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Litteratursamtal i kontaktzonen: Praktik, identitet och språk i en teckenspråkig bokcirkel
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of ALM.
2019 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Literature discussions in the contact zone : Practice, identity and language in a reading group in sign language (English)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this master’s thesis was to study literacy practices in a reading group of nine women discussing fiction in Swedish sign language. The following research questions were examined: What patterns of action have taken form in this practice and what meaning is attributed to these patterns? How can this reading group be understood in the light of Päivi Fredäng’s research on identity and cultural changes in the Swedish Deaf world? How do the participants handle using two different languages and modalities during the discussions, and to what extent can this be understood using Mary Louise Pratts concept contact zone? Finally, the last question aims to explore the reasons behind the very scarce number of reading groups in Sweden discussing fiction in sign language.

An ethnographic study was conducted through one participant observation and three semi-structured interviews face to face recorded on camera, one email interview and one recorded phone interview. The interviews in sign language were translated into written Swedish.

What Peplow terms a ‘mimetic’ reading practice was the most dominant way of discussing literature, whereas thematic or synthetic reading practices were less frequent.  The participants found that the reading group broadened their reading habits and that the discussions sometimes had bibliotherapeutic elements. They often discussed issues related to the oppression of women whereas questions related to Deaf people and sign language were not often discussed. The reading group could be understood in the light of the changes that the Swedish Deaf world, and society at large have gone through over the last decades. The collective Deaf identity is more frequently based on shared values concerning sign language rather than ideological standpoints. More individualized perspectives and interest-based networks based on sign language become more common. This falls under what Fredäng describes as co-culture where deafness loses its superior position in the identity.

The participants’ audiological and linguistic backgrounds were diverse, only around half of them had Swedish sign language as their first language. The literacy practices were to a great extent influenced by the diversity concerning the participants’ backgrounds. Some of the informants said that one main reason for joining was to improve their skills in sign language. To others, the reading group seemed to strengthen their skills in written Swedish. One aspect of the literacy practices of this reading group was language preservation, where the participants helped each other to a more ‘pure’ sign language.

Using the theoretical framework developed in New Literacy Studies, the lack of reading groups discussing fiction in sign language could be understood as a result of the literacy practices used in the Swedish Deaf education system that followed the Milan Conference that took place in 1880. The conference led to the banning of sign language in favour of oral methods. Contemporary literacy practices in the Swedish Deaf world can be traced back to these practices in the education system. Further research is needed to study literacy practices among Deaf people in Sweden, for example among younger generations that have taken part of a bi-lingual education. This is a two years master’s thesis in Library and Information Science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 67
Series
Uppsatser inom biblioteks- & informationsvetenskap, ISSN 1650-4267 ; 772
Keywords [en]
Sign language, Group reading, Ethnography, Deaf culture, Literacy practice
Keywords [sv]
teckenspråk, läsecirklar, etnografi, dövkultur, litteracitetspraktik
National Category
Cultural Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-388454OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-388454DiVA, id: diva2:1333213
Subject / course
Library and Information Science
Educational program
Master Programme in ALM
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-07-06 Created: 2019-06-30 Last updated: 2019-07-06Bibliographically approved

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