casts a much wider net and includes studies from Asia, Australia and Europe.
“Deaf and hard-of-hearing people often perceive themselves as members of a cultural minority, and for the creative arts this may constitute a problem of representation, which contributors address: Is there an emphasis on the ‘otherness’ of deaf characters? Is representation from a hearing perspective? Do deaf characters occupy a central role and function, or are they subordinated to hearing characters? Does representation explain specific characteristics of a character’s deafness and is this grounded in an informed understanding of deafness?
“The primary aim in this collection is to explore some popular representations of deafness in print and multimodal works with a focus on children in order to understand how authors, film producers and researchers envision the phenomenon across various modes, historical periods, regions of the world, and cultural settings.”