Inside Fordham today published an article profiling Fordham English faculty member Rebecca Sanchez's new book from NYU Press, Deafening Modernism: Embodied Language and Visual Poetics in American Literature. In her book, Sanchez, says, “I wanted to make good on the claims that disability studies has always been making....to think about the relationship between bodies and language, but where there’s no obviously disabled character as the subject.”
Deafening Modernism treats modernist poetry by Hart Crane, short stories by Sherwood Anderson, films by Charlie Chaplin, and others. Sanchez locates these texts' experiments with language and communication in relation to contemporaneous panics in the U.S., anxiety over "the fact that we had such a heterogenous citizenry." "There was a desire," she argues, "for a language that a lot of people were calling 'American.' The language had to be standardized and people's bodies had to look a certain way." In contrast, a film like Chaplin's Modern Times argues "that you don’t have to speak or communicate normatively to tell a story that you can do with your body,” she said. “There are other ways to pass information, and that was hugely relevant to what was going on in deaf education at the time, where people argued that you have to learn to speak.”
For a fuller account of Professor Sanchez's compelling argument in Deafening Modernism, read the article by Tom Stoelker in Inside Fordham.