The Sorrows of Deafness

If, on being introduced to a new circle, you find yourself addressing a person apparently between the ages of eighteen and thirty, who makes small or no reply even to your most piquant remarks, do not immediately set down him or her as either proud, sulky, or irremediably stupid; but let the thought suggest itself that the non-respondent may be deaf, and be prepared to bestow some compassion where you before felt something allied to contempt.

G.H. Bosanquet wrote a short pamphlet, The Sorrows of Deafness in 1839, in order to provide a mouthpiece for drawing attention to the privations of deafness and the experiences of deaf individuals. Himself having suffered misery from deafness, Bosanquet spends much of the book trying to shift conceptions about the isolated and solitary state of the deaf, and on making it clear that one being deaf does not equal one being stupid.

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Latest Comments

  1. Thony C. says:

    The snippets from your BL reading are wonderful.

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  2. Jai Virdi says:

    thank you! I’m enjoying reading them and there’s still so much to go through. I’m looking forward to writing my first chapter.

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  3. Grant says:

    Can I ask what your dissertation topic is? A quick skim shows it’s something to do with history of science and aural surgery – perhaps focusing on Curtis? Sorry about being lazy and asking instead of reading on, but it’s late at night and I’m too short on time these days to read too much! I hope that I’m not being nosey it’s just I’m interested, being a hard-of-hearing / deaf researcher. I don’t write too often about deafness on my blog, but I do occasionally pick up research related to deafness. I also have a casual (i.e. leisure-time only!) interest in the history and philosophy of science.

    I could write a small essay in response to that quote. I’d better not start, though, or I’ll probably end up relating some personal experiences that’d bore you. I hope I find time to read your earlier posts – it’s great to see them.

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  4. Jai Virdi says:

    Hi Grant,

    Thanks for reading & for the comment. Yes, my dissertation focuses on the history of aural surgery in 19th century Britain and I explore how the budding network (if there was one) of aurists attempted to claim authority over the deaf against the monopolized treatment of educational asylums. A lot of histories are played in my narrative: the professionalization of medicine, the nature of (contested) authority, public perceptions to medicine, the marketplace of medicine, and of course, the meaning of quackery.

    The perceptions of the deaf–that is, from the point of view of educational asylums and from the point of view from deaf individuals themselves–often intersect the main focus of my work.

    Currently, based on my research goals, I’m focused on exploring the network of aurists in London. So expect a lot of posts to follow on that, but once in a while I’ll slip in something interesting I find!

    I would love to read an essay response–and trust me, I won’t be bored 🙂

    Happy Reading!

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