One Sentence Bio

Jaipreet Virdi is a historian of medicine, technology, and disability at the University of Delaware, and author of Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History.

Short Bio, Academic

Jaipreet Virdi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Delaware whose research focuses on the ways medicine and technology impact the lived experiences of disabled people. She is author of Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History (University of Chicago Press, 2020), co-editor of Disability and the Victorians: Attitudes, Legacies, Interventions (Manchester University Press, 2020), and has published articles on diagnostic technologies, audiometry, and the medicalization of deafness.

Short Bio, Public

Jaipreet Virdi is a scholar-activist and Assistant Professor in the Department of History at University of Delaware. Her first book, Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History raises pivotal questions about deafness in American society and the endless quest for a cure. Her writing has appeared in Slate, The Atlantic, Psyche, The Wellcome Collection, and the New Internationalist. She is on Twitter as @jaivirdi

Full Bio

Dr. Jaipreet Virdi is an award-winning historian whose research focuses on the ways medicine and technology impact the lived experiences of disabled people. Her first book, Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History (University of Chicago Press, 2020) raises pivotal questions about deafness in American society and the endless quest for a cure. She has published articles on diagnostic technologies, audiometry, hearing aids, and the medicalization of deafness and has essays in The AtlanticNew Internationalist, Wellcome Collection, Psyche, and Slate.

As an educator, Virdi has taught at Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, and Brock University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of History at the University of Delaware where she teaches courses on disability histories, the history of medicine, and health activism. She is prolific on Twitter, where she uses her platform to raise awareness of medical inequities, social injustice, and disability rights.

Born in Kuwait to Sikh parents, Virdi lost her hearing at age four to bacterial meningitis. By age six, her working-class family immigrated to Toronto, Ontario where she would later attend a school for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. A product of “mainstreamed” education, Virdi learned to lipread and rely on her hearing aids. She attended public high schools then received her Bachelors’ degree in the philosophy of science from York University. After graduation, she took time off to work in marketing and fashion merchandising, before deciding to return to school. She received first her masters, then her doctorate, from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, focusing on the history of medicine and technology. Her PhD dissertation is titled “From the Hands of Quacks:” Aural Surgery, Deafness, and the Making of a Specialty in Nineteenth-Century London. 

Her new research historicizes how disabled people tinkered with their prostheses and perceived their devices to be prosthetic extensions of themselves that were crucial for their self-crafting of normalcy. Through case studies of users adopting what Virdi refers to as “the disabled gaze,” this project forces us to confront how disabled people challenged medicalized assumptions about their bodies, and claimed their own spaces to craft their identity.

Contact

Twitter: @jaivirdi

Email: jvirdi@udel.edu

Accessibility Notes

All interview requests conducted virtually–whether for print, radio, or podcast–need to be done on Google Meet to meet my access requirements. Radio and podcast interviews must provide transcripts upon airing and video recordings must be captioned. I will not consider any interview requests that do not provide these requirements. Virtual events must be captioned (preferably with CART or Zoom AI captions) and when necessary, provided ASL interpreters. I’m happy to discuss alternative recording formats where possible and work with organizers to better improve access needs for participants and audiences.

Speaker Fees

In lieu of honoraria, I request funds otherwise set for speaker fees to be redirected to the following:

  1. For University or Department events: to support graduate workers or redistributed for a mutual aid fund for graduate students.
  2. For Public or Private Organizations: donated to one of the following initiatives:
  • Project LETS: a national grassroots organization and movement led by and for folks with lived experience of mental illness/madness, Disability, trauma, & neurodivergence.
  • HEARD: a cross-disability abolitionist organization that unites across identities, communities, movements, and borders to end ableism, racism, capitalism, and all other forms of oppression and violence.
  • Disability Visibility: an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.

Publicity Photos

Photo Credit: Max Plank Society, David Ausserhofer

Alt-Text: Photo of Jaipreet Virdi, a smiling South Asian woman with long dark hair. She is wearing dangling earrings, a black blazer and black blouse, and posed in front of a blurry green background.

Photo Credit: Evan Krape

Alt-Text: Photo of Jaipreet Virdi, a smiling South Asian woman with long hair. She is in an office, standing in front of a wall of bookshelves filled with books. She is wearing a lilac blazer and white blouse, and holding a conversation tube, with one end inserted in her ear, the other directed towards the viewer.

Alt-Text: Photo of Jaipreet Virdi, a smiling South Asian woman with long dark hair. She is wearing a beige sweater and large hoop earrings, and is positioned in front of a blue background.
Alt-Text: A bright yellow book cover. The title in red font says: “Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History,” followed by the author’s name below, Jaipreet Virdi. At the center is a black and white illustration of a slim white woman dressed in dark blouse and wearing a 19th century bouffant cap tied under her chin. She is smiling and using a conversation tube, holding one piece in her ear, the other extended towards the speaker.