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Encountering the Disabled Gaze<p><strong>Jaipreet Vird</strong>i is a historian of medicine, technology, and disability. Her research and teaching interests include the history of medicine, the history of science, disability history, disability technologies, and material/visual studies. She received her Ph.D. from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and the University of Toronto (2014). </p><p>Dr. Virdi is author of <a href=""><em>Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History</em></a> (University of Chicago Press, 2020). This book rethinks how therapeutic negotiation and the influence of pseudo-medicine shaped what it meant to be a "normal" deaf citizen in American history. Examining how deaf/deafened individuals attempted to amplify their hearing through various types of surgical, proprietary, and/or technological "deafness cures," the book charts the dissemination of ideas about hearing loss from beyond medical elites to popular culture and the popular imagination. She is co-editor of <em>Disability and the Victorians: Attitudes, Legacies, Interventions </em>(Manchester University Press, 2020), has published articles on diagnostic technologies, audiometry, hearing aids, and the medicalization of deafness and has essays in <a href=""><em>The Atlantic</em></a>, <a href=""><em>New Internationalist</em></a>, <a href=""><em>Wellcome Collection</em></a><em>, </em><a href=""><em>Psyche</em></a><em>, </em>and <a href=""><em>Slate.</em></a></p><p>She is currently working on three other projects. <em>Objects of Disability </em>is an online resource database of historical artefacts used by, and/or crafted by, Canadians with disabilities, with the site scheduled to launch in 2022. Her second book, <em>Medicalizing Deafness: Aural Surgery in Nineteenth Century Britain </em>traces the efforts of British aurists (ear specialists), examining how their attempts to define a professional identity depended on dismantling cultural perceptions about the incurability of deafness. Additionally, Dr. Virdi is collaborating with <a href=""><strong>Dr. Coreen McGuire</strong></a> to trace the historical roots of scientific research on disabilities—such as deafness and breathlessness—in Britain and the role of women scientists. This project<em>, Setting Standards: Women Scientists and the Politics of Disability in Interwar Britain </em>especially focuses on how scientific instruments were used by women to demonstrate the value of their research against criticism and assert control over (deaf) bodies.<br></p>2021<p>​The "disabled gaze" is an autonomous claiming of identity, the opposite of freakery or the "medical gaze," that serves as a guard against ableism and oppression. For disabled people, the power of this gaze allows them to assert their lived experiences to reduce stigma. Students in "Disability and the American Experience" (HIST 268) will analyze how the disabled gaze is prevalent in technology and share their work at the Center for Material Culture Studies' Third Biennial Conference, "The Disability Gaze."</p>virdij

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  • University of Delaware
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