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The Invention of Miracles

language, power, and Alexander Graham Bell's quest to end deafness

Katie Booth

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Scribe Publications
30 March 2021
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A revelatory revisionist biography of Alexander Graham Bell - renowned inventor of the telephone and hated enemy of the Deaf community.

A revelatory revisionist biography of Alexander Graham Bell - renowned inventor of the telephone and hated enemy of the Deaf community.

When Alexander Graham Bell first unveiled his telephone to the world, it was considered miraculous. But few people know that it was inspired by another supposed miracle- his work teaching the deaf to speak. The son of one deaf woman and husband to another, he was motivated by a desire to empower deaf people by integrating them into the hearing world, but he ended up becoming their most powerful enemy, waging a war against Sign Language and Deaf culture that still rages today.

The Invention of Miracles tells the dual stories of Bell's remarkable, world-changing invention and his dangerous ethnocide of Deaf culture and language. It also charts the rise of Deaf activism and tells the triumphant tale of a community reclaiming a once-forbidden language.

Inspired by her mixed hearing/Deaf family, Katie Booth has researched this story for over a decade, poring over Bell's papers, Library of Congress archives, and the records of deaf schools around America. Witnessing the damaging impact of Bell's legacy on her family set her on a path that upturned everything she thought she knew about language, power, deafness, and technology.

'Fascinating. The Invention of Miracles tells the story of how Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone was intertwined with his sincere but misguided passion for teaching the deaf how to speak. It's a tale of great love, brilliant innovation, personal drama, and the unintended consequences of good intentions.' -Walter Isaacson #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs 'Meticulously researched, crackling with insights, and rich in novelistic detail, The Invention of Miracles is more than the revelatory biography of an inventor who transformed the world. By shining a bright light on society's assumptions about disability, Booth's book is a profound and lyrical meditation on what it means to be human.' -Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes- the legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity 'Booth does a masterful job weaving this powerful and compelling story, a narrative about fear and obsessive fascination with difference in this wonderful book.' -Brian Greenwald, professor of history at Gallaudet University & co-editor of In Our Own Hands- essays in deaf history 1780 - 1970
By:   Katie Booth
Imprint:   Scribe Publications
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 35mm
Weight:   538g
ISBN:   9781922310323
ISBN 10:   1922310328
Pages:   368
Publication Date:   30 March 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Katie Booth teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in The Believer, Aeon, Catapult, and Harper's Magazine, and has been highlighted on Longreads and Longform; 'The Sign for This' was a notable essay in the 2016 edition of Best American Essays. Booth received a number of prestigious fellowships to support the writing of The Invention of Miracles, including from the Library of Congress and the Massachusetts Historical Society. She was raised bilingually and biculturally in a mixed hearing/Deaf family.

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