SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 97

Is Silence Music to the Eye? Egbert categories. None of this was “new” to the Deaf community, but rather, these arts were woven into the fabric of ASL and Deaf culture, merely waiting to be explored. To date, scholars in the field have described a foundation of Deaf Studies by noting aspects of storytelling, poetry, linguistics, and cultural studies. Researchers have since catapulted into a variety of further investigations within Deaf Studies. Researchers examining the layers of language and culture can observe the vibrant complexities and discern differences that once were not identified. Bahan’s (2006) publication on the topic of storytelling serves as an excellent example. It has been noted that Deaf Studies has always examined storytelling. Scholars now more closely analyze storytelling and note that there are, in fact, different types of storytelling in ASL. Recently, it was determined that the umbrella label of storytelling is just the face of an art that needs further study. As a result of Bahan’s (2006) work, ASL storytelling is recognized as having many genres, including narratives, cinematographic stories, folktales and more, not merely the traditional conceptualization of storytelling. Bahan’s publication updates William Stokoe’s research from the 1950s and 60s. Had Bahan simply accepted the traditional “storytelling” model, the research community would not see the gestalt and complexity of the art of storytelling. Storytelling is one example of how the study of Deaf cultural arts is expanding. The evening performance of Signed Music: A Symphonious Odyssey was a professional encounter that provided the audience with a reminder that our field is in its infancy. There is much to absorb and investigate as researchers in Deaf Studies. Just as our sister disciplines of history, psychology, and anthropology, while significantly more established research areas than Deaf Studies, are still making inroads in their domains, so is Deaf Studies. This performance also provided an opportunity to encounter Deaf Studies through various perspectives and to examine a framework through which experts explore our own language and culture. Signed music, by its very name, raises numerous questions. What is it, exactly? Who is employing signed music? Is signed music a production by and for the Deaf community, or is the hearing community capitalizing on a trend? Clarifying on what signed music is, a group of scholars defined it as: “…wholly autonomous from the auditory experience. While it is pleasing to the eyes, just as conventional music pleases the ears, it has parameters that are completely different from musical forms hearing audiences are used to, such as audible pitch. Specifically, a high-quality music performance (without words) includes handshape variations along with unique movements like circles, motioning up-and-down, back-and-forth, or to-and-fro representing possible notes. Some performances also include lyrics or “words” in ASL.” (J. H. Cripps, Rosenblum, Small, & Supalla, 2017 p. 4) In what ways is Deaf culture embedded, woven, and interlaced in signed music? Is signed music some type of audism mask? Audism is frequently defined as the oppressing view of ability to hear over inability to hear as well as the view of the superiority of spoken language over signed language (Bauman, 1994; J. H. Cripps & Supalla, 2012; Eckert & Rowley, 2008). Is our lens colored by dysconscious audists? (See Gertz, 2008 for the concept of this type of audism). Are Deaf Studies scholars paying attention to the crab (theory) network of Deaf community members who cannot acknowledge sound research in the field, much less that the research is valid? Does the word “music” itself insert some sort of logophobia into the Deaf community? If the construct did not utilize the word “music,” might it be more readily accepted? SASLJ, Vol. 1, No.1 – Fall/Winter 2017 97