PhD in Cultural Studies

Matt Malzkuhn, 2020

Matt Malzkuhn

Matt Malzkuhn never thought his doctoral work in cultural studies would push him to become a budding entrepreneur. He graduates from Mason not only with a doctorate, but as the founder and lead project manager of a deaf-owned and deaf-run company.

Ink & Salt, Matt’s company, is dedicated to developing and publishing apps related to Sign Language and Deaf Culture. Their flagship app, The ASL App, uses videos to teach conversational ASL to users. According to its website, Ink & Salt aims to,“create connections between the non-signing community and the signing community.” Ink & Salt was one of Matt’s many professional ventures outside of his doctoral work, including full-time tenure-track faculty work at Gallaudet University and, later, as a research specialist at the Sign Language Research Lab at Georgetown University.

Matt is a deaf scholar in more ways than one: he is both a member of the Deaf Community, and a scholar of Deaf Culture. Mason was the first hearing environment institution of higher education Matt attended, having received his BA and MA at Gallaudet University. “I always felt this buzz of energy every time I stepped on [Mason’s] campus, and felt what I am pursuing is essential.”

He explained that stepping outside of his mostly deaf-centered educational background was “refreshing and eye opening, being engaged with different schools of thoughts previously unknown or minimally explored to me. I believe I was able to grow exceptionally as a professional.”

Matt hopes to convert his dissertation on "Preservation, Revitalization, and Validity of Home Movies: Deaf Folklife Films as a Case Study” into a book and publish it, and has plans to continue his research on Deaf Made Home Movies. He also hopes to continue creating resources for both the hearing and Deaf communities through his company.