Clara-Maria Kutsch, BA MA

Die ‚Sprache der Taubstummen‘. Eine diskurskritische Untersuchung der Darstellung
der Gebärdensprache im Kontext der Beschreibung von Gehörlosigkeit in Handbüchern
der HNO-Heilkunde (1850-2020).

Supervision: Eva Vetter, Martin Reisigl
Period: 2021-

The medical perspective on deafness has always focused on the deficit of a malfunctioning of one sensory organ positioning itself as the diametrical counterpart to the sociolinguistic perspective. Hearing disorders are subsumed under a deficit requiring options of technomorphic treatment but neglecting the linguistic realities the addressed group of patients find themselves in. Signed languages merely play an ancillary role if not referred to as inhibitors to language acquisition and as inferior to spoken languages. Bearing in mind the prestigious role in action and power of medicine as an institution, there are power relations that not only directly influence the above mentioned individuals but also shape evolving and manifesting intersections with other medical-technical fields over time. With this in mind, this dissertation seeks to perform a discourse analysis of manuals and textbooks of otorhinolaryngology in the context of Deafness. This longitudinal study of relevant medical sources will not only challenge arguments of the described deficit thinking but go on to expose maintained continuities. For this purpose, the investigation period stretches from 1850 to 2020 matching the development of the specific field of otorhinolaryngology in Vienna and contextualising its development and establishment at the University of Vienna. An adaption of the Wiener Kritische Diskursanalyse with its strong contextualisation allows for a thorough analysis of the medical deficit perspective through medical source literature for the first time and enables critical discussion of medical-technical progress shaping otorhinolaryngology from the mid 20th century onwards to the inclusion of genetic engineering at the beginning of the 21st century.