Opening Friday, September 4th, from 6PM - 7PM
At the age of four, Jaipreet Virdi’s world went silent. A severe case of meningitis left her alive but deaf, suddenly treated differently by everyone. Her deafness downplayed by society and doctors, she struggled to “pass” as hearing for most of her life. Countless cures, treatments, and technologies led to dead ends. Never quite deaf enough for the Deaf community or quite hearing enough for the “normal” majority, Virdi was stuck in aural limbo for years. It wasn’t until her thirties, exasperated by problems with new digital hearing aids, that she began to actively assert her deafness and reexamine society’s—and her own—perception of life as a deaf person in America.
Through lyrical history and personal memoir, Hearing Happiness raises pivotal questions about deafness in American society and the endless quest for a cure. Taking us from the 1860s up to the present, Virdi combs archives and museums in order to understand the long history of curious cures: ear trumpets, violet ray apparatuses, vibrating massagers, electrotherapy machines, airplane diving, bloodletting, skull hammering, and many more. Hundreds of procedures and products have promised grand miracles but always failed to deliver a universal cure—a harmful legacy that is still present in contemporary biomedicine.
Weaving Virdi’s own experiences together with her exploration into the fascinating history of deafness cures, Hearing Happiness is a powerful story that America needs to hear.
EARLY PRAISE FOR HEARING HAPPINESS:
“Engaging . . . A sweeping chronology of human deafness fortified with the author’s personal struggles and triumphs.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Part memoir, part historical monograph, Virdi’s Hearing Happiness breaks the mold for academic press publications.”—Publishers Weekly
“Everyone needs to read this. In examining deafness cures and sharing her own personal story, Virdi reveals society’s ever-evolving processes in creating and enforcing normalcy.”—Alice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility Project and author of Disability Visibility
“In her insightful book, Virdi probes how society perceives deafness and challenges the idea that a disability is a deficit. . . . [she] powerfully demonstrates how cures for deafness pressure individuals to change, to ‘be better’.”—Washington Post
“Informative and engaging.”—Ms. Magazine
“Rigorously researched and eminently readable, Hearing Happiness is packed with historical gems that will fascinate any reader.”— Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris, best-selling author and medical historian.
Jaipreet Virdi is assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware. This is her first book. Find her on Twitter at @jaivirdi or visit her website www.jaivirdi.com.