UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Identity, imagined communities, and the third space in the life of a hard of hearing student in a high school theatre program Webber, Theresa Lynn


The purpose of this qualitative case study based on the life of a hard of hearing student in a mainstream high school is to examine ways in which the representation of hearing impairment mediates the participation within an imagined community. In an interview, “Lisa,” a nineteen year old, hard of hearing woman, reflects on the influence of the high school drama program two years after her graduation, recalling her attempt to cope with an increased loss of hearing, a cochlear implant, lip reading, the learning of sign language, and the ever-essential quest — making friends — in the chaotic and verbally dominated community of an after school theatre program. This paper is situated in research such as Norton (2006), in which second language proficiency is exposed as the gatekeeper to social worlds, examining the negotiated identities and their relationship to inequitable distribution of power. The role of the teacher is also explored in the socialisation of a hard of hearing adolescent in a hearing society. This study discusses the conflict of two cultural and linguistic communities — the deaf and hard of hearing community, using A.S.L. (American Sign Language) or S.E.E. (Signed Exact English), and the hearing community, using English. How does she negotiate an identity when denied membership in both communities? The influence of imagined communities is explored (Anderson, 1991; Pavienko & Norton, 2007) in collaboration with the creation of the third space through shared dreams (Gutierrez et al, 1999). Lisa moves from accepting to resisting her representation as an “outsider” and “incapable deaf girl,” developing strategies to communicate with her imagined community, and negotiating her identity as a valued member of the school. As Lisa finds leadership outside of the classroom, the role of extracurricular activities and their potential to redistribute power is discussed. The findings witness her shift of power from seeking symbolic resources to giving symbolic resources (Bourdieu, 1991), which opens the door to the unexpected community for a hard of hearing student: the school musical.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International