CFP Special issue of RHM: Chronicity

Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM) Special Issue:  Rhetoric of Chronicity

Guest Editors Lora Arduser and Jeff Bennett

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2019), 6 in 10 adults in the United States has a chronic disease and 4 in 10 have two or more chronic conditions. By 2020, this number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions (Lancet, 2009; National Health Council, 2014). These illnesses have become the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and cost $3.3 trillion annually in health care costs. As such, chronic illness is one of the major health crises of the 21stcentury.

This exigence suggests that we’re not only at a pivotal point in how health care is delivered—focusing on long-term rather than acute issues—but how and when we communicate about health. These material and discursive conditions surrounding chronic illness and chronic care are connected to larger rhetorical concerns.

How chronic diseases and conditions get rhetorically defined as “chronic” and who has the power to make these definitions have ramifications about how both individuals with chronic illnesses and rhetorical scholars engage with “chronicity.” These engagements–from personal healthcare management to patient advocacy efforts to medical protocols and research–highlight tensions around rhetorical definitions of agency, power, and identity.

Current scholarship in RHM has taken up chronic illness as a topic (see, for example, Arduser, 2017; Bennett, 2019; Emmons, 2010; Graham, 2015), but it has been distributed across a number of books and journals and typically focused on single illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS (Bennet, 2009), diabetes (Arduser, 2017; Bennet, 2019) or cancer (Teston, 2017). The special issue editors see the publication as an opportunity to create a robust and cohesive body of scholarship on the rhetoric of chronicity. The special issue will build on this existing RHM scholarship as well as foundational concepts in the field–such as ethics (Teston, 2017), rhetorical characters (Keranen, 2010), and patient-provider communication (Segal, 2005)–to focus on how chronic illness can help rhetoricians of health and medicine think about theory building and methodologies in RHM, impacting healthcare practices (e.g., through patient advocacy, clinical practice, personal healthcare management, policy), and gaining a greater understanding of the variety of texts and artifacts and sites that RHM scholars investigate.

The special issue editors are interested in work that examines a variety of chronic illnesses, including but not limited to mental health, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, asthma, auto-immune illnesses, addiction issues, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury. Questions contributors might address include the following.

Building Theory

  • What makes a health condition chronic? How do we talk about and “do” chronic illness differently than acute medical conditions? What ramifications do these differences have for rhetorical theories of health?
  • What theoretical openings are available to a rhetoric of chronic health?
  • How does living with chronic illness or caring for chronic illness influence rhetorical theories of risk?
  • How do narrative theories influence concepts of chronicity?
  • How does a rhetoric of chronic illness engage with/build on/re-invent other rhetorical notions (e.g., rhetorical ecologies, metis, etc.)?
  • How can a rhetoric of chronic illness build upon and inform theories of embodiment?

Examining Identity, Agency, and Power Relations

  • What can insights gleaned from the rhetorical practices found in specific illness communities help us expand or challenge our understanding of distributed rhetorical agency, other specific illnesses, and chronic illnesses more generally?
  • How does living with/caring for chronic illness challenge/build on ideas about expertise and/or rhetorical agency and/or decision making in health care settings?
  • How do the emotional situations of invisible suffering, such as psychic disorders, trauma, autoimmune diseases or cancer, affect how we re-interpret rhetorical in situations of chronic illness and care?
  • What assumptions about patienthood do online chronic patient communities extend, challenge, or upend?

Impacting Practices

  • How do rhetorical practices in chronic illness settings challenge/expand/change the medical language of compliance, shared decision making and/or patient-centered care?
  • How does chronicity affect rhetorical practices from a patient, care giver, doctor, and/or system perspective?
  • What are the implications of intersections between holistic health rhetoric and the rhetoric of chronic illness?
  • How can RHM scholars impact health literacy practices of chronic illness?

These themes are meant to be generative rather than exhaustive. The editors and guest editors look forward to reading proposals for traditional academic articles but are also eager to hear your ideas for other RHM genres—persuasion briefs, dialogues, commentaries, and review essays.

This special issue will be co-edited by Lora Arduser and Jeff Bennett in consultation with the RHM co-editors. Special issue proposals will be reviewed and ranked by members of the journal’s editorial board, and manuscripts will undergo the same rigorous peer review process as regular submissions.

Submissions (500 to 850 word proposals not including citations) should be made to Questions should be directed to the special issue editors at or


Proposals due: March 31, 2020

Decisions sent out to authors: April 14, 2020

Drafts due: September 7, 2020

Revisions due: February 2021

Publication: October 2021



Arduser, L. (2017). Living chronic: Agency and expertise in the rhetoric of diabetes. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press

Bennett, J. (2009). Banning queer blood: Rhetoric’s of citizenship, contagion, and resistance. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2014). Chronic diseases in America. CDC. Retried from:

Emmons, K. K. (2010). Black dogs and blue words: Depression and gender in the age of self-care. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Graham, S.S. (2015). The politics of pain medicine: A rhetorical-ontological inquiry. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

The Lancet. (2009) Tackling the burden of chronic diseases in the USA. The Lancet, 373(9659):185.

Keranen, L. (2010). Scientific characters: Rhetoric, politics, and trust in breast cancer research. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.


National Health Council (2014). About chronic diseases. National Health Council. Retrieved from:

Segal, J. Z. (2005). Heath and the rhetoric of medicine. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Teston, C. (2017). Bodies in flux: Scientific methods for negotiating medical uncertainty. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

ATTW & CCCCs Events 2020

For folks going to ATTW and CCCCs March 24-28 in Milwaukee, WI, following are some RHM events. (If you have a question or event to add, contact Lisa.)

RHM Happy Hour

Thursday, March 26 from 4-30ish-6:00

Rock Bottom restaurant and Brewery about .3 miles from the convention center (

Happy Hour is held at a location close by with a wide variety of drink options (alcoholic to non-alcoholic)  and is a drop in event meant for you to come by and say hey and meet new folks or talk with old friends.

SIG Meeting

Thursday, March 26 from 6:30-7:30 102 B (Wisconsin Center)

RHM Dinner

Every year after the MedRhet SIG, a group of SIG members continues the fun over dinner. This dinner usually happens organically. But this year, being that Milwaukee is Liz Angeli’s hometown and my house is a $14 Lyft ride from the convention center, she’d like to invite anyone interested to my house for a casual dinner.
The menu includes the Angeli family pasta sauce and meatballs, sides, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and dessert.
For anyone with dog allergies or concerns: I have a lovely 65-pound old English sheepdog who will be at the party.
If you’re thinking of attending, please fill out this form to help me plan for the dinner.
Questions? Email me at

Conference Sessions


Multi-layered Power in Advocacy, Health Technologies, and GPS Design

  • Sarah Warren-Riley, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley
  • Leah Heilig, Texas Tech University
  • Edzordzi Agbozo, Michigan Tech

Access and Justice in Science and Health Contexts

  • Nathaniel Voeller, Penn State University – Determining Depression Management: Language, Access, and Power in the Interactive Designs of Depression Apps
  • Bill Hart-Davidson, Michigan State University, and Dawn Opel, Food Bank Council of Michigan – Fighting Systemic Bias in Electronic Health Records Systems: Taking the Technical Communiation’s Social Justice Turn to Automated Clinical Decision Support
  • Danielle Stambler, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Healthy Eating and the Power of Institutional Wellness Discourse
  • Douglas Walls, North Carolina State University  – Usability Testing, Experience Design, and the Problem of Access(ing) in Citizen Science Projects

Interventions in Health and Medical Communication

  • Candice Welhausen, Auburn University – Crack, Opioids, and Visualizing a Drug Abuse Epidemic: Toward a Social Justice Ethic in the Construction of Data Visualizations
  • Lillian Campbell, Marquette University – Rhetorical Body Work: Unpacking Health Providers’ Physical, Emotional, and Discursive Training
  • Nancy Henaku, Michigan Tech – Communicating Health in Women’s Magazines: Expert Voices, Biopolitics and Postfeminist Subjectification

Justice in Medical and Science Communication

  • Barbi Smyser-Fauble, Illinois State University – Tweeting for Reproductive Justice: How Twitter Can Help Technical Communicators Compose Socially Responsible Medical Texts about (In)Fertility
  • R.J. Lambert, University of South Florida – Beyond Communicating Risk: Peer-to-Peer Harm Reduction in Online Drug Forums
  • Mark Hannah, Arizona State University, and Lora Arduser, University of Cincinnati – In the Shadows: An Examination of Doctor-to-Doctor Interactions and How They Shape Doctor-to-Patient Communication
  • Holly Shelton, University of Washington – Science Writing Uptake: Tracing Ways of Knowing

Medical Communication in Practices and Pedagogies

  • Blake Scott, University of Central Florida – Leveraging “Patient Empowerment” through Micro-Influencers
  • Kimberly Tweedale, University of North Texas – Fitting In and Making Waves: Why Fitbit Users Cheat the System
  • Tristin Hooker, The University of Texas at Austin – Tweeting Zebras: Social Networking as Advocacy for Rarely-Diagnosed Conditions
  • Molly Kessler, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Rhetorical Listening & Cultural Competence: Developing Pedagogies for Health & Medical Writing Courses


Thursday: 10:30-11:45

A.18  Composing around/through Health: Exploring Wellness, Illness, and Dis/ability in the Teaching and Practice of Writing

This session will consider how health is an emergent commonplace in the practice and teaching of writing. Attendees will hear brief presentations and work together to develop new in-class activities, assignments, research projects, and writing practices.

  • Speakers: Savannah Foreman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Drew Holladay, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    Sarah Singer, University of Central Florida, Orlando
    Emi Stuemke, University of Wisconsin, Stout

Thursday: 1:45-3:00

Poster Session:(De)Composing the Body: An Exploratory Study of Deathcare Documentation Practices in Mississippi
This poster presents results from an exploratory pilot study investigating the documentation practices of the deathcare industry in Mississippi. Results are situated within larger conversations taking place within the fields of technical/ professional communication and the rhetoric of health and medicine.

Speaker: Wilson Knight, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

C.01 Describing and Deconstructing Rhetoric of Health and Medicine’s Commonplaces

This roundtable will hope to offer insight into commonplaces that are implicit in RHM work in order to deconstruct any “borders” these might be creating and, in turn, provide guidance on how we might keep our borders fluid and open to new ideas, energies, and participation.

  • Chair: Cathryn Molloy, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
  • Avery Edenfield, Utah State University, “DIY HRT: Expanding RHM through Applied Queer Theory”
  • Erin Fitzgerald, Auburn University, “Navigating Ethical Boundaries in Research”
  • John Gallagher, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Vaccination Topoi: Expanding Rhetorical Understanding of Vaccine Support”
  • Heidi Lawrence, George Mason University, “Vaccination Topoi: Expanding Rhetorical Understanding of Vaccine Support”
  • Teresa Henning, Southwest Minnesota State University, “Am I Doing This Right? Using Rhetorical Commonplaces to Transform Self-Care Texts for Heart Failure Patients”
  • Caitlin Ray, University of Louisville

C.44 Researching Rhetorical Commonplaces in Health

Executive Ballroom C (Hyatt)

From digital design to (re)defining relations of cells and tissues, panelists explore rhetorical commonplaces in health research.

  • Chair: Justin Dykes, University of Houston, TX
  • Speakers: Tori Thompson Peters, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “A Dose of Cells: The Rhetorical Molecularization of Human Cells and Tissues”
  • Suzanne Rumsey, Purdue Fort Wayne, IN, “Narratives of Rare Disease and Invisible Illness: Recruiting a Patient’s Body of Knowledge for Her Own Care”
  • Evelyn Harry Saru, University of Texas, El Paso, “‘Glocalization’ of Health Information: Considering Design Factors for Mobile Technologies in Malaysia”
  • Patti Wojahn, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, “‘Glocalization’ of Health Information: Considering Design Factors for Mobile Technologies in Malaysia”

Friday: 9:30-10:45

G.40 Birth, Death, Assault, and Control: Translating Rhetorical Agency

Solomon Juneau Room (Hilton)
Working at the intersections of feminist theory and medical rhetoric, this panel explores and extends commonplace understandings of “agency” and “translation” in rhetorical theory. Presentations (re)consider these concepts in the liminal spaces between medicine and politics, life and death, examination and assault, and agency and control.

  • Chair and Speaker: Marika Seigel, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, “Birth behind the Iron Curtain: Rhetorical Agency Reconsidered”
  • Amy Koerber, Texas Tech University, “Translation and the Rhetorical Power of Medical Expertise: A Critical Examination of ‘Medically Appropriate’ Behavior”
  • Kim Hensley Owens, Northern Arizona University, “Examining Threshold Choir: Toward a Transpersonal Theory of Rhetorical Agency”
  • Jenna Vinson, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, “Covert Commonplaces about Pregnancy and Control: Studying a Neoliberal Translation of Feminist Agency”

Waking Up: Creative Nonfiction That Breaks Silences on Illness and Caregiving

Pere Marquette (Hyatt)

Writers of medical narratives will share stories that break silences about sickness and pain and trouble notions of wellness and ability. Each panelist will deliver a short narrative on illness, caregiving, or teaching the medical humanities, and then facilitate a writing exercise on a prompt inspired from the narratives.

  • Chair and Roundtable Leader: Ann Green, Saint Joseph’s University, Bala Cynwyd, PA
  • Leonora Anyango-Kivuva, Community College of Allegheny County
  • Anna Leahy, Chapman University
  • Christy Zink, George Washington University


Friday: 12:30-1:45

Western Constructs in Non-Western Environments

Wright Ballroom B (Hilton)
Exploring ways in which scholarship and medical rhetoric may be decolonized and become more inclusive of global communities.

  • Chair: Emily Cooney, Arizona State University, Phoenix
  • Speakers: G. Edzordzi Agbozo, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, “Pharmaceutical Writing in International Contexts: A Case of Multinational Drug Literature”
  • Michael Madson, Medical University of South Carolina, “What Does ‘Globalization’ Mean in Technical Communication?”
  • Eric Rodriguez, Michigan State University, East Lansing, “Communities of Care as a Commonplace for Professional Writing and the Decolonial Project”

Friday: 2:00-3:15

Rhetorics of Healthcare: Technical Tools, Decision Making, and Access

Lakeshore Ballroom C (Hyatt)
Presentations engage how rhetoric impacts the use of technologies in healthcare common places, such as clinics and emergency care.

  • Chair: Kelle Alden, University of Tennessee, Martin
  • Speakers: Russell Kirkscey, Penn State Harrisburg, “Adapting to the Health Needs of Older Adults: Complex Usability and User Experience”
  • Mariel Krupansky, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, “The Choice: Examining Inclusivity and Decision-Making in a Family Planning Clinic”
  • Zac Wendler, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI, “Procedural Rhetoric in the Intensive Care Unit”

Friday: 11:00-12:15

H.10 Performing Bodies, Disrupting Commonplaces

103 A (Wisconsin Center)

Strategies for subordinating social scripts and disrupting expectations that limit mental health, body positivity, and feminist community.

  • Chair: Lorie Stagg Jacobs, University of Houston, Clear Lake Speakers: Stacy Cacciatore, Clemson University, SC, “Fativism: Disrupting Gender and Body Normative Roles as a Form of Social Activism”
  • Rachel Dortin, Wayne State University, “Performed Bodies Perform Commonplaces: A Qualitative Study of Embodied Ecofeminist Pedagogy and Community Partnerships”
  • Abby Wilkerson, George Washington University, Washington, DC, “Subordinating Scripts: The Production of Depression through Rhetorical ‘Transactions,’ and Possibilities for Intervention”

Friday: 2:00-3:15

J.49 Teaching Health and Medical Writing Today: Envisioning New Commonplaces

Regency Ballroom A (Hyatt)

This interactive panel offers a set of new commonplaces—and specific teaching tools for them—to bring together expertise in professional
and technical writing in the health and medical professions in order to reimagine writing instruction for 21st-century clinical practice: one that increasingly involves collaborative, networked, and distributed writing.

  • Chair: Elizabeth Angeli, Marquette University
  • William Hart-Davidson, Michigan State University, East Lansing, “Writing in Clinical Practice: Three Commonplaces for Teaching and Learning”
  • Barbara Heifferon, Louisiana State University, “Commonplaces for Connections between Health Professionals and Writing Teachers”
  • Maria Novotny, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, “Facilitating Pedagogical Commonplaces via the Health Decision Aid”
  • Dawn Opel, Michigan State University, East Lansing, “Writing in Clinical Practice: Three Commonplaces for Teaching and Learning”
  • Respondent: Lora Arduser, University of Cincinnati, OH

Saturday: 12:30-1:45

Whose Experience? Whose Knowledge? Resituating Healthcare and Disability Commonplaces

Wright Ballroom A (Hilton)

How is knowledge built within healthcare and mental health environments? Whose stories are researchers able to access and engage?

  • Chair: Dorothy Worden, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  •  Caitlin Burns, University of Louisville, TN, “Ethics and Access in Mental Health Archives”
  • Melissa Guadrón, The Ohio State University, Columbus, “Mental Health Personal Experience Narratives”
  • Katherine Morelli, Northeastern University, “Decolonizing the Clinic: Challenging What Counts as Knowledge and Expertise in Health Care Settings”




CFP: RHM Special issue on Food as Medicine

Download a PDF of the call: Food as Medicine. (*.pdf)

Proposal due: October 15, 2019 to

Sociologist Deborah Lupton wrote that “food has become profoundly medicalised in its association with health, illness and disease” (2000, p. 205). Historically, diet has, indeed, always been part of a medical practice regimen—throughout the long reign of humoral theory, and the modern updates of dietetics and modern nutrition science; furthermore, specific diets have always been prescribed for specific ailments. Food has also played a vital part in public health interventions, in which its production, regulation, distribution, and safety have been recognized as paramount for the health of the populace. Insofar as it enters the purview of the state, food has also been strongly linked with national character, prowess in war, and other such ideological constructs that problematize the notion of “the health of the nation” (see Veit, 2013). Governmental dietary guidelines (in the U.S. or elsewhere) have been highly contested and yet they have profoundly transformed the way many people eat. Food-related health concerns have been exacerbated in the Anthropocene, when unsustainable food production poses risks to both humans and the planet; for example, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets opens its most recent report with a stark statement: “Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both” (Lancet, 2019).

More recently, dietary habits have received increased attention from evidence-based medicine. While studies regarding correlation between food intake and health markers are notoriously difficult to conduct reliably (Ioannidis, 2013), an accumulated amount of evidence aligns with sensible advice regarding the importance of certain foods or food components (e.g., vegetables, fruit, fiber) for a healthy life. Certain foods, some claim, should be prescribed for certain conditions, and a recent study predicted that if such “healthier foods” could be covered by our health insurance systems, we could prevent disease and reduce healthcare costs (Lee et al., 2019). At the same time, such “prescriptions” can come with steep and unrealistic costs; in fact, another recent study in Lancetsuggests that it is not possible to reach the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables in most countries, even under the most optimistic economic predictions (Mason-D’Croz et al., 2019). Food access and quality, and the accompanying health correlates, have always been embedded in economic and demographic dynamics.

In affluent countries where food is abundant, we have also created the conditions for what some have dubbed an “orthorexic society” (Nicolosi, 2006/7), in which we are obsessed with “eating right.” The diet industry has long capitalized on a variety of fears (e.g., health, social capital inherent in thinness), and health and wellness gurus are replicating at an accelerated pace. Eating disorders abound and even proliferate (with orthorexia, a morbid obsession with eating right, being one of the latest additions to the more well-known triad of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder). Alternative medicine and health movements put food at the center of their concerns, although their language has been, in turn, coopted by the mainstream food industry (Kiedeckel, 2018). A preoccupation with our health and a belief that it is achievable through diet and self-control stems also from healthism—the idea that we are or ought to be personally responsible for our own health (Crawford, 1980). The idea that we can achieve perfect health via consumption of the right type of food (“clean,” organic, GMO-free, etc.) and via the correct balance of macronutrients (tailored or not to biological markers such as our genome or microbiome) has led to an explosion of food fads, biotechnologies, food delivery services, apps, and more, aimed at keeping us thin and healthy—so far with dubious results.

All of these topics lend themselves to rhetorical treatment. Rhetoricians have already addressed some of the implications of food rhetoric and its intersections with health and medicine, such as, among others: rhetoric of the slow food movement (Schneider, 2008) and of organic food systems (Nowacek & Nowacek, 2008); rhetoric of health citizenship and the moralization of healthy eating (Spoel, Harris, & Henwood, 2012, 2014; Derkatch & Spoel, 2015); rhetoric of racialized food politics (Schell, 2015); feminist rhetoric of food (Goldthwaite, 2017; Dubisar, 2018); rhetoric of food justice, activism, and agricultural systems (Dubisar & Roesch-McNally, 2018); rhetoric of public nutrition guidelines (Mudry, 2009; Hite & Carter, 2019). We invite papers that further this work by expanding these lines of inquiry in relation to the rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM), or explore some of the themes outlined below:

Rhetorical histories of dietetics, or, food as medicine

  • How has food been medicalized: from the ancient arts of dietetics to contemporary nutrition science?
  • There is a budding literature on the rhetoric of food, but how can we conceptualize the rhetoric of food-as-medicine?
  • How does the rhetoric of dieting fit into discourses of health?
  • What can rhetoric tell us about past or current complexities and controversies of nutrition science?

Food, Wellness, and Alternative Medicine

  • How did food become a form of alternative medicine—e.g., see naturopathic claims about the power of certain foods to heal all manners of disease, Gerson therapy, etc.?
  • What is the role of gurus/media celebrities/social media celebrities in spreading messages about healthy eating/dieting? (e.g., Oprah, Dr. Oz, GOOP, Food Babe, etc.)
  • How can we cogently critique a variety of alternative food practices and beliefs (juicing, detoxing, cleansing, paleo, vegan, non-GMO, organic, raw, unprocessed, etc.) using an RHM perspective?
  • How can we better understand the rhetoric of “clean eating”?
  • How is food pathologized or lionized in matters of health?

Food Interventions as Public Health Initiatives

  • How can we better understand the rhetoric of public discourse about food as medicine/pharmakon (as prevention, treatment, or “poison”), from food that heals (chicken soup, DASH diet, sugar free, fat free, organic, vegan, etc.) to food that kills (from e-coli or BSE infestations to processed food or sugar/fat/salt promoting metabolic diseases)?
  • How do we interpret the rhetoric of food lobbies (sugar, soft drinks, dairy, beef, etc.)?
  • What is the rhetoric of public health communication on food safety/food scares?
  • How has food become an agent of good or ill health through excess, deficiency, quality, or other?
  • What are the rhetorical-ethical dimensions critiques of food production systems and the food industry in relation to their effects on individual and public health, as well as on the environment?
  • How can we understand governmental dietary guidelines and regulations through the prism of RHM?
  • To what point is food pathogenic or healing in the phenomenology of eating disorders? We invite pieces that may address food-related ailments, e.g. malnutrition, obesity, bulimia, binge-eating, anorexia, or orthorexia, in which food may be regulated, prescribed, and theorized as treatment or pathology.

The Future of Food as Medicine

  • What role do practices such as the appification of health and healthy eating, “biohacking,” and other Silicon Valley solutions to our dietary concerns play in how we view health and health citizenship?
  • How does measuring and quantification (of calories, nutrients, etc.) as a “social technology” (Mudry, 2009) change our relationship with food, our bodies, and our health?
  • What are some of the issues regarding growing food in the Anthropocene that reflect on our health and medical practices?

These themes are meant to be generative rather than exhaustive. The guest editor and RHM editors look forward to reading proposals for research articles, but are also eager to hear your ideas for the journal’s other genres—persuasion briefs, dialogues, commentaries, and review essays.

This special issue will be co-edited by Cristina Hanganu-Bresch in consultation with the RHM co-editors. Special issue proposals will be reviewed and ranked by this team and members of the journal’s editorial board, and manuscripts will undergo the same rigorous peer review process as regular submissions. Cristina is very willing to answer email queries at

Please email 500-1000 word proposals (excluding citations) to by October 15, 2019. Completed manuscripts for accepted proposals will be due March 25, 2020; the special issue is slated for Spring 2021.

Selected Bibliography

Biltekoff, Charlotte. Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health.Durham and London: Duke UP. 2013.


Bitar, Adrienne Rose. Diet and the Disease of Civilization. Rutgers UP, 2018.


Bobrow-Strain, Aaron. “White Bread Bio-Politics: Purity, Health, and the Triumph of Industrial Baking.” Cultural Geographies vol 15, no. 1, 2008, pp. 19–40.


Derkatch, Colleen, and Philippa Spoel. “Public Health Promotion of ‘Local Food’: Constituting the Self-Governing Citizen-Consumer.” Health, vol 21, no. 2, pp. 154–170.

Derkatch, Colleen. Bounding Biomedicine: Evidence and Rhetoric in the New Science of Alternative Medicine. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2016.

Dubisar, Abby M. and Gabrielle Roesch-McNally. “Representation, Resistance, and Rhetoric: Bananas Catalyze Campus Activism.” Present Tense, 7, 2018.

Dubisar, Abby M. “Toward a Feminist Food Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Review vol.37, no. 1, 2018, pp. 118-130.

Douglas, Mary. Purity and danger: An analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. London:Routledge & Kegan, 1966.


Joshua Frye, Michael Bruner (Eds.)The Rhetoric of Food: Discourse, Materiality, and Power.New York, London: Routledge, 2012.


Goldthwaite, Melissa A. (Ed.) Food, Feminisms, Rhetorics. Chicago: Southern Illinois UP, 2017.


Grey Stephanie Houston. “American Food Rhetoric.” In: Thompson P.B., Kaplan D.M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. Springer, Dordrecht, 2014.


Grey, Stephanie Houston. “An Acquired Taste: The Flavors of Rhetoric in Food Politics,” Rhetoric and Public Affairsvol 19, no. 2, 2016, pp. 307-320.


Hall, Kim Q. “Toward a Queer Crip Feminist Politics of Food.” philoSOPHIAvol. 4, no. 2 2014, pp. 177-196.


Hite, Adele H. and Andrew Carter. “Examining Assumptions in Science-Based Policy: Critical Health Communication, Stasis Theory, and Public Health Nutrition Guidance.” Rhetoric of Health and Medicine vol. 2, no. 2, 2019, pp. 147-175.


Kideckel, Michael S. “Anti-Intellectualism and Natural Food: The Shared Language of Industry and Activists in America since 1830.” Gastronomicavol. 18, no. 1, 2018, pp. 44-54.


Lee, Yujin, Dariush Mozaffarian, Stephen Sy et al. “Cost-Effectiveness of Financial Incentives for Improving Diet and Health Through Medicare and Medicaid: A Microsimulation Study.” PLOS Medicinevol. 16, no. 3, 2019: e1002761.


Deborah Lupton. “Food, Risk, and Subjectivity.” Health, Medicine and Society: Key Theories, Future Agendas, edited Michael Calnan, Jonathan Gabe, and Simon J. Williams. Routledge, 2000, pp. 2015-218.


Mason-D’Croz, Daniel, Jessica R Bogard, Timothy B Sulser, et al. “Gaps Between Fruit and Vegetable Production, Demand, and Recommended Consumption at Global and National Levels: An Integrated Modelling Study. Lancet Planetary Healthvol. 3, 2019: e318–29.


Mudry, Jessica. Measured meals: Nutrition in America. New York: State U of New York P, 2009.


Nicolosi, Guido. “Biotechnologies, Alimentary Fears and the Orthorexic Society.” Tailoring Biotechnologiesvol. 2, no. 3, 2006/07, pp. 37-56.


Nowacek David M. and Rebecca S. Nowacek. “The Organic Foods System: Its Discursive Achievements and Prospects.” College Englishvol. 70, no. 4, 2008, pp. 403-420.


Retzinger, Jean. “The Embodied Rhetoric of ‘Health’ from Farm Fields to Salad Bowls.” Edible Ideologies: Representing Food and Meaning, edited Peter Naccarato and Kathleen LeBesco Albany: State U of New York P, 2008, pp.149-178.


Schell, Eileen. “The Racialized Rhetorics of Food Politics: Black Farmers, the Case of Shirley Sherrod, and Struggle for Land Equity and Access.” Poroi: Journal of the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiryvol. 11, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-22.


Schneider, Stephen. “Good, Clean, Fair: The Rhetoric of the Slow Food Movement.” College Englishvol. 70, no. 4, 2008, pp. 384-402.

Spoel, Philippa, and Colleen Derkatch. “Constituting Community Through Food Charters: A Rhetorical-Genre Analysis.” Canadian Food Studiesvol. 3, no. 1, 2016.


Spoel, Philippa, Harris, R, and Henwood, F. “The Moralization of Healthy Living: Burke’s Rhetoric of Rebirth and Older Adults’ Accounts of Healthy Eating.” Healthvol. 16, no. 6, 2012, 619–635.


Spoel, Philippa, Harris, R, and Henwood, F. “Rhetorics of Health citizenship: Exploring Vernacular Critiques of government’s role in supporting healthy living.” Journal of Medical Humanitiesvol. 35, 2014, pp. 131–147.


Veit, Helen Zoe. Modern Food, Moral Food: Self Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century. Chapel Hill: The U of North Carolina P, 2013.

CFP: Ethical Exposure Essays

Call for “Ethical Exposure” Essays: Ethical Quandaries and Conundrums in RHM Research Practice

Raquel Baldwinson’s (2018) commentary in vol. 1, no. 3-4 of the Rhetoric of Health & Medicineraised important questions for scholars in our field about how we conceptualize, articulate, and advocate for our research ethics. We want to continue this thread of conversation in and around RHM research ethics, expanding on recent RHM explorations about practice-level ethical concerns (e.g., Bivens, 2018; de Hertogh, 2018; Opel, 2018).

As rhetoricians of health and medicine increasingly encounter messy questions in field sites, in online settings, involving vulnerable populations, involving co-authorship with stakeholders, when experimenting with research methods from other fields, within interdisciplinary research teams, etc., we have the opportunity and obligation to critically reflect on, raise questions about, and imagine new possibilities for th ethical dimensions of our research practices. Although national organizations have provided some guidance, the documents are either on broad forms of ethical communication (e.g., NCA’s Credo for Ethical Communication) or on specific types of research (e.g., Association of Internet Researchers’ Ethics statement), prompting Baldwinson to raise the question of whether RHM need its own code or alterative statement of “rhetorical ethics”.

As a move toward collectively responding to this question, we are seeking medium-length essays that expose some of the “behind-the-scenes” ethical quandaries and conundrums encountered and negotiated in our research practices. We use the term “practice” here to emphasize the “actual work and implementation of methods and methodology in the process of performing research” (Melonçon & St. Amant, 2019; see also Teston, 2012; Scott & Melonçon, 2018; Grabill 2006).RHM needs more transparent discussions about the ethical locations, positionalities, disclosures, relationships, engagements, and impacts embedded in our research. We need more discussions of the reflexive negotiations of responding to these quandaries in action.

Thus, we invite 2000-3500 word essays that examine in depth an ethical issue from the practice of research in RHM. We will be selecting 3-4 manuscripts with diverse perspectives about specific ethical conundrums or quandaries faced during any part of a research study. The goal of this featured section within a regular issue is to highlight this important topic and consciously extend the conversation on ethics within RHM. Pieces should

  • Overview the research project, including the primary question(s) driving the inquiry;
  • Offer a thick description and interpretation of the ethical issue, including why it is an ethical issue of broader importance (drawing on one or more ethical frameworks);
  • Reflexively discuss the process of working through this ethical issue and the effects and/or continuing negotiations of this.

Full manuscripts of 2000-3500 words are due to the editors by August 31, 2019 at Please use the subject line: Ethical issues in practice.

We will select the strongest pieces to go through the regular RHM review process. These should appear in the Fall, 2020 issue.

Please let us know if you have questions or want to talk through an idea:



Symposium Decisions 2019 edition

Planning a symposium or conference can be a lot of fun. But, there’s also the downside, and that is, having to tell people no.

Having done a few events, I try to make sure that I am being as kind as possible even with “no” decisions so this post is a way to explain what the difference between an accept and not is when it comes to the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine Symposium.

As I’ve written before at this same time back in 2017, the biggest problem this year is the same as in 2017. The proposals didn’t do what John Swales calls CARS—creating a research space, which he talks about in Chapter 8 **And once you start to understand Swales CARS in relation to your specific area in the larger field, it makes writing proposals for conferences (and getting started on journal manuscripts) so much easier.

The TL;DR version:

  • Establish territory
  • Establish a niche
  • Occupy the niche

Reviewers really like to see the occupation, the move toward telling folks what’s important about your work.  Otherwise, reviewers are left wondering if the presentation will provide any value to participants. See, that’s a big key you have to remember. Reviewers and program chairs have a responsibility to try and provide the best program possible. Proposals are what we have to work with so it’s important as the writer of that proposal to hit all three parts of the CARS model.#

Another challenge is that you need to be careful in not spending too much time talking about how you got interested in the topic. Rather, tell the reviewers what this topic is doing for the field and what you will be doing in your presentation or in the case of the Symposium, what you hope your work in progress will show/do.

Finally, the Symposium is not a typical conference and we’ve always struggled with ways to explain this to folks who have not attended. This detail is important because you are not proposing to give a presentation. You are proposing a larger work in progress that will be diligently and intensely workshopped. The rest of the time at the Symposium is a series of directed conversations.

As the field of the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine continues to grow, we hope we will be able to grow the Symposium along with it. Right now, however, we have a limited number of spots because of the model that funds the event. In 2019, this is the first year we will have a nominal registration fee for tenure-line faculty and a reduced fee for contingent faculty and  for graduate students who want to come but whose papers were not accepted. This is the spot we landed on because we are committed to mentoring and supporting new scholars in the field, while trying to balance that desire with the hard realities and economics of symposium/conference planning.

Wishing you all the best of summers!



** Academic writing for graduate students: Essential skills and strategies. 3rd Edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

#A small disclaimer: is CARS perfect? No. Absolutely, no. But if you use it, you’ll get a helluva lot closer to having something that reviewers can understand and act on.

RHM Journal Accepting Book Reviews

RHM is now accepting traditional book reviews. These book reviews will be assigned to an issue and published as an open access supplement to the journal at

Should you want to a review a book, please use the following guidelines. If you have any questions, contact the Book Reviews Editor, Lora Arduser,

Title/Publication Information

Please provide the information exactly as it appears on the copyright page of the book and provide a link to the publisher’s website.

Title [and Subtitle, if included], Authors [or Editors], Publication City, State: Publisher, Year. Total pages, price format [using the publisher’s format terms]

Methodologies for the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. Lisa Meloncon & J.Blake Scott, Eds. New York, New York: Routledge, 2018. 314 pages, $40.76 paperback, $28.48 electronic. Publisher webpage:–Medicine-1st-Edition/Meloncon-Scott/p/book/9781138235861


In approximately 1,500 to 2,000 words, summarize and analyze the primary thesis of the book. (If necessary, you may take more space.) The review should be divided into two sections (summary and analysis) of approximately equal length.


Answers the questions:

  • What is the primary thesis/argument of the book?
  • How did the author(s) establish and justify the thesis/argument? (Provide a summary for each chapter that traces the development of the thesis/argument)

Answers the questions:

  • What issue(s) or problem(s) does the book attempt to solve? In your opinion, how effective is the book at resolving the issue?
  • What are the major strengths of the book?
  • Who is the primary audience for this book? What will this audience get from reading the book?
  • How does the text fit into the field of RHM? (Compare and contrast to other prominent work.)

References to the book being reviewed only need the page numbers. References to other works should following in-text and reference list guidelines per the journal’s submission policy.

Reviewer (Book Review Author) Information

Reviewer information is provided at the end of the review. You may provide a short personal description and contact information. For example:

Reviewed by: Name, your department, your institution, your email address


Please submit the book review in Microsoft Word format using Times 12 point (double spaced).


When you have completed the book review, please submit by email to:

Please include your preferred email address and telephone number in your email.

RSA 2020 & CCCC 2020

RSA 2020

The RSA 2020 call has come out.

RHM scholars have typically had a strong showing. If you want assistance in forming panels or please join us for Third Thursday on 3-21-19 or find us on Facebook in the Flux group.

CCCC 2020

While the main call has been posted for the CCCCs, the Medical Rhetoric Standing Group has a sponsored panel. Following is the call for the sponsored roundtable panel:

Describing and Deconstructing Rhetoric of Health and Medicine’s Commonplaces

Ralph Cintron (2010) has noted that topoi or commonplaces are “storehouses of social energy” that  “organize our sentiments, beliefs, and actions in the lifeworld” (p. 100).  Similarly, convention chair Julie Lindquist’s CFP describes commonplaces as offering a viable way to unpack a given community’s “beliefs and values,” and, by default, commonplaces provide insight into how a field “defines and defends its borders.”

Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM), of course, is a growing, interdisciplinary field of study marked by what Melonçon and Scott (2018) have called “methodological mutability” or “a willingness or even obligation to pragmatically and ethically adjust aspects of methodology to the phenomena under study”; they make it clear that RHM is still very much in the process of defining its commonplaces and remains tentative about staking out borders. Still, a strong enough corpus of recognized work in RHM might suggest tacit borders to our work worth further consideration as these topoi might very well impede the important project of intentionally and thoughtfully growing the field. At the same time, RHM scholars must be mindful of the ways they are dipping into and out of related fields of study such that those fields’ commonplaces are considered or even honored. This roundtable, thus, will hope to offer insight into commonplaces that are implicit in RHM work in order to deconstruct any “borders” these might be creating and, in turn, provide guidance on how we might  keep our borders fluid and open to new ideas, energies, and participation.

Roundtable Objective

The objective of the roundtable is to foster interactive discussions between and around these issues and among presenters and the audience. To this end, we invite proposals for modified ignite (5-minute) presentations where participants provide an overview of their primary research or a review of existing literature, discussed within the framework of commonplaces or topoi. Each presenter  will be asked to conclude with a question they will pose to the audience to foster discussion. Once all presenters have finished speaking, attendees will break into small groups to discuss the questions/topics presented.

Prospective Topics 

To examine these ideas, individuals are invited to submit proposals for short (5-minute) presentations that will focus on themes and topics such as:

  • What commonplaces characterize existing RHM literature, and how does your work relate to or challenge thesetopoi?
  • Using commonplaces as a framework, how does RHM interact with related disciplines, such as, for example (but certainly not limited to): disability studies, health communication, or the medical humanities?
  • If RHM commonplaces erupt organically, how can we be mindful of their appearance and purposeful in how we support, sustain, or interrupt them?
  • As RHM grows, how can we support work that will keep our borders open to a vibrant variety of perspectives?Submissions

    Please submit 250-word proposals to by April 26, 2019. Submissions from co-authors considered. Queries welcome.

    In your proposal, note the following:

  • The topic/focus of your proposed presentation
  • How you will address the theme of commonplaces in your presentation
  • The final question(s) you will use to engage the audience in a conversation at the end of the presentationResponses will be sent out before the CCCC deadline of May 6, 2019.


RHM activities at the 2019 CCCCs

It’s that time of the year when RHM scholars convene at the CCCC’s conference.

We always have activities planned so we would love to welcome new friends and to catch up with old friends.

Meet the Editors

You can meet the editors of Rhetoric of Health Medicine  at the ATTW Editors’ Roundtable from 3:15-4:30 on 3/12, and at the CCCC Research Network Forum the morning of 3/13.

Come and introduce yourself and tell us about your work.

RHM Happy Hour

Come and hang out and meet folks at the RHM Happy Hour on Thursday, March 14 at 5:00ish at August Henry’s

The location is just a couple of blocks from where the convention center.

Medical Rhetoric Standing Group Business Meeting

As one of the first standing groups and one of the oldest SIGs associated with the CCCCs, we will be meeting on

  • Thursday, March 14 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM  in room 407 of the Convention Center.

We’ll post the official agenda here closer to the meeting, but our main activity of the evening will be to break into small groups and discuss a series of questions of interest to the broader community. These questions and the information/answers generated will help guide the community’s work in the coming year:

  • what are pressing topics that we need more work on?
  • how can be more inclusive in our research practice?
  • what are some effective practices for moving into community based research?
  • how can expand out methodological ethics?
  • what suggestions to get more folks involved in RHM?
  • how can we make our work more public?

Sessions at the CCCCs

We typically pull together the panels that have a clear RHM focus. There are a number of additional presentations scattered throughout. (Thanks to the CCCCs Standing Group Graduate Student Representative, Katie Walkup, for pulling these together.)


C.24 Medical Rhetoric Roundtable: Performing Rhetoric and Performative Rhetorics of Health and Medicine


H.01 Performance as Advocacy, Education, and Action: Health and Medical Education

H.02 Rhetorical Negotiations in the Performance of Health, Medicine, and Disability

I.13 Digital Bodies, Digital Disability: Performing Health Online

L.05 Latina UX Practitioners’ Performative Roles: Case Studies in Health and Risk Communication in Multilingual Populations

Decision Process for RHM Special Issue on Mental Health

31 December 2018 by Lisa Meloncon

Happy New Year’s Eve-

I hope that you’re finding time to rest and recuperate during this down time between terms. Over at the journal, Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, we continue to work hard in moving manuscripts through review, and we’ve also been working through proposals for RHM’s second special issue (in 2020) on the rhetoric of mental health.

And that’s what I want to talk about today. The process we went through for the special issue proposals.

Every journal handles special issues a little differently, and we’re no different at RHM. In our case, we developed our system based on feedback from our editorial board. The system is created to avoid some of what editorial board members—and the editors—felt are problems that sometimes affect special issues, such as less rigorous review standards/easier to get into, the feeling that only friends of the editor were invited, and issues that don’t cohere.

This explanation does three important things: (1) it continues RHM’s dedication to making the review and publishing process as transparent as possible; (2) it provides a type of accountability to the editorial board, the readers , and to the broader RHM community; and, finally, (3) it simply explains the process for those who submitted to this special issue and those that will, hopefully, submit to the journal in the future.

We received 57 proposals, which is a healthy number for a special issue of any journal, and we were quite pleased with this turn out. Contributors spanned a number of RHM related fields (e.g. composition, rhetoric, communication studies, technical and professional communication, and allied health fields, etc.) and held a variety of different ranks and titles (e.g. graduate students, grant-funded researchers, tenured professors, healthcare practitioners, etc.). Cathryn Molly and Drew Holladay, special issue co-editors read anonymous versions of the proposals and selected 12 to move forward to the second state of review for research articles. The main factors that lead proposals to the second round of review: (1) were they clearly connected to mental health and disability and (2) did they include a direct engagement with Rhetoric. (See our captioned video or transcript on what we mean by rhetoric). In addition, the co-editors tried to move forward a diverse set of proposals based on topic and methodology.

Those 12 proposals were then forwarded to Blake Scott (co-editor of RHM) and two members of our editorial board: a mental and health disability specialist, Jenell Johnson and someone versed but not a specialist, Scott Graham. While other members of the editorial board also have expertise, Scott and Jenell represent the two big “sides” of RHM’s audience: English studies (including rhetoric, composition, technical communication and some linguists) and communication studies (including rhetoric, health communication and applied research methods). The three of them were asked to rank the proposals from 1 to 12, with 1 being the best. Each reviewer was familiar with the CFP, but beyond that no other ranking instructions were given because we wanted their responses to be based on their own readings of the information presented in the proposals and their own perspectives of the proposals’ relevance and timeliness.

I collated those responses, while Drew and Cathryn also ranked the anonymous proposals. As co-editors of the special issue, one of Cathryn and Drew’s jobs is to set the focus of the issue. Therefore, they ranked the proposals based on how things talk to each other holistically. A guiding factor, therefore, was how well each individual proposal worked toward a coherent issue that gets a bunch of things represented and shows the breadth of RHM work and influence. To do this, they prioritized diversity in methods, issues, theory/concepts, and sites of study and application.In the end, we accepted seven proposals and have invited those contributors to submit full manuscripts that will be sent through the regular peer review process. This means the proposal acceptance rate was 12%. It is important to note that even though these proposals were accepted, the odds are that at least two to four of the manuscripts will not make it through the peer review process. Unlike many special issues, RHM does not have to fill pages (so to speak), which means that we can maintain our rigorous standards. We will not accept and publish an essay that is not actually ready.

We are excited about the potential this issue holds and look forward to sharing it with you!!

Until then, wishing you health, peace, and joy!

Third Thursdays

Third Thursdays are a dedicated time on the third Thursday of the each month to talk about issues related to your work specifically in RHM and your work in general.

Spring, 2020, 3:00pmET

Access the hangout room

Dial-in number (US): (605) 313-6006
Access code: 351124#
International dial-in numbers:
Online meeting ID: molloycs

Days and Topics

1-16: book versus articles
2-20: planning courses or creating new courses/programs
3-19: tips for working at a teaching institution
4-16: writing approaches (tips for different issues we face with writing)

Fall, 2019, 3:00pmET

The room access information does not change. The room will open a few minutes before the scheduled time.

Meeting number: 643 806 528
Password: RHM3THURS

Join by phone: +1-855-282-6330 US TOLL FREE
Access code: 643 806 528

Sept 19: Early career discussion including job search (how to talk about your RHM work) and other issues in the first few years of your career

Oct 17 : Post tenure career discussion including ways to shift research trajectories, how to prioritize, how to keep research momentum if you start admin responsibilities and whatever is on your mind

Nov 21:  how to structure and plan writing/research projects

Spring, 2019, 3:00pmET

1-17-19: open forum

2-21-19: responding to peer reviews

3-21-19: questions and matching folks re: conference abstracts for 2020

4-18-19:  planning for the summer and writing tips

Fall 2018

9-20-18 at 3:00 pm EDT

Topic: moving conference presentations to journal articles
Facilitators: Lisa Meloncon, Cathryn Molloy, and Blake Scott

10-18-18 at 4:00pm ET

Topic: literature reviews
Facilitators: Cathryn Molloy, Candice Welhausen and  Lisa Meloncon

11-15-18 at 4:00pm ET

Topic: planning for the break