A DISSERTATION | pdf (31.97Mb)
Submitted to the Ph.D. in Leadership & Change Program of Antioch University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy March 2006
Rochester, NY | NYC
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Adjusting the Margins

production photos of IRT’s 1994 Del-Sign season at the Samuel Becket Theater
upper left: A FLEA IN HER EAR: Doug Lockwood, Vivian Hasbrouke, David Rosenburg
upper right: MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM Cynobia Demps, Collette Livingston 
bottom: MIDSUMER NIGHT’S DREAM: Deborah Waller, Amanda Kaplan, Vivian Hasbrouke, Sean Lambert – photos by K. Haggerty

This study addresses a gap in scholarship on leadership styles in the Deaf community. There is an invisible style of leadership differing from the mainstream culture that has not been previously addressed in the literature at any depth. My study was composed of three interlocking parts in a sequence that constitutes the practice of anthropology: fieldwork, analysis, and presentation. The foundation for my fieldwork was an “archeology of the structure of the perceived world” (Merleau-Ponty), using the holding environment of the rehearsal process and the structural process of an acting technique called Del-Sign. Del- Sign is a fusion acting style that I created by combining American Sign Language and the Delsarte method. I also employed current qualitative methods described as “performance ethnography” (Norman Denzin and Ron Pelias). The fieldwork of creating discussion groups, which I call salons, provided the initial material, my analysis process turned that material into a performance script; and audience participation in the form of talk-back sessions after the performance provided documentation for the results of the presentation. I provided data for the fieldwork with journaling and videotaping events in rehearsals and performances, director’s notes, and observations. The participants in this study offered great contributions to the research design, and social and cultural contexts were shifted by their action in the research. Their participation was analyzed in the context of Action Research (Argyris, 1985). The resulting findings from the data were compared to anthropological and folkloric theories of performance and style. I was able to create and study a bridge, created through performance, between a hearing audience and a marginalized and, therefore, often oppressed Deaf culture. Analysis of the data indicted that this performance bridge was the critical element of potential “change” in my study, thus addressing the gap in scholarly literature. Individuals in both the audience and the cast reported a change in perception about the opposing culture. The study results also indicated a unique style of leadership by Deaf people within a Deaf community that is collaborative in nature yet values the individual. I trust further study into that aspect of Deaf leadership will indeed adjust the margins of society.


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