Deaf Hearing Boy: A Memoir (Deaf Lives Series, Vol. 2)

Overview

Born in 1938, R. H. Miller was the oldest of four hearing boys with deaf parents in Defiance, Ohio, a small agricultural community. Deaf Hearing Boy is Miller's compelling account of the complex dynamics at work in his family, including the inter-generational conflicts in which he found himself, the oldest child of deaf adults (CODA), caught in the middle.

In 1942, Miller's family moved to Toledo so that his father could find work. There, they fared well during World War II ...

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Overview

Born in 1938, R. H. Miller was the oldest of four hearing boys with deaf parents in Defiance, Ohio, a small agricultural community. Deaf Hearing Boy is Miller's compelling account of the complex dynamics at work in his family, including the inter-generational conflicts in which he found himself, the oldest child of deaf adults (CODA), caught in the middle.

In 1942, Miller's family moved to Toledo so that his father could find work. There, they fared well during World War II because his father worked in manufacturing as a member of Roosevelt's "civilian army." Miller's mother loved urban life, where she and the family could immerse themselves in the Toledo Deaf community, especially at the Toledo Silent Club. The end of the war marked the end of prosperity for the Miller family. Returning soldiers displaced all of the deaf workers, who then had to scrape for a living. The Millers, close to destitution, returned to the family farm in Defiance.

Miller depicts the return to farm life as one of tremendous hardship, both economically and psychologically. They lived off the land from hand to mouth. He also describes his grandparents’ distrust of his parents because they were deaf, and he writes candidly of his role as an unwilling agent in the misunderstandings between them. Miller also portrays the bias he endured in school and town. Parents of girlfriends would force their daughters to stop dating him for fear that his family's deafness would be passed down.

In the early 1950s, Miller's grandparents sold the farm and his parents returned to industrial work. Miller excelled at school, and eventually left home for college and life in academia. His later reflections reveal a deep, abiding respect for his parents, despite his early difficulties. Deaf Hearing Boy presents an intimate depiction of a changing time for hearing and deaf Americans alike, when the family farm disappeared and the isolation of Deaf people also began to fade. In witnessing this transformation of society through his family's life, Miller adds an important chapter to the collective narrative of Deaf people, one made all the more poignant and vivid as told by their Deaf Hearing boy.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Miller (English, emeritus, Univ. of Louisville) offers a glimpse into the deaf world from his perspective as a CODA-a child of deaf adults-relating a life spent navigating the often treacherous waters between the hearing and deaf worlds. Raised in the 1940s and 1950s, Miller writes of his family's struggles, both financial and familial. In typical 1930s fashion, his parents were educated in a strict boarding school for the deaf, where they learned few skills for surviving in a hearing world. Marrying against the wishes of their hearing parents, Miller's mother and father struggled to provide for their growing family despite a lack of family support and the prejudices of the hearing world in general. In this account of Miller's coming of age, and the effect of having deaf parents, Miller offers an enlightening look at deaf culture. A good purchase where there is interest in the deaf world.-Ann Forister, Roseville P.L., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563683053
  • Publisher: Gallaudet University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Series: Deaf Lives Series , #2
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

R. H. Miller is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Louisville, KY.

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