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← Libraries, Access and ASL Literature Part 4: Emily McCully "The Making of "My Heart Glow." The Deaf Community Shares it's not so silent stories

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Showing Revision 11 created 04/26/2012 by bdickey.

  1. (Suzanne Stecker)

  2. Our next presenter is Emily McCully
  3. and she's actually going to
  4. tell us her experience
  5. of going through the process
  6. of writing her book, "My Heart Glow."
  7. She received the F. Scott Medal.
  8. Emily?
  9. (Male Interpreter)
  10. Correction of the interpretation: She was awarded the Caldecott Award for her work.
  11. (Emily McCully, voice raspy)
  12. Thank you so much.
  13. I'm going to try to be heard
  14. so that I can be interpreted.
  15. I obviously need to be interpreted today.
  16. I'm very, very happy to be here
  17. and I've learned an enormous amount
  18. in the first half of the program.
  19. I wish I had known all of the things that I heard this afternoon
  20. when I wrote this book.
  21. I am a representative of the hearing community.
  22. I tried to be a bridge
  23. between the deaf community and the hearing community
  24. in creating this story.

  25. I was just telling that unfortunately
  26. some of the reviewers of the book in the hearing community
  27. were a little confused by it.
  28. And so, I think a lot more work has to be done

  29. to make ASL and Deaf Culture
  30. understood in the hearing community.
  31. Now, the reason that I told the story
  32. of Alice Cogswell and Thomas Gallaudet
  33. is that my son told me I should do it,
  34. and I listened to him.
  35. He is a linguist. He is fluent in Japanese--works in Japanese.
  36. He speaks Russian, French, a little bit of other languages, a little Chinese.
  37. And he got interested in American Sign Language
  38. and took a course.
  39. He practices it a lot.
  40. I have to say, he goes to bars to practice it
  41. with fluent ASL people
  42. and has met very, very wonderful people that way.
  43. He's been fascinated by Deaf History,
  44. and he knew that in making children's books,
  45. I always try to find a gripping story out of history
  46. and they often have involved girls and women
  47. whose stories are little known or else I invent them sometimes.
  48. But I want to tell the stories of underdogs, basically,
  49. because I think they have the most drama.
  50. And when he told me that American Sign Language
  51. and the very first school for the deaf in this country
  52. were created because a young man met a young deaf girl,
  53. I thought well, this is it, there's got to be a great story here.
  54. And I think it is a great story.
  55. Alice Cogswell was about two--
  56. she lived in Connecticut,
  57. she was the youngest child of a wealthy family.
  58. Her father was a doctor
  59. and quite a famous man in Connecticut.
  60. When she was two, which would have been, lets see,
  61. about 1805 I think--
  62. or no, she was born in 1805--
  63. 1807, she came down with probably scarlet fever, but we're not sure,
  64. and became profoundly deaf.
  65. She recalled that when she woke up one morning,
  66. she could no longer hear the church bells.
  67. She couldn't hear the sound of--
  68. she could see a carriage draw up to the door
  69. outside her family's house
  70. and couldn't hear any of the sounds that it was making.
  71. They subjected her to radical treatment.
  72. They poured horrible substances into her ears
  73. through ear trumpets.
  74. It was very painful. Nothing could be done.
  75. Her family feared that she was doomed,
  76. that she wouldn't go to heaven when she died
  77. because they couldn't teach her about the Bible.
  78. And in those days, that's what they thought--
  79. that her soul was lost.
  80. So, they loved her and they cherished her,
  81. but they didn't know what to do.
  82. And there were no schools for the deaf.
  83. Deaf people had absolutely no way to communicate
  84. with the rest of the world.
  85. I am sure that they spoke with what was called "home sign" then.
  86. And we heard this morning about the people
  87. of Martha's Vineyard, most of whom came
  88. in the 17th Century from one part of England,
  89. where almost everybody was deaf.
  90. So this was a case of genetic deafness.
  91. And those people settled in Martha's Vineyard.
  92. They had their own sign language,
  93. and the rest of Martha's Vineyard learned it.
  94. Everybody on the island, from the late 17th Century
  95. through the early 20th Century,
  96. spoke a sign language that was developed there.
  97. And of course deaf people were considered perfectly normal
  98. unlike what was the case
  99. in the rest of the country.
  100. Alice Cogswell and her sisters and brothers
  101. used a kind of home sign, but she wasn't taught to read
  102. she wasn't taught anything else.
  103. And when Thomas Gallaudet,
  104. who was in his early 20's when he met Alice--
  105. he had cast about for what to do with his life
  106. and finally he decided to go to theological seminary.
  107. And he wanted to minister to Indian tribes,
  108. which meant that he would learn
  109. a kind of sign language because Indians did.
  110. He graduated and came home to visit his parents in Hartford.
  111. They lived next door to the Cogswells
  112. and he saw Alice one day. And he felt terribly sorry for her
  113. because she was sitting by herself
  114. while her brothers and sisters played,
  115. and she couldn't join in the games.
  116. And he thought he would see,
  117. since she looked so intelligent and appealing
  118. and of course she was aware of him

  119. because her other senses were very highly developed.
  120. And he came over to her, and the story is
  121. that he scratched the letters H-A-T on the dirt
  122. and then put his hat on top of them and her face lit up.
  123. She was already understanding
  124. what reading would lead her to.
  125. And he began working with her
  126. trying to teach her to read.
  127. And she was very, very receptive
  128. and delighted.
  129. And at this point, Dr. Cogswell thought that
  130. he must reach not only Alice, but other deaf children
  131. and found a school for them.
  132. So he asked Thomas if he would go to Europe
  133. and learn how to teach the deaf.
  134. And Thomas agreed to do this.
  135. The Cogswells raised enough money to send him
  136. to England, where he knew that there was a school
  137. in London and another one in Scotland,
  138. operated by a family called Braidwood.
  139. Gallaudet left Alice behind
  140. but first he said Alice really should go to school
  141. with her siblings.
  142. So this was arranged.
  143. The teacher at this school
  144. was named Lydia Huntley.
  145. She was later married to Mr. Sigourney.
  146. So she became Lydia Huntley Sigourney,
  147. a rather famous poetess of the day,
  148. but at this time she was a young teacher.
  149. Alice joined this little school
  150. and everybody in the school learned to fingerspell --
  151. that is, they had signs for each of the letters of the alphabet
  152. and they would painstakingly spell out words.
  153. So Alice learned a little bit more.
  154. She learned to read
  155. and she learned a little bit of history
  156. and a little bit of geography and so on,
  157. but she was not learning a language.
  158. Meanwhile in London, Thomas was having a hard time.
  159. The Braidwood family insisted on
  160. teaching deaf people to talk.
  161. There was no sign language used -- in fact, it was forbidden.
  162. The Braidwoods told Thomas that they would teach him
  163. their method, but he would have to stay in England
  164. for two years and it would cost a lot more money
  165. than they had raised for Thomas's trip.
  166. So, something wonderful happened --
  167. completely unexpected:
  168. Thomas met an Abbot from Paris
  169. and his young assistant who was deaf.
  170. And the Abbot's name was Abbé Sicard
  171. and his assistant was Laurent Clerc.
  172. And Laurent Clerc, of couse, was deaf
  173. and a fine teacher at a school in Paris
  174. where they used sign language to teach the deaf children.
  175. And Gallaudet went to Paris
  176. and was taught how to use this method,
  177. but he was getting terribly homesick
  178. and he was running out of money.
  179. So, he knew he had to go back to Hartford,
  180. but in order to teach and to start a school
  181. and teach deaf children in America,
  182. he was going to need help.
  183. So he persuaded Laurent Clerc
  184. to come with him,
  185. and this was extrordinary.
  186. Clerc had to leave his parents behind.
  187. He had to get permission to go.
  188. Fortunately, he was a very adventurous young man
  189. and had always wanted to see more of the world.
  190. So they sailed to America.
  191. It took almost two months
  192. and during that time,
  193. Gallaudet taught Clerc English
  194. and Clerc taught Gallaudet
  195. more of the signs that they were using in the school.
  196. Now, that school in Paris
  197. had adapted a kind of home sign
  198. that French children naturally--
  199. French deaf children--used with each other.
  200. The teachers at the school saw that sign language
  201. was being used by these children
  202. and they knew that it was a good method,
  203. but they thought that it needed help.
  204. They thought they needed to make it grammatical.
  205. They didn't realize that this natural sign language
  206. already had a grammar.
  207. So the kinds of misunderstandings
  208. that people have always had about ASL
  209. were there with its very founders.
  210. Thomas Gallaudet also didn't realize that
  211. home sign or methodical sign, it was called,
  212. already had a grammar.
  213. And as we heard earlier today,
  214. people didn't realize that
  215. until the 1960's, when American Sign Language
  216. was finally analyzed by linguists.
  217. It's this grammatical complexity--
  218. this whole language aspect of ASL--
  219. that is so important for hearing people to understand,
  220. and, of course, for deaf children to learn
  221. because it stimulates the language capacities
  222. of the brain.
  223. And if they learn ASL, they learn English much more easily.
  224. And, as we all know, ASL was suppressed
  225. for a long time all over the world.
  226. I believe the Milan Conference was mentioned
  227. this morning. I think that's where it happened.
  228. And so, for a long time, deaf children
  229. in their schools would sign to each other
  230. but it had to be secret.
  231. They weren't allowed to use ASL.
  232. I didn't put that in my book,
  233. but I think it's important that I knew it
  234. because it was part of the story.
  235. When you tell a story in any kind of book,
  236. you may not put everything about the story
  237. into the book, but you have to know it.
  238. And this bridge to the hearing community--
  239. that's so important;
  240. and having enough materials in libraries
  241. for deaf children is terribly important.
  242. This book, "My Heart Glow,"
  243. whose title was suggested by Harlan Lane,
  244. whose book I used in much of my research.
  245. And I contacted Harlan Lane
  246. at the suggestion of Gary Wait,
  247. who is the archivist
  248. at the School for the Deaf in Hartford--
  249. a very wonderful man who was a tremendous help to me.
  250. And he also sent word about the book
  251. out through the community--
  252. to Alice in particular,
  253. who was so good in making it known to people.
  254. Gary Wait's resources at the School for the Deaf--
  255. he has the library there,
  256. which is almost like a little museum of deaf history.
  257. It was so important to be there
  258. and see all that material.
  259. He told me that I should not include anything
  260. about the suppression of ASL--
  261. that this story, "My Heart Glow,"
  262. should be a story of triumph over nothing --
  263. of the creation of something
  264. when there had been nothing.
  265. So, armed with the materials I learned from him,
  266. with a lot of reading of what books there are
  267. about deaf history,
  268. with Harlan Lane's book in particular,
  269. I wrote this story.
  270. It was published.
  271. It was acquired by an editor, who was fired
  272. about a few weeks later.
  273. So it was shepherded through the publishing process
  274. without an advocate.
  275. It was published without any help at all
  276. by this company, that more or less ignored it.
  277. And then it was reviewed by hearing reviewers,
  278. many of whom were confused
  279. by the syntax in Alice's letters,
  280. and I had read Alice's letters at Hartford,
  281. so I knew that the syntax was the product of her mind--
  282. of the way she was thinking.
  283. They didn't understand that,
  284. even though I said so in the author's note.
  285. So there was some confusion, which was unfortunate.
  286. And I was so, so gratified--so happy--when I learned
  287. that the deaf community embraced the book.
  288. And not only that--after it had gone out of print,

  289. I heard from ASL Tales that they wanted to do a DVD of it
  290. and try to get it back into the world with signing.
  291. And I thought it was a fabulous idea
  292. and Janice's work on this DVD is so brilliant,
  293. and of course, the quality of storytelling
  294. that is possible with ASL
  295. is just beyond anything else that's available to anyone.
  296. So, I think
  297. deaf children and hearing children will both
  298. benefit enormously from this kind of product
  299. and from all of the others that I hope
  300. are going to be available in libraries everywhere.
  301. Maybe there will be questions for me?
  302. I don't know. I think that's about all
  303. I can pump out of my throat today.
  304. I thank you so much for having me here
  305. and as I say, it's been extraondinarily illuminating for me,
  306. and I love being with you all today.
  307. Are there any questions?
  308. [applause] Thank you.
  309. No? Okay.
  310. Thank you again.
  311. (Female Audience Member)
  312. Hello there. I just wanted to tell you how delighted
  313. I am that you've made this book possible
  314. and many more works such as these.
  315. I'm inspired by the fact that this book is there.
  316. (Emily McCully)
  317. Thank you so much.
  318. (Female Audience Member)
  319. My question is how long did it take you to complete that book?
  320. (Emily McCully)
  321. Well, this one... of course there's the research
  322. and the reading process was several weeks,
  323. and I don't usually have an advisor.
  324. Gary Wait was my advisor on this one,
  325. so we communicated back and forth.
  326. And the trip to Hartford--that had to be scheduled,
  327. and so on.
  328. So, I would say two or three months for that.
  329. And then, sitting down and doing a picture book
  330. requires doing a "dummy,"
  331. which means that I write the text
  332. at the same time that I'm creating a little pretend book.
  333. And the little pretend book is absolutely necessary
  334. because a picture book is unlike most other books
  335. in that it's like a little movie that's in my head,
  336. and I have to get the movie down on paper
  337. The movie is not projected. It involves the reader.
  338. The book cannot be read
  339. unless the reader wants to turn the page,
  340. so I had to figure out how much material to put on a page.
  341. I put so much on...well, I'll do it with this.
  342. I make a dummy that looks sort of like this,
  343. but it's just black and white sketches.
  344. I put so much material on this page
  345. so that the reader will want to know what happens.
  346. The reader lifts the page, and for a few seconds
  347. anything can happen!
  348. Turns the page, more information--not too much,
  349. just enough to create enough tension
  350. so the reader wants to turn the page
  351. and advance the story.
  352. So, it's a complete collaboration with the reader.
  353. And I have to figure out with the dummy--
  354. I play with how much I put on this page and that page
  355. and I go back and forth.
  356. I tend to make little rough sketches
  357. and tape them down, or tape down the words
  358. with scotch tape
  359. and then lift them up and move them around
  360. if I have to.
  361. And that process takes, oh maybe two or three weeks.
  362. And then I send it to the publisher,
  363. and the editor figures out what else I have to do
  364. and what isn't working and what is working
  365. and tells me and sends it back.
  366. I make revisions--
  367. that can take two or three more weeks--
  368. when I finally get to the point
  369. where I do the finished work.
  370. And my emphasis in my books is
  371. I want everything to look as if something is happening--
  372. I want it to have a sense of action--
  373. so I, to try to make things look spontaneous,
  374. I make, for example, color choices as I'm painting.
  375. I don't do color sketches,
  376. I wait until I'm doing the finished paintings
  377. and they take another six weeks.
  378. Then I send that off. My work is done.
  379. The book is separated. The colors are all separated
  380. and printed - each color separately.
  381. Probably these days in Asia.
  382. The book doesn't come out for a full year
  383. after I have finished my work.
  384. And by that time, in this case,
  385. the publisher had forgotten about it.
  386. So, that can happen--
  387. that's not such a good story.
  388. So, I hope that this ASL Tales version has...
  389. I hope it's going to have a lot of momentum
  390. and will really reach as many people as it can.
  391. Once again, thank you so much, Deaf Community,
  392. for embracing it.
  393. More questions?
  394. (Male Audience Member)
  395. I'm curious if you've had the experience...
  396. oh sorry, one moment...
  397. I'm curious if your work on this book
  398. has made you inspired to learn more
  399. about the deaf community and deaf culture?
  400. (Emily McCully) Yes it has. Very much.
  401. (Female voice, offscreen)
  402. I believe we have two questions off to the side.
  403. (Alice Hagemeyer)
  404. Hello there.
  405. For some of you who may not know,
  406. her book is the very first book
  407. written for children that is talking about deaf history,
  408. and I applaud you for that.
  409. I'm not sure if even you knew that.
  410. Did you know that?
  411. (Emily McCully)
  412. No, I knew it was the first one about Alice and Thomas.
  413. I didn't know it was the first, period.
  414. That's amazing. That's terrible.
  415. (Alice Hagemeyer)
  416. Right, it's the first historical work for children--
  417. first historical fiction book for children.
  418. And also, it's very fortunate, and I'd like everyone to know
  419. that the School for the Deaf has a museum,
  420. which in the past, people weren't really cherishing
  421. their heritage and the artifacts
  422. and so oftentimes, things weren't preserved well
  423. until Gary Wait, also a good friend of mine
  424. got involved with their museum program
  425. and made some drastic changes.
  426. And having that material preserved,
  427. made your research, I'm sure, much better,
  428. so our thanks also have to go out to Gary.
  429. Now, any of you who want to write
  430. something like this,
  431. I have to let you know about what wonderful resources
  432. these deaf archives are.
  433. Many places around the country don't have these
  434. kinds of resources available as well.
  435. And also I know deaf people are quite surprised
  436. that a hearing author has written this,
  437. rather than a deaf author.
  438. But, it brings to bear the point that we must all work together--
  439. that our communities have to work together.
  440. I thank you so much for getting this story out there
  441. and accessible to our deaf children.
  442. And also, I have to applaud Janice Cole and
  443. her company's work to put these in ASL versions.
  444. This is a story that will never be outdated. Never.
  445. (Emily McCully)
  446. Thank you very, very much.
  447. Yes, I meant to say earlier
  448. that history is absolutely vital for everyone.
  449. If you don't have a context for your life in the present,
  450. you really don't have anything to stand on.
  451. Often, when I'm talking to school kids,
  452. I quote Cicero, who said,
  453. "To not know what happened before one was born
  454. is to always be a child."
  455. So you know, in order to grow up,
  456. children have to know history.
  457. Especially their own history.
  458. So, yeah, there has to be more of it.
  459. Thank you.
  460. (Margie English)
  461. I have one small question if I may?
  462. (Emily McCully)
  463. You're entitled.
  464. (Margie English)
  465. As a person who has published a number of works
  466. and illustrations. With this text, "My Heart Glow,"
  467. and that one has not been widely marketed
  468. and you said the reviewers weren't sure
  469. quite how to take the book and the use of syntax by a deaf person
  470. in the expression of the deaf person's thinking process.
  471. Now in terms of future publishers of deaf works
  472. by deaf authors, what would you say
  473. to those future publishers
  474. and these future authors,
  475. that they could do to improve this process
  476. so that it's more readily accepted?
  477. And educate those reviewers as well,
  478. so that it would be more appropriately received?
  479. (Emily McCully)
  480. Well, I think my publisher should have
  481. provided something, I think, for reviewers
  482. but they did not.
  483. I thought and I hoped that the author's note
  484. would suffice, but apparently it didn't.
  485. Now, I'm saying only one or two people did this,
  486. but it was significant that they didn't understand.
  487. So, yeah, there has to be support of the book.
  488. In the storytelling process, I didn't want to interrupt the story
  489. with editorial comments or, you know, references to facts
  490. or anything like that.
  491. I wanted the story to flow, as a story must.
  492. So it was up to the publisher, I think,
  493. to provide the support material
  494. that reviewers needed.
  495. You know, adult books are often published
  496. with reader's guides, guides for book clubs and so on.
  497. So that kind of thing
  498. that goes along with the book
  499. but doesn't have to be part of the story
  500. would be very helpful.
  501. Thank you Janice.
  502. Not Synced
    [end of segment 4. go to segment 5]