I See a Voice

Deafness, Language and the Senses--A Philosophical History

Jonathan Rée

Metropolitan Books

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A groundbreaking study of deafness, by a philosopher who combines the scientific erudition of Oliver Sacks with the historical flair of Simon Schama.

There is nothing more personal than the human voice, traditionally considered the expression of the innermost self. But what of those who have no voice of their own and cannot hear the voices of others?

In this tour de force of historical narrative, Jonathan Rée tells the astonishing story of the deaf, from the sixteenth century to the present. Rée explores the great debates about deafness between those who believed the deaf should be made to speak and those who advocated non-oral communication. He traces the botched attempts to make language visible, through such exotic methods as picture writing, manual spellings, and vocal photography. And he charts the tortuous progress and final recognition of sign systems as natural languages in their own right.

I See a Voice escorts us on a vast and eventful intellectual journey,taking in voice machines and musical scales, shorthand and phonetics, Egyptian hieroglyphs, talking parrots, and silent films. A fascinating tale of goodwill subverted by bad science, I See a Voice is as learned and informative as it is delightful to read.

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Reviews

Praise for I See a Voice

"A superb achievement. An exceptional book." (Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life)

"Brilliant. A joy to read." (Roy Porter, The Indepent (London))

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About the Author

Jonathan Rée

Jonathan Rée teaches philosophy at the University of Middlesex. A regular reviewer for The Guardian and The Financial Times, he is also the literary editor of Radical Philosophy. He lives in Oxford, England.

Jonathan Rée

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Available Formats and Book Details

I See a Voice
Deafness, Language and the Senses--A Philosophical History
Jonathan Rée

Hardcover

Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
November 1999
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780805062540
ISBN10: 0805062548
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 416 pages
$27.50
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