CCCCs Activities

For those that will be attending ATTW and/or CCCCs convention, following are some RHM specific activities.

Happy Hour and SIG Thursday March 15

Happy Hour, 4:30-: will precede the SIG meeting. We’ll be gathering at the Flying Saucer, 101 E 13th St, Kansas City, MO 64106, which is about .3 from the Marriott.

Standing Group Business Meeting: 6:30-7:30
Kansas City Marriott Bennie Moten B


If you’ll be there for ATTW, here are the sessions for

March 13 and 14.

Tuesday, March 13

 Session A6: Tools and Approaches for Inclusively Engaging Users

 Community-Engaged Patient Experience Design: Addressing Medical Paperwork’s Impasses for Somali Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Kari Campeau, University of Minnesota

 Poster and Exhibit Session 11:15am-12:30pm Wyandotte Ballroom 2

Practical Possibility for Increasing Health Access in a Time of Precarity

Barbara Heifferon, Louisiana State University

 Session B2: Visual Design and Design Thinking Wyandotte Ballroom 1 Panel Chair: Deborah Balzhiser, Texas State University

 Precarious Data: Crack, Opioids, and Visualizing a Drug Abuse Epidemic

Candice Welhausen, Auburn University

 Session B5: Critical Discourse Analysis of Technical Communications in Capitalist Medicine Shawnee 2
Panel Chair: Scott Mogull, Texas State University

Medicine as a Business: Contentious Objectives in Medical-Business Genres
Scott Mogull, Texas State University

 The Letter of Medical Necessity as Genre: Who Creates it and Who Controls It
usan L. Popham, Indiana University Southeast

 Techno-scientific Commodities in Late Capitalism: A Shift in the Message from the Pharmaceutical Industry
Ronald F. Lunsford, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Christopher Lunsford, M.D., University of Virginia

Wednesday March 14

 Session D4: Contemporary Public Health Issues Shawnee 2 Panel Chair: Molly Hartzog, Frostburg State University

Pills, politics, and possibility: Communication practices surrounding OxyContin, 1995 to 2007

Michael Madson, Medical University of South Carolina

 Negotiating Addiction Publics with Health Ecologies
eter Cannon, University of South Florida

 Neglected Tropical Diseases: Leveraging the Topos of Definition to Create Exigence
Molly Hartzog, Frostburg State University

 Defining Medical Privacy and Patient Rights: The Case of Nurse Wubbels
Calandra Blackburn, Frostburg State University

  Session E4: Health and Medicine Methods Shawnee 2 Panel Chair: Dawn Opel

Culture, Traditional Beliefs, and Healthcare in Global South Contexts: Lessons for Technical Communicators
Godwin Agboka, University of Houston-Downtown

 “Because nobody should be alone in a dark place”: Mental Health Literacy, Sentiment Analysis, and Enacting Depression
Katie Walkup, University of South Florida

Outbreak at the Vale of Leven: The Technical Storytelling Work of C-Diff Justice
 Kyle Vealey, West Chester University

Charting as Writing: The Role of Writing Stewardship in Improved Healthcare Quality and Outcomes for Underserved Populations
Dawn Opel, Michigan State University
Bill Hart-Davidson, Michigan State University

Thursday, March 15


Where Does It Hurt? Medical Rhetoric and Its Fraught Language

Analysis of the language of medicine and its effects on body, gender, and cultural expectations.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Bennie Moten A

Speakers: Jessica Jorgenson Borchert, Pittsburg State University, KS, “Labor in Language: Technical Communication, Articulation Theory, and the High-Risk Pregnancy”

Marissa McKinley, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, “The #Languaging of the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Body”

Kelly Whitney, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, “Textual Boundaries of Evidence: Making and Erasing Bodies in Medical Statements”

Multilingual/Multimodal Interactions in Context: Dis/ability, Race, Community, and Culture
This panel illustrates the negotiation of languages, modes, and identities enacted by individuals from intersectionally diverse communities.

Kansas City Convention Center: 2504 B

Chair: Stephanie Kerschbaum, University of Delaware, Newark

Speakers: Rachel Bloom-Pojar, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee,

“Navigating Language Variation and Medical Translation with Latinx

Ronisha Browdy, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, “What’s Love

Got to Do with It?: Re ections on Black Women’s Language, Labor,

and (No) Love”
Janine Butler, Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, “What We Learn

from Teaching Hearing, Hard-of-Hearing, and d/Deaf Composition

Laura Joffre Gonzales, University of Texas, El Paso, “Navigating

Language Variation and Medical Translation with Latinx Communities”

Medical Speak: Diversity, Coauthorship, and Ethos

This panel’s research and theory focus on rhetorical diversity, coauthorship, and ethical considerations in the medical health eld.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Yardbird A

Speakers: Yvonne Lee, Kent State University, OH

Dawn Mellinger, Kent State University, OH Sommer Sterud, Kent State University, OH

3:15-4:30 Poster sessions

Languaging and Laboring to Transform Healing

My poster presentation examines how graphic medicine provides a type of third space to subvert biomedical ways of understanding illness.

Speaker: Jessica Lee, Portland Community College, OR

Friday, March 16


Composing Health Data: Research Practices, Policy Impact, and Personal Testimonies
Integrating Kenyan cultural register into research methods, analyzing illness narratives and public policy, and understanding affective dimensions of wearable tness technologies.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Bennie Moten A

Chair: Cheryl Caesar, Michigan State University, East Lansing

Speakers: Miriam Mara, Arizona State University, Phoenix, “Leveraging

Cultural Register to Sharpen International Health and Medicine

Rhetorical Research Methods”
Logan Middleton, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “‘Earning

Your Steps’: Developing an Affective Rhetorical Framework for

Wearable Technologies”
Caitlin Ray, University of Louisville, KY, “Empowering the ‘Wounded

Storyteller’: Arts Organizations, Health Policy, and the Healing Public”

10:20–10:40 a.m.

#StorytellingSavesLives and Sparks a Revolution: Negotiating Intersections of the Personal, Professional, and Academic Writing about mental health for the community and in the classroom intersects with the personal, professional, and academic identity. Speaker: Laura Guill, Purdue University Northwest, Hammond, IN


The Cure That Ails Us: Medical Tropes in Composition Pedagogy

This speaker will explore the signi cance of medical tropes in founding the progressivist writing pedagogy.
Speaker: Edward Comstock, American University, Washington, DC


Rhetorical Listening Approaches in the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine

This panel applies rhetorical listening analysis in medical contexts to generate cross-cultural engagement and communication.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Jay McShann A

Speakers: Janene Amyx Davison, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

Mary De Nora, Texas Tech University, Lubbock
Sheri McClure-Baker, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

Tell Me Where It Hurts: Writing about Health

Eye-tracking study of diabetes patient manuals; patient education to improve cardiac care; analyzing narratives in hospital reviews.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Lester Young A

Speakers: Teresa Henning, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, “Why the Language and Labor of Heart Failure and Patient Compliance Needs Transforming”

Brandon Strubberg, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, “Laboring through ‘Patient-Centered’ Language: Investigating How People with Diabetes Experience Information about Diabetic Complications in Patient Manuals”

Katie Walkup, University of South Florida, Tampa, “Constructing Health Narratives: Identity and Advocacy in Patient Health Writing”


Medical Rhetorics Roundtable: Examining Intersections and Connections within and beyond Our Field
Sponsored by the Medical Rhetoric Standing Group
This interactive roundtable features short presentations that explore ways that we can foster intersectional connections within our eld.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Truman Room B

Chair: Candice Welhausen, Auburn University, AL
Speakers: Janene Amyx Davison, Texas Tech University, Lubbock,

“Foundational Knowledge in Rhetoric of Health and Medicine”
Laura Jackman, Iowa State University, Ames, “Beyond the Intersection of

Paternalism and Neofeminism: Managing Risk and Birthing Decisions” Michael Madson, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston,

“Connecting RHM and Interprofessional Education: Pilot Data from an

Academic and Scienti c Writing Course”
Cathryn Molloy, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA,

“Methodological Approaches to Gaining Access and Recruiting Human Subjects for Health Research in RHM: Making Connections with Research Sites and Participants”

Terry Quezada, University of Texas, El Paso, “Medical Rhetoric and Teaching Technical Writing to Health Professionals”

Responding to Challenges in Healthcare through Varied Methodological Approaches
Scholars working across methods and sub elds will offer a toolkit for work in healthcare research and activism for a general audience.

Kansas City Convention Center: Bartle Room 2207

Speakers: Timothy Amidon, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
Erin Frost, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Andrea Kitta, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Annika Konrad, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Maria Novotny, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Dawn Opel, Michigan State University, East Lansing
Respondent: Michelle Eble, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC



Languaging Stories: Health, Narrative Work, and Research Ethics

This interactive roundtable will engage the challenges of nding, documenting, interpreting, and circulating health stories.

Kansas City Convention Center: Bartle Room 2207

Speakers: Janel Atlas, University of Delaware, Newark
Mary Knatterud, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis

Sarah Singer, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Emi Stuemke, University of Wisconsin, Stout


Healthcare Rhetorics: Culture, Intuition, and Gender

Studies of intercultural communication, the role of embodied intuition in medical documentation, and DIY gender transformation.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Andy Kirk B

“Intuition in Medical Documentation: Exploring How Healthcare Providers Translate Embodied Knowledge”

Chair: Bridget Kriner, Cuyahoga Community College, Westlake, OH

Speakers: Elizabeth L. Angeli, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI,

Lillian Campbell, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, “Intuition in Medical Documentation: Exploring How Healthcare Providers Translate Embodied Knowledge”

Avery Eden eld, Utah State University, Logan, “DIYHRT: Gender Transformation and Tactical Technical Communication”

Henrietta Shirk, Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte, “Medical Miscommunication: A Case Study on Teaching Intercultural Competencies in Professional Communication”


Authentic Voices: Language Choices, Multimodal Projects, and Medical School Narratives
Students disrupt academic language conventions, create engaged and personal multimodal projects, and re ect on illness narratives.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown: Julia Lee B

Chair: Philippe Meister, Iowa State University, Ames
Speakers: Emily Ferris, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA,

“Patient Stories: Narrative and Re ection in Medical School Personal

Shuwen Li, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Authenticity and

Expression: A Student’s Dwelling in a Multimodal Project” Michael McCamley, University of Delaware, Newark, “A Way with

Words: Disrupting Academic English and Unleashing Students’ Language Choices”





Past to Present Historical Case

by Lisa Meloncon

I love when my different fields converge in really, really interesting ways, which was the case this past week when an intriguing internal training document from 1996 (that I have not been able to 100% verify) popped up on social media.

The merging of fields is that this training material (which is clearly a form of technical/professional writing) is all about how to sell Oxycontin (rhetoric of health and medicine). It’s absolutely fascinating on so many, many levels. From it’s use of “good storytelling” (also known a narrative) using the Wizard of Oz (yes, the Wizard of Oz, which raises all sorts of its own questions and concerns) to focusing in on the need to make a clear and persuasive pitch to physicians. The plan for the presentation is classic rhetoric and it highlights in some really tried and true ways of how to get your message across. The ending with the finding the pot of gold is just priceless!

These materials also contain the oft-cited sentence about the addiction potential of the drug: “Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.” (it’s on the top of the second page, end of first paragraph). This one sentence was not only in the marketing materials, but allowed to be printed in the drug’s FDA approved “label.” It’s been the highlight of several lawsuits filed. Thus, it furthers the area of the rhetoric of health and medicine to legal and policy

Beyond just this one sentence, the marketing materials are a classic case study in how to use language to persuade people. Ala rhetoric! I don’t have the time right now to do even a mini-analysis that would do this document justice. But, it’s absolutely something that I will use in a number of different classes as an historical case that has lots to teach us about the creation and production of current health communication.

But, of course, there are all sorts of other issues raised in this short document not to mention the wide number of ethical issues and concerns related to the drug itself but also in the approach to marketing. Hindsight some 20 years later makes us read this document differently, but it also provides us some important insights into how we should be approaching current complex communication situations ethically.

The American Journal of Public Health article,The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy, gives some history and current info (with a good bibliography) on the marketing of the drug.

Enjoy the short read of the training materials–and I’d be happy to post an analysis if someone with more time wants to do one! 🙂





Decision Process for RHM special issue

28 December 2017 by Lisa Meloncon

Happy Break Everyone –

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’ve been working hard on getting the first issue moving forward (look for more details coming in the early part of January!) and we’ve also been working through proposals for RHM’s first special issue (in 2019) on the rhetoric of public 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.

So we adopted a three step review process that we want to explain. 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 (or technically future readers since we’re working toward our first issue), 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 48 proposals, which is a healthy number for a special issue of any journal, and considering the broadness of the topic (public health), we were quite pleased with this turn out. Contributors spanned a number of RHM related fields (e.g. bioethics, English, communication studies, law, etc.), represented a number of different health related institutions (e.g. medical research centers, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, etc.), and held a variety of different ranks and titles (e.g. graduate students, grant-funded researchers, tenured professors, healthcare practitioners, etc.). Jennifer Malkowski, special issue co-editor, and I independently read and ranked the proposals. We then compared rankings and notes to advance 16 proposals that were clearly connected to the topic of public health, publics theorizing, and included a direct engagement with Rhetoric. (See our captioned video or transcript on what we mean by rhetoric). Keep in mind, too, that following RHM’s broader goals of ensuring multiple perspectives, Jen and I have different backgrounds. Jen was trained in communication studies, while I have a mixed bag of a background and am firmly situated within technical writing/communication.

Those 16 proposals were then made anonymous and forwarded to Blake Scott (co-editor of RHM) and two members of our editorial board who are specialists in “publics,” Cynthia Ryan and Gary Kreps. While other members of the editorial board also have expertise, Cynthia and Gary 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 16, 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 Jen ranked the blinded proposals herself using a table to compare each contribution’s theoretical contribution, health issue/topic of interest, research method, disciplinary affiliation, and the nature of the artifact being examined. Jen did not see the rankings from the three reviewers when she was making her rankings. As co-editor of the issue, one of Jen’s jobs is to set the focus of the issue. Therefore, she 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, she 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 14.5%, which is lower than many special issues and also a tad lower than many of the acceptance rates of most journals. It is important to note that even though these proposals were accepted, the odds are that at least two 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 and we will not accept and publish an essay that is not actually ready. We will circulate a revised special issue manuscript acceptance rate at the time of publication.

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!






RHM Bibliography Project

We’re working toward getting our bibliography in a better working order. This has been a need and desire of folks in the community for some time and is now an official project of the RHM journal and the CCCCs Standing Group on Medical Rhetoric.

So the first thing that we need from you is to help us crowdsource getting the bibliography up to date by adding your work (from 2015 forward) to our google doc:

Then, if you’re willing to help out with tagging some of the existing list (there’s over 800 of them) then get in touch with Ellie Browning <>. She’ll gather together a list of volunteers and then we’ll get those folks together who want to help out in early November and lay out a more detailed plan of action.



Upcoming Meet and Greets

To keep building our wonderful community (and so we have an excuse to chat about medrhet over adult beverages), we are offering two conference meet-and-greets in the fall.

One is for the Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference and the other is for the Conference on Community Writing.

If you situate your work in the rhetoric of health and medicine, and will be at either (or both) of these conferences, we invite you to join us! 🎉 🦄

The meet-and-greet for FemRhet takes place Thursday, October 5th from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in The Marriott at the University of Dayton lobby. Whether you are a seasoned scholar or just want to learn more about intersections between feminist and medical rhetorics, we encourage you to join us for an hour of casual conversation, mentorship, and collaboration.

The meet-and-greet for CCW will take place during the conference’s “Networking Happy Hour” from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 19th in Ballroom East.

We’ll send out reminders about each meet-and-greet via social media as we get closer to each conference date.

If you have questions, please email Medical Rhetoric Social Media Co-Directors Lori Beth De Hertogh at and Maria Novotny at


Symposium Planning, 2019

Having just completed another successful symposium, it’s time for the community to think about and work on what the next iteration of the symposium will look like.

Just a brief overview. The current model of the symposium is not easily sustainable since it has been wholly funded from University of Cincinnati sources. What that means is that folks don’t pay a registration fee and a continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, and all day coffee/drinks are also provided to the participants for free. Funding pays for the room and the technology,  and it has also paid the expenses and an honorarium for some of the keynotes and featured speakers (this has varied widely per year but at minimum all invited featured speakers had their expenses paid). What this means is that the current model limits the number of participants that can attend since the symposium is charged per person. The average cost has been ~$15,000.

At the 2017 event, we had a session specific to talking about and thinking through the numerous issues associated with the planning of the symposium. Most importantly were discussions on what the event should feel like to ensure that we didn’t lose the ability to have engaged conversations with one another.

Following is an attempt at a summary of the comments for possibilities for the next iteration of the symposium.

Staying at every other year, in the early Fall was the consensus of the group. At this point, we are basing our planning on an early September date in 2019.

Financial Model
It seemed there was a consensus around charging a modest registration fee for attending. The fees that most seemed to circle around were

  • 75-150 for full-time faculty (realistically it would need to be at least 100 for the model to work)
  • half the price for contingent faculty
  • graduate students for free

This model does not mean local hosts could not attempt to find funding or that we couldn’t try another model (say through sponsorships of some type), but it did seem we needed to start charging a fee to give us more flexibility in planning.

feedback was split on whether the symposium should stay in Cincinnati or be moved. The rationale for keeping it in Cincinnati was the inclusive of the Kingsgate Conference Center and Hotel; it’s location within the city; it’s central proximity geographically and ease of getting there. All of these make it a reasonable choice. As Lisa mentioned as a related model, medieval scholars have gathered in Kalamazoo, MI for over fifty years.

The alternate idea of moving locations and having interested folks take over as local host also had its appeal. The biggest rationales for this was to move it around for convenience of geographic location; grow the community by inviting others to take on leadership roles; and inject new ideas into the planning.  Until the financial aspects are situated, it is difficult to see how to move the location.

There were numerous suggestions to determine a financial model in Cincinnati (working with the known entity) for 2019 and then move it in 2021.

As noted above, the size has been kept relatively small (40-60 people) due in large part to finances. There seemed to be a relative consensus of growing the number of people who could attend to up to 120, but most thought 80-100 was more reasonable to shoot for, at least in the 2019 iteration.

There was also agreement to keep the graduate student to faculty ratio roughly the same as it now. (See below for additional ideas to include both more graduate students and those people whose proposals may not be accepted.)

Leverage connections to other events
There was an interesting idea to work toward a more formalized strategy to extend symposium conversations–particularly around works in progress–to other venues. RHM scholars have created spaces at other disciplinary events so the idea was to formalize those by making time and space to gather and discuss works in progress (to include those who may have been rejected from the symposium). This could encourage more graduate student participation, as well as general participation.

This means we could look to work with those in RSA, NCA, CCCC, etc. to coordinate time and space for RHM scholars to meet and discuss/share their work. This way the spirit of the symposium works-in-progress and continue and nurture our scholarly endeavors.

In addition, in off years, we could hold writing workshops/retreats (in person or online) to move projects forward.

Some other interesting ideas

  • have the symposium CFP be a “live” version of a special issue topic for RHM, the journal
  • include a state of the field at the symposium that would be published in RHM
  • have a session that focuses on a series of recent works and talks about things such as questions that weren’t answered; methodological considerations; how to build on the work (even if we don’t agree)

Action item:

If you are interested in being part of the RHM Symposium Planning Committee, please email Lisa ( OR by October 2.


Talking about CARS and Proposals

by Lisa Meloncon

The impetus for this post is to only have to write something once. Taking two steps back…the Symposium for the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine 2017 generated a large number of proposals. A pretty sizeable subset of those proposals were submitted by graduate students. This makes my heart get all warm and fuzzy because it means we have a strong next generation of RHM scholars. As I usually do, I offered to give them their feedback, but as I was beginning to copy and paste the feedback from the reviewers and prepared to add additional information, I heard my good friend, T. Kenny Fountain’s voice in my head.

See Kenny and I have talked a lot about proposal writing and writing in general. He’s one of my go to resources for all sorts of things (not to mention he’s just an awesome–and funny–human being), and we have often talked about professional development issues around writing.

So when I was reading the reviews for the Symposium proposals, I kept going back to those conversations and realized that many of the proposals (and not just from the graduate students) suffered from a common proposal problem. They didn’t do what John Swales calls CARS—creating a research space, which he talks about in Chapter 8 of Academic writing for graduate students: Essential skills and strategies. 3rd Edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

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. You can find a short summary of it at the UMass Amherst Writing Center.

The TL;DR version:

  • Establish territory
  • Establish a niche
  • Occupy the niche

It’s this last one—occupy—that was a major obstacle in most of the proposals. There wasn’t a clear occupation, particularly the proposal lacked a tentative answer to the “so what?” question. I get it that as graduate students or when working on a new project that you may not know really what the project is doing or what the contribution or implications may be. But, surely, you’ve read enough and designed your study thoroughly enough that you have a tentative answer to what your research question or problem will do for the field.

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.

(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.)

When you’re establishing your territory and your niche, it’s also VERY IMPORTANT to be clear about what your actual research question is or what problem you’re trying to solve. Folks need to know what’s guiding the actual research process.

So here are a couple of comments from reviewers. These—and variations of them—were written on almost every graduate student proposal (and many of the not graduate student proposals that were not accepted):

 This is an interesting idea, but the bulk of the proposal focuses on providing the background for the case with very scant discussion of what actual research related to the case will entail…the majority of the content needs to focus on the research questions to be address (which is not explicitly stated), describing eh method used, and the contribution/significance of this research in relation to RHM, which is somewhat implied but not central to this entry.

The details of the proposal are not grounded in the research in the field, and the exact nature of the approach (i.e. why certain things are bing done/proposed to be done) is ambiguous and unsupported….one cannot simply say “rhetorical analysis” and assume the reviewer knows what will be done (i.e., how the actual research and analysis will be conducted).

Keep in mind that every conference has a reviewer pool that has senior and mid-career scholars in it. That means that the reviewers can in some ways figure out what it is you’re trying to do. BUT, when your proposal is being rated against other proposals, the ones where the reviewer has to “figure it out” will surely be rated lower than the others.

It’s your job as the writer/author of the proposal to make it clear as to what you’re doing. This is where something like CARS can really come in handy. It can help you get started and also encourage you to ask critical questions of the proposal once you have it drafted.

What makes the work of organizing something like the Symposium worthwhile is being able to get an insiders view to all the great projects in process. I hope this helps y’all the next time you go to write a proposal (or start an outline of a journal article or book chapter).

Happy summer writing!




Call for Assistant Editors for RHM journal

Call for Assistant Editors for Rhetoric of Health & Medicine

We seek two Assistant Editors to work with us on the new journal, Rhetoric of Health & Medicine (RHM), published by the University of Florida Press. To get a description of the journal, go to

The journal will have a robust, dynamic website and social media presence. One of the primary purposes of both is to give the journal a public-facing presence, to help connect its research to broader groups of stakeholders (e.g., practitioners, policymakers, publics) who could benefit from it. To this end, the journal’s website and social media could feature: 1) accessible overviews of the journal’s published research; 2) engaging video or podcast interviews with research authors (and perhaps participants); 2) commentaries by expert rhetoricians on timely topics. The other primary purpose of the journal’s Web presence, of course, is to promote the journal as a scholarly forum among rhetoricians and other scholars.

Working with the editors, the two assistant editors will shape RHM’s website and social media strategies and content. Initially, the assistant editors’ responsibilities will likely include:

  • Marketing the journal and key content through social media outlets;
  • Assisting authors in marketing their work;
  • Arranging and completing video or podcast interviews with authors or other rhetoricians around topics that align with journal issues;
  • Writing accessible overviews of published work and its implications for public audiences;
  • Helping to coordinate the journal’s marketing with affiliate organizations;
  • Helping to build the RHM community through encouraging subscriptions and submissions online and at various conferences.

We anticipate that the two assistant editors would together need to devote 3-5 hours a week with more time right before and after an issue is published.

Applications should include:

  • A brief statement that summarizes your interest in the position;
  • A brief description of any ideas for public-facing marketing and for collaborating with the other assistant editor;
  • A cv.

Send applications by April 24, 2017 to

Initial queries or questions should be directed to either Lisa Meloncon ( or Blake Scott, co-editors (

CCCC panels and activities

For those of you who are more on the composition and writing studies side of the house, the CCCCs is coming up, March 15-19, 2017 in Portland.

Mark your calendars for the following:

March 16 at 5:00: RHM happy hour at Spirit of 77, which is just a block or so from the Convention Center.

March 16 from 6:30-7:30: Medical Rhetoric SIG in B112

Related Sessions

Thanks to Lora Arduser for pulling these together and to others for adding their own sessions. Quite a bit of RHM and related activity!!

G.38 Feminist Historiography: Uncovering Rhetorical Activism
Panelists consider how religion, science, and “professionalism” both
constrain and liberate women writers.

H.36 Intuition, Empathy, and Care in Medicine and Nonprofit
Panelists consider questions of empathy, care, and intuition in medicine and nonprofit organizations.

I.18 From STEM to STEAM: Analyzing Medical Rhetoric and
Personal Narrative in Professional Writing
This panel analyzes the movement toward narrative in medical discourse and the incorporation of the humanities in the WID classroom.

J.05 Rhetorics of Health and Medicine: A Roundtable
Examining Ways to Sustain Growth and Cultivate New
Sponsored by the Medical Rhetoric Standing Group
The roundtable addresses questions about how to sustain growth and cultivate new opportunities in the field of medical and health rhetoric.

B.16 Transitions and Transfers in Technical and Professional
Explorations of transfer and transitioning into the workplace.

B.36 Issues of Public Health: Strategies for Public Intellectual
Various perspectives on the idea of the public intellectual.

D.22 Local and Global Demands on Technical and Professional
Communication across Contexts in Latin America
This panel examines local and global demands on communication
practices in Spanish for engineering and public health across Latin

E.38 Thinking Inclusively and Cultivating Empathy: Teaching
Writing to Future Professionals
This interactive panel proposes professional writing course revisions
toward cultivating inclusivity and empathy in future professionals.

J.41 Reproductive Discourses as Sites for Rhetorical
Cultivation of Social Action
This panel considers the complex intersections between women’s
reproductive health and the discourses that mediate their bodies.

K.31 Ethics of Care and the Teaching of Technical
Four perspectives on feminist approaches to health communication.

K.52 The Nonrational/Nonspeaking Subject: A Disability-
Studies Analysis through Narrative, Qualitative Research,
and Philosophical Inquiry

AW.12 Engaging Disability and Accessibility in Class
Assignments: Integrating Disability Studies in the Fabric
of Comp and Technical Communication Curriculum
Twelve experts in small, interactive groups train composition and
professional writing instructors to design disability- and accessibility focused assignments.

A.13 Cultivating Critical Connections: Case Studies and
Microhistories of Composition and Corporatization,
Disability and Diversity
Four studies of four very different institutional contexts will be used to connect disability services and writing programs.

A.24 Medical Narratives—Cultivating Stories, Voices, Selves,
Knowledge, Action
This interactive roundtable focuses on medical narratives as forms of creative nonfiction in composition teaching and rhetorical research.

A.37 Cultivating Accessibilty and Inclusion through Disability
Pedagogy and Universal Design
This session examines student learning environments in relation to
universal design principles and inclusive learning.

B.47 Past the Law: Moving from Legal to Just in Disability
Questioning ableist discourses of accommodations via new rhetoric that focuses on advocacy over obligation.

C.41 Rhetorics of Disability: Cultivating Change across
Discourse Communities and Developing Connections for
This panel explores disability rhetorics in popular and academic cultural arenas to bring awareness of representation and inclusivity.

D.20 Composing Activist Spaces: The Spatial Rhetorics of
Civil, Disability, and Men’s Rights Movements
This panel investigates how activists compose new meanings of space to argue for inclusion, rights, and justice.

D.43 Composing Medical Humanities: Innovative Writing
This panel considers innovative approaches to composing in the spaces of interdisciplinary medical humanities outreach and instruction.

E.47 Rhetoric and Disability: Neurodiversity, Communication
Practices, and Self-Advocacy
Panelists discuss the rhetorical affordances offered by the communicative practices of neurodiverse and disabled communities.

G.46 Cultivating Change in Graduate Education: (Re)thinking
Training for Politically Progressive Community Projects
Through four snapshots of university-community partnerships, we call for more preparation for politically progressive community work.

H.05 More Than Writing through It: Self-Care, Disability, and
Rhetorical Practice
Sponsored by the Disabilities Studies Standing Group
This panel approaches care from a rhetorical disability studies perspective to challenge the normative nature of writing practices.

H.50 “Cripping” the Writing Program: Disability and Policy
beyond the Ableist Script
Panel critically examines policy documents, specifically the syllabus, as a means to move beyond the ableist script.

J.38 Remediating Cross-Disciplinary Capacities: Digital
Humanities, Social Media, Fan Studies, and Disability
Cultivating capacity at the intersections of composition and the digital humanities, social media, fan studies, and disability rhetoric.

E.42 A Rhetoric of Empathy to Build Audience Accessibility to
Medical Research
The speakers will discuss the process of converting medical texts to
patient manuals to include empathy to build access to medical writing.

Session K, please consider “Discursive Agency in Illness: Empowering Everyday Writers to Cultivate Critical Communities”



CFP for special issue of TCQ

Download CFP

Nearly twenty years ago, the landmark special issue on “Medical Rhetoric” was published in Technical Communication Quarterly. Since then, research in this area has flourished, with scholars publishing numerous books, articles, and special issues on the topic. The editors of that special issue, Barbara Heifferon and Stuart Brown, noted how the humanities—specifically rhetoric and technical communication—could “suggest alternative discursive practices” in healthcare workplaces (p. 247). Their goal was to reunite the disciplines of rhetoric and medicine, a split that can be dated back to Platonic times (Bell et al., 2000).

Following the lead of that TCQ special issue, editors of special issues in other journals have worked to position medical rhetoric within the broader field of the medical humanities and in relation to other healthcare fields. In 2005, the Journal of Business and Technical Communication published a special issue on “The Discourses of Medicine.” In the editor’s introduction, Ellen Barton noted the interdisciplinary breadth of the field. The discourses of medicine, she pointed out, had become a space where the humanities, the social sciences, and medicine merged. Other special issues narrowed the scope of the field by focusing on topics such as online health communication (Koerber & Stills, 2008), the relationship between writing and medicine (Haas, 2009), the importance of publics in healthcare issues (Keränen, 2014), and the centrality of communication design to health-related fields (Meloncon & Frost, 2015). These collections further refined and clarified the research scope of the field.

Recently, though, some researchers in this field have been leaving behind the title of “medical rhetoric” in order to draw a distinction between themselves and the medical humanities. They have adopted the title “Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM),” which is simultaneously more specific and more expansive than medical rhetoric. In advocating for the term “RHM,” Blake, Segal, and Keränan ask scholars to engage “in programs of research that complement, but are different from, programs of research in bioethics, medical humanities, health communication, or the allied health professions” (2013, p. 2). The medical humanities, as Keränan argues, are concerned with “humane—and distinctly human—dimensions of health and medicine” (2014). To query these dimensions, medical humanities scholars traditionally use theoretical frameworks and methods from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Alternatively, as Blake, Segal, and Keränan argue, RHM scholars should “query medicine’s epistemology, culture, principles, practices, and discourses” with the goal of improving areas of medical practice (2013, p. 2).

In this special issue, we are looking for articles that explore the intersections and tensions between RHM and the medical humanities. At this nascent stage in the field’s development, we wonder whether separating RHM from the medical humanities might curtail opportunities for research, curriculum development, and engagement. Separating too early could have unintended ideological and practical repercussions; it could restrict research funding opportunities, and it might limit our access to political capital. Ideologically, this split risks reinforcing an outmoded but still existent two-culture division between STEM and the liberal arts, undermining the re-unification of medicine and rhetoric that Heifferon and Brown (2000) thought medical rhetoric could achieve. For practical reasons, we are concerned that such a split could also potentially cut RHM researchers off from the financial and political resources that are currently flowing into the medical humanities, which is one of the fastest growing areas in academia today, with universities like Yale, Ohio State, and Baylor adding medical humanities programs to their curriculums.

As we approach the 20-year mark from that original special issue in TCQ, we would like to turn our attention back to defining the fields of medical rhetoric, RHM, and the medical humanities. Similar to Heifferon and Brown’s (2000) goal to restore the natural connections between rhetoric and medicine, we aim to learn how two related areas—RHM and the medical humanities—can mutually inform each other. This CFP invites submissions that put these areas into conversation and engage questions like the following:
Building on Blake, Segal, and Keränan’s (2013) observation that RHM complements but is different from the medical humanities, how can RHM complement the medical humanities? How can the medical humanities complement RHM?
How can theoretical frameworks and methods used in RHM and the medical humanities intersect in ways that allow the fields to work together?
How can RHM scholars participate in and contribute to the medical humanities? Likewise, how can scholars in the medical humanities participate in RHM?
In what ways can research in the medical humanities be applied to healthcare workplaces, similar to RHM?
In what ways can RHM and medical humanities scholars make a meaningful impact on the medical field, broadly defined?
With the advent of telemedicine, the medical workplace has become distributed across time and location. How has this shift impacted RHM and the medical humanities? How can these areas contribute to understanding telemedicine?
How has RHM scholarship impacted technical communication? In what ways can the medical humanities impact technical communication? What RHM and medical humanities theoretical frameworks, methods, or findings can be imported into technical communication?

This issue is scheduled for January 2018. Please email 500-word proposals to Elizabeth Angeli ( and Richard Johnson-Sheehan ( by the deadline of January 17, 2017.  For accepted proposals, complete manuscripts will be due by July 17, 2017. In the meantime, we welcome questions via email from potential contributors.