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Présentation
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A graphic signed novel ?

The thesis I am preparing for my doctorate in Communications is a research-creation project consisting of a doctoral dissertation of approximately 200 pages and a graphic signed novel in French and Quebec Sign Language [or langue des signes québécoise in French, also known as LSQ].

Project origins

In 2012, I created a French-language zine entitled C’est tombé dans l’oreille d’une Sourde [It Fell on Deaf Ears]. This word play was intended to stimulate reflection on the various meanings of this reappropriation. For example, in French, when a person says, “it did not fall on deaf ears”, it means that particular attention has been paid to what has just been said, that it is being seriously considered. However, in our society, the issues and demands of Deaf people receive very little attention, even though this population experiences numerous forms of oppression on a daily basis. This is exactly the situation I want to call attention to, thus… It fell on Deaf ears.

Like humour, idiomatic expressions can be difficult to translate from one language to another…therefore the title in Quebec Sign Language is not a literal translation. I would transliterate the title in LSQ into English like this : it goes in one ear and out the other, but don’t think of it as hearing loss. Deaf people perceive and live the world from a range of other perspectives that inspire us and that we express through the richness of Sign Languages.

Although the first edition of the zine was in French only, this project has grown. The graphic signed novel I am currently producing as part of my PhD in Communications is now bilingual, and this has significantly transformed the writing and production process.

Research-creation

My exploratory research approach takes the form of a research-creation project. In short, I ask questions about Deaf people’s concrete experiences of daily life in general and of oppression in particular. For example, when a hearing person meets a Deaf person for the first time, it’s an opportunity to ask a variety of questions to learn more about deafness, living with deafness, or Sign Languages. But for the Deaf people being asked these questions, it’s for the umpteenth time. How do they perceive and experience the constant repetition of the same questions by the hearing people they meet or, more generally, repeated experiences of oppression ? And since there are many ways of living as Deaf person, I am to bring to the fore and present various experiences and points of view.

Graphic signed novel

Inspired by autobiographical memories and reflections as well as by meetings with Deaf people and members of my family, the graphic signed novel will be published on this website as a virtual black and white book with pages that can be turned over. It will contain videos of its protagonists signing in Quebec Sign Language edited with a special cartoon effect, linked to the phylacteries (text cartoon bubbles in French), illustrations, and photos edited with graphics software.

The expression “bande dessignée”, translated here as “graphic signed novel”, came to me one evening as I was explaining how my project embraces codes used in graphic novels while also integrating video as a form of writing in Sign Language. It’s a graphic novel in Sign Language… a graphic signed novel.