Cultural and Creative Studies

Deaf Cultural Studies/ASL

RIT offers Deaf Cultural Studies courses to students enrolled in associate and bachelor's degree programs. Courses for associate degree students are offered through the College of NTID, and courses for bachelor's degree students are offered through the RIT College of Liberal Arts. These courses employ a cultural studies framework in which to examine the Deaf experience and social/cultural constructs. As such, the courses do not approach being Deaf as a pathology or disability. In addition to studying Deaf culture, students will develop critical consciousness of power-relationships and social justice as well as an understanding of individual and social identity with specific reference to the Deaf experience. Focusing on the Deaf experience, students will study how meaning is created and shared via the power of cultural institutions and values and how institutions and values impact the formation of identities, social roles and expectations.

The Deaf Cultural Studies minor and immersion offered to students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs through the RIT College of Liberal Arts provides a unique opportunity for RIT students to pursue and critically analyze integrated scholarly studies related to the historical, anthropological, psychosocial, linguistic, artistic, literary, legal/political and multicultural elements of the Deaf experience. The minor and immersion provide students with opportunities to critically examine social and cultural constructions, especially as they impact individuals and social groups. As a result, students may be empowered as agents of social change.

The Study of Deaf Culture

As with the specialized study of most ethnic and disenfranchised groups, RIT Deaf Cultural Studies approaches the field from a cultural perspective. For disenfranchised groups, this means one must study their culture in relation to the more general cultural context. Courses in literary and artistic expressions of members of these groups, for example, must be analyzed in light of the broader context of the experiences of oppression and resistance.

The field of cultural studies focuses on how meaning is created and shared via the power of cultural institutions and values as they impact the formation of identities, social roles and expectations. Cultural studies allows us to examine our social constructions of reality and question subsequent inequalities. In particular, the field of Deaf Cultural Studies crosses many disciplines and includes American Sign Language as a core construct.

Selected Resources

Deaf Cultural Studies/ASL Certificate

The Certificate in Deaf Cultural Studies/ASL is offered to students enrolled in degree programs at NTID and the other colleges of RIT as an enhancement to their portfolio of general academic, career, and technical skills. It is not a stand-alone certification. The certificate offers an opportunity to learn about historical, anthropological, linguistic, literary, artistic, and multicultural aspects of deaf people’s lives. Courses expose students to a breadth and depth of topics in Deaf Cultural Studies and ASL, and address NTID General Education goals for critical thinking, writing, and public presentations.

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American Sign Language and Deaf Cultural Studies Minor and Immersion

Overview of Minor

The American Sign Language-Deaf Cultural Studies minor prepares students in the multi-disciplinary study of American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Cultural Studies (DCS). Courses are open to deaf and hearing students enrolled in bachelor's degree programs.

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Overview of Immersion

The American Sign Language-Deaf Cultural Studies immersion introduces students to the multi-disciplinary study of American Sign Language and Deaf Culture. Courses are open to deaf and hearing students enrolled in bachelor's degree programs and can complement majors in fields such as business, imaging arts and sciences, health sciences, policy studies, communication, psychology, and numerous scientific and technical fields.

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Communication, Social, and Global Awareness

Courses in the Communication, Social, and Global Awareness Perspective address a range of contemporary topics, concepts and principles through the study of personal, social, cultural, and technological issues. In addition to content area knowledge, these courses emphasize skills in the areas of communication, literacy and critical thinking. 

NHSS-110
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Students are introduced to basic concepts and terminology in the study of the humanities (visual and performing arts, history, and philosophy) through a variety of literary works presented in English and/or American Sign Language (short story, storytelling, novel excerpts, drama, film, poetry, and ASL literature). Students will learn about intellectual/academic inquiry and issues studied within these disciplines.
NHSS-111
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Students are introduced to basic concepts and terminology in the study of the evolving American family from its Judeo-Christian roots to its multi-cultural reality in the 21st century. Students will learn about the nature of the family unit, the contributions of its members to the family organization, the family's contribution to society, and the current trends in the American family.
NHSS-159
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Introduces students to American and international aspects of Deaf culture and community. Students learn about the language, norms of behavior, values and traditions of Deaf people. Historical and sociological perspectives and cross-cultural issues related to the hearing and Deaf communities are analyzed. The formation of the Deaf community and Deaf culture is studied to illustrate the meaning of Deaf Heritage and how art, sports, organizations, and technology have combined to impact the lives of Deaf people. The achievements of many Deaf people in a variety of fields are reviewed to underscore self-identity and self-advocacy issues. The study of cultural, economic and political history is used to broaden understanding of current events.
NHSS-180
Lecture 3, Credits 3
This course is intended to explore the understanding of human behavior and everyday life using important concepts from social sciences. The course covers the fields of psychology, sociology, and political science. Materials from anthropology and economics may be used as well. The course focuses on the application of the social sciences to the study of business, art, education, government, and other areas of interest.
NHSS-199
Ind Study, Credits 1 - 4
The description for each Independent Study course will be specified in each course proposal.
NHSS-219
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Students will study dramatic literature with a special emphasis on analyzing the interpersonal communication among characters in written texts and engaging in presentations, performances, and role playing. Students will apply their insights to real life situations. They will also present their analyses to an audience and/or perform scenes from plays. The course will enable students to gain important insights into their own patterns of communication and develop effective strategies for presenting information to audiences and engaging in interpersonal communication. Each student is responsible for their own communication in the classroom. This course is open to all RIT students; an interpreter will not be provided.
NHSS-251
Lecture 3, Credits 3
This course is intended to provide students with an understanding of contemporary civilization and how it affects Deaf people’s lives. Students will learn key influences and develop an understanding of their impact on Deaf people via the topics of language, psychology, history, bioethics and human rights. Students will study a variety of social and cultural groups in order to understand the value of Deaf people in contemporary civilization.
NHSS-260
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Students will learn the history and achievements of Deaf civil rights, as well as current challenges and future directions of Deaf culture and civil rights. Students will learn the basic history of disenfranchised groups in the United States, how the civil rights process is begun and its ultimate impact on the mainstream society. The course places special emphasis on research and analysis of the Americans with Disabilities Act and involvement in a civil rights project.
NHSS-270
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Introduces students to multiculturalism in the Deaf community. Students learn about facts and stereotypes related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and physical challenges. The cycle and internalization of biases (attitudes) and discrimination (action) will be studied. Recognition of similarities and differences related to disability, medical, racial, ethnic, social-minority, and cultural models will be explored to understand perceptions of disabled vs. able bodied individuals.
NHSS-275
Lecture 3, Credits 3
This course introduces students to Deaf Cultural Studies using stories about the Deaf experience. Students will interpret works in visual art, film, performing arts, and literature (ASL and English). Students will learn how historical/social/political and intersectional context, Deaf cultural values, and themes and symbols influence our interpretation of these creative works. Finally, the importance of collective memories for preserving Deaf cultural norms/values and promoting social justice will be addressed.
NHSS-279
Lecture 3, Credits 3
Using a seminar approach, this course gives students the opportunity for focused, in-depth study of a specialized topic in the field of Deaf Cultural Studies. Specific topics vary from semester to semester, and address such areas as language and communication, the arts in Deaf culture, identity and diversity in the Deaf community, and political, social and legal issues. This course is repeatable for credit.
NHSS-281
Lecture 3, Credits 3
This course provides students with opportunities to engage in community service with Deaf and hearing socially responsible and sustainability focused organizations. Some examples of service learning opportunities might include working with Rochester School for the Deaf to establish an edible schoolyard, Habitat for Humanity to help build low cost, energy efficient, sustainable homes or working with organizations such as Foodlink and Rochester Roots which partner with local farmers to provide people in need with healthy food and provide sustainably produced local food. Students will undertake a civic engagement project where their individual contributions will be amplified through purposeful involvement with local and global organizations. Students will research social, political, economic and environmental issues that affect individuals, local and global communities, and become actively involved in seeking, proposing, and acting on solutions to selected problems. Students will explore ways in which change is an individual and collective responsibility, driven by the interconnectivity of self, local community, and global society.
NHSS-285
Research, Credits 1 - 4
This course is a faculty-directed student research project at the undergraduate level. The research will entail an in-depth study in the discipline that could be considered of an original nature. Enrollment in this course requires permission from the Department Chair and completion of the NTID Undergraduate Research Contract.
NHSS-289
Lecture, Credits 1 - 4
The description for each Special Topics request will be specified in each course proposal.