Hearing Happiness (Hardcover)

Deafness Cures in History

By Jaipreet Virdi

University of Chicago Press, 9780226690612, 328pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2020

List Price: 27.50*
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Description

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: hearing trumpets, violet-ray apparatuses, pneumomassages, 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 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.


About the Author

Jaipreet Virdi is assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware. 


Praise For Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History

“Poetically weaving her own experiences as a deaf person into a history of hearing loss, Virdi makes a compelling argument that deafness is as much a cultural construct as it is a physical phenomenon. Rigorously researched and eminently readable, Hearing Happiness is packed with historical gems that will fascinate any reader.”

— Lindsey Fitzharris, author of 'The Butchering Art'

“Everyone needs to read this fascinating history of hearing loss, technology, medicine, and audism. 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 and director of Disability Visibility

"I always love reading books by deaf authors who grew up mainstream like me. If you want to learn about mainstreamed deaf people and the medical mysteries of deafness and its history, read this book! Virdi shares lots of fascinating information that I never knew before."

— Rikki Poynter, Youtuber and deaf activist

Hearing Happiness is smart, captivating, and immensely important. We can only grow as a society when we listen to the people we’ve placed on the fringes of it. Deaf people don’t need cures—they deserve respect and support. If you want to be a person on the front lines of necessary change, start with this book!”

— Keah Brown, creator of #DisabledAndCute and author of The Pretty One

“Told with clarity and compassion, Virdi’s moving story will resonate with any reader seeking to understand what it truly is like to be deaf in the US."

— Cäsar Jacobson, activist, author, and actor

Hearing Happiness provides so much surprising and interesting historical information, as well as many answers about audism, the history of technology, and our perception of hearing loss. Virdi’s personal story is moving, and her research takes us on all kinds of trips back in time. Fascinating.”

— Ilya Kaminsky, author of 2019 National Book Award finalist Deaf Republic

“Virdi has written a landmark study in the history of technology: one that shows in powerfully specific and deeply personal ways how technologies construct social norms and mold the way we live. Her nuanced account of the history of technologies designed to ‘cure’ the way that certain people experience the world is a powerful testament to the need for people from marginalized groups to have a seat at the table when technological fixes are proffered by tech corporations and the medical establishment.”

— Mar Hicks, author of 'Programmed Inequality'