Friday, October 22, 2010
Next Thursday I'll be putting my life on the line again, lecturing to a class of college students.
Exactly why this is a sensible idea I can't say. Preparing a 45-minute talk takes about three eight-hour days of work. Otherwise I would just be peddling banalities to the credulous.
Intolerant cranks might think college students nothing more than ignorant simpletons vulnerable to subversive notions, but I've always found them tough audiences with acutely tuned bullshit detectors. (Of course they are ignorant. That's why they're in college. Why else would they be?)
The class in question is "Explore Chicago: Chicago's Disabled Community," a course taught by an old friend, Karen Meyer. She's a WLS-TV (ABC) reporter specializing in news about disabilities, and she's also director of DePaul University's Office on Disabilities as well as a professor.
It's a survey course for freshmen. My book What's That Pig Outdoors: A Memoir of Deafness is required reading, so they'll know all about me. I won't have to explain who I am and why I'm standing in front of them. That's half the battle.
Karen herself is deaf -- we both went through Evanston Township High School -- and so the students will already be accustomed to the way oral deaf people speak. There won't be an awkward period in which the students struggle to get used to my rusty bathtub pipes.
Funny thing, though: I'll be talking to them the way I speak to unfamiliar hearing audiences: with the help of a computer, a digital projector and Keynote (the Mac version of PowerPoint). The hardware will illustrate how I make myself understood to hearing audiences: small pages of text and photographs projected on a screen, with readings from the books by the Lady Friend.
It'll be a demonstration of how a deaf author pitches his books to the general public. Overcoming an obstacle, in short.
There won't, however, be a pop quiz. I'm not that tough.
I'm looking forward to it. Speaking to Karen's students is always gratifying.
OCT. 29: And so it was.