February 17, 2012 — A little-recognized group in American society will be the focus of writer John Lee Clark's talk on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in Nau Hall auditorium at the University of Virginia, part of the annual American Sign Language/Deaf Culture Lecture series.
A second-generation deaf-blind person, Clark will give a lecture, free and open to the public, on "Writing from the Margins: Deaf-Blind People in North America, 1850 to the Present." He will communicate in American Sign Language with English voice interpretation.
Associate professor of English Christopher Krentz, who directs the American Sign Language program in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he believes the event will be the first presentation ever by a deaf-blind person at U.Va., telling the story of the deaf-blind community.
Clark's research shows how a few deaf-blind people in the mid-19th century built a network of correspondents, forming a "virtual" place of their own that remains today the community's most vital space.
"Meanwhile, actual deaf-blind experience – how and where deaf-blind people live, whom they marry, what they do for a living – has gone through big shifts in some locales while in others little has changed," Krentz said. "Clark will consider why this group has been largely overlooked and what this neglect reveals about deaf-blind people's place in society."
Among other projects, Clark is working on an international collection of deaf-blind writing from 1780 to the present. His work has appeared in a range of publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, McSweeney's, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Poetry magazine and The Seneca Review. He has published a collection of poems, "Suddenly Slow," by Handtype Press in 2008, and edited the anthology, "Deaf American Poetry," published by Gallaudet University Press in 2009.