Magdalena Zdrodowsk

The transition to sound cut off from mainstream cinema culture both deaf viewers and deaf actors. Large parts of the narrative necessary to understand the film started to be conveyed through spoken dialogue, to which the deaf people had limited or no access. They did not, however, abandon cinema without a fight. In my presentation, I will first discuss strategies that the American deaf community used to gain access to ‘talkies’ shortly after the transition to sound; secondly, I will analyze the successful history of cinematic captioning for the deaf, the success of which was based on the concept of separate deaf spectatorship. My analysis is based on American sources including articles in the deaf and popular press, and collections of the Gallaudet University Archives (Washington). Magdalena Zdrodowska – Assistant Professor in the Institute of Audiovisual Arts, Jagiellonian University, Poland. Currently conducts a book-length project The Deaf History of Cinema funded by the Polish National Science Center. She was awarded an International Scholar title by The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), and is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC). Author of Telephone, cinema and cyborgs. Mutual relations between technology and deafness (2021, published in Polish).