my abstract

Erika Hoffmann erhoffma at OBERLIN.EDU
Thu Oct 28 00:17:42 UTC 2010

Circulating the Signing Body: An emerging, transnational Deaf literacy
through SignWriting

By the way, here's an abstract of what I plan to present about in South Africa:

Though sign languages have traditionally been unwritten, small groups
of Deaf and hearing signers from over 30 countries have begun to write
their sign languages using a script called Sutton SignWriting (SSW).
Originally derived from dance notation, SSW allows signers to
iconically represent the moving body through a flexible system that
can be easily adapted to accommodate different sign
languages.SignWriters from a range of countries regularly post and
compare SSW texts on an email listserve. Applying a new script to
these previously unwritten languages brings meta-linguistic awareness
into sharp relief; SignWriters also use this forum to discuss the
insights their writing has given them about their particular sign
language, sign languages in general, and the social consequences of
this new form of literacy. This paper argues that the circulation and
discussion of these texts both reflects and contributes to an emerging
transnational signing network, while at the same time relationally
shaping and reinforcing the local identities of particular sign
languages and signing communities. The simultaneous processes of
transnational network formation and local differentiation are
heightened by the unique ways in which SSW texts import the bodies of
signers from far removed locations into the shared space of the
internet. However, the process described in this paper are not limited
to signing communities, but provide broader insight into the ways that
the body (or its absence) are involved in the constitution of
transnational text-based social networks.

Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Oberlin College

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