Are ASL Translations Limited to English Poetry? A Review of “Show and Tell: The Enhancement of English Literature Through Sign Language” by Jamie Rester (7.2; Spring 2019)
by Kate Weaver
Jamie Rester beautifully breaks down the emotion, form, and intention behind translations of literature into ASL. Despite some unnecessary wordiness in the introductory sections, Rester’s analysis of Crom Saunders’s signing and her divulgence into his use of expressions, classifiers, orientational metaphors, neologistic signs, and exaggeration are well-executed and present the beauty and skill behind ASL translations. Using examples of Henley, Donne, and Whitman’s poetry, Rester exemplifies the power of interpretation, “because as written text is translated into ASL, it is simultaneously being interpreted by both the signer and the recipient.”
This unique environment for literary analysis and interpretation is fascinating, but the horizons of Rester’s analysis could be widened. What of prose readings translated into ASL? Or are there any performance actors who translate Shakespearean monologues, for example, into ASL? While the gap between grammatical application of ASL translations and literary interpretation is successfully bridged in Rester’s argument, there remains other forms of English Literature that are not mentioned or examined. Leaving other literary forms untouched can very well be intentional for the sake of specific interest; however, if this reason be the case, why not title the article “The Enhancement of English Poetry” to better implicate a more specific discussion of ASL literary translations? The benefit, however, of having the title as is demonstrates Rester’s work as inspiration for further thought and interest on this distinct topic.
On a final note, would it be inappropriate for those with hearing to adopt this approach to literature? Or should it be reserved for those without? These questions may be something Rester would be interested in answering in an expansion of her article.
Kate Weaver has been creatively writing since the age of twelve and has always found an interest in unique niches of study, especially those related to language, writing, and literature. Studying English and Theater at Belmont Abbey College, Kate devotes much of her time to finishing her degree while developing her craft and working as a publishing intern for Wiseblood Books Publishing House. Kate plans to attend John Carroll University in August 2020 to pursue her Masters in English. Published work includes: “Clear Skies” by Z Publishing House, Emerging Writers Series (2018); “Dauphin Island” by Z Publishing House, Emerging Writers Series (2019); a variety of poetry and short stories published by Agora, including “The Aftermath” (2017), “Bartleby’s Sister” (2018), “The Ride Home” (2019), and “The Pier” (2020).