Category Archives: blog

CFP: Teaching Approaches to RHM

Download CFP in *.pdf

For a special section of RHM, we invite shorter, 2000-3500-word essays that discuss responsive and innovative approaches to teaching that draw on and possibly contribute to the rhetoric of health and medicine (broadly defined). The goal of this featured special section within a regular issue is to highlight this topic and begin pedagogical conversations on the importance of merging together our teaching and research interests.

Members of the RHM community have found responsive and inventive ways to reimagine our courses and pedagogies and to facilitate student learning, as evidenced by the recently publicized examples of Jordyn Jack’s History of Writing class in which students wrote primary-source journals about their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic ( or Cynthia Ryan’s Writing and Medicine course in which students grappled with the “complexity of this virus and its potential to affect us divergently” ( What these courses show is RHM’s dexterity to adapt to current events within the context of our courses, while still grounding students in the working knowledge of the field.

While we welcome submissions on any topics that fit this special section’s focus, we are especially interested in pedagogical approaches that illustrate practices and approaches to teaching that focus on racism and interlocking systems of oppression as public health (and/or other health or medical) issues.

Essays can focus on courses, projects or assignments, and/or pedagogical approaches at various levels of college curricula, from first-year writing to M.D. programs. Essays can also focus on teaching approaches in co- or extra-curricular and community contexts. We ask that essays address

  • the contextualized exigencies for developing the class,
  • challenges and successes of implementing the approaches in the classroom, and
  • implications for the field and/or other instructors adapting the approach.

Ideally, essays will discuss how the teaching approach not only draws on RHM questions and conversations but also contributes to RHM knowledge-making. We ask that essays include reflexive discussions about participants’ positionalities and experiences. Essays may include parts of illustrative student work, with permission given, and/or curricular materials to be included as appendices (and do not count in the word count).

Full manuscripts of 2000-3500 words are due by Monday, November 30, 2020 at Please use the subject line: Teaching practices and approaches

We will select the strongest pieces (3-6) to go through the expedited RHM review process. Accepted peer-reviewed essays would likely appear in the 4.4 issue in 2021.

We’d welcome the opportunity to answer your questions or to talk through your ideas:



Race and Racism in Health and Medicine: A Working Bibliography

Race and Racism in Health and Medicine: A Working Bibliography for Rhetoric of Health and Medicine

August 11, 2020

In June 2020, the CCCC Medical Rhetoric Standing Group released a statement affirming that Black lives matter. As part of our commitment to action, we have collated this working bibliography of resources relevant to RHM teaching, research, and practice in support of the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. 

Currently, the bibliography is organized loosely by discipline and source material into the following sections:

  1. Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM)
  2. Health Communication
  3. Other Humanities and Social Science 
  4. Medicine
  5. Public-Facing (journalism, podcasts, TED talks, etc.)

Look for the full bibliography here.(*opens in a new window)


RHM’s Response to Racial Injustice

By: J. Blake Scott, Lisa Melonçon, Cathryn Molloy, Co-Editors, Rhetoric of Health and Medicine

“I can’t breathe,” 30-year-old Brooklyn teacher Rana Zoe Mungin told an ambulance driver. The driver insinuated that this was caused by a panic attack and not the virus that causes COVID-19—the virus for which she’d been denied testing twice, and the virus that would later end Mungin’s life (see Brito). As Rana’s sister astutely observed, race played a substantial role in the care that Mungin did not receive. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t suddenly usher in, but rather has exacerbated, racial disparities and mistreatment in health and medicine that have always been a shameful feature of U.S. healthcare. Likewise, as many in writing studies may remember, black activist June Jordan wrote in 1985 about the already-then-longstanding problem of police brutality toward and unlawful murder of black bodies.

We mourn Mungin and all of the black lives lost to COVID-19. We recognize such losses as part of racist and deeply enraging realties in the institutional practices of and people’s everyday lived experiences with health and medicine. We also recognized that these realities are related to other longstanding patterns, and crises, of racial injustice, including educational and economic inequalities and the anti-black law enforcement violence that caused the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Eric Garner, Jonathan Ferrell, and so many others. Indeed, a growing number of U.S. medical and health organizations have specified discriminatory law enforcement violence as a public health issue. As we compose this statement, we are keenly aware of its capacity to be read as merely performative or as simply too little, too late, and we understand that the changes needed to further recognize, ameliorate, and redress healthcare and other forms of racial injustice must be enacted through a sustained commitment over time, and must focus both inward and outward and involve both individual and collective action. Still, we are loath to let any silence be mistaken for complacency or ambivalence, and we pledge to help foster such a sustained commitment in the rhetoric of health and medicine (and beyond).

As co-editors of RHM, we acknowledge an unacceptable, relative dearth in our field’s body of work about racial injustice, and our own lack of action to redress this in our own roles as fellow scholars in and stewards of the field. We commit to do more and better in cultivating, sponsoring, publishing, and promoting scholarship that addresses racism and interlocking systems of oppression as public health (and/or other health or medical) issues. This is not to say that we will not continue to encourage rhetorically inflected scholarship about a range of topics, but we also don’t see these two goals as distinct, as racial and other forms of injustice and oppression permeate health and medicine. Accordingly, we strongly encourage conversations about manuscript ideas (email to set up an appointment) and submissions–as commentaries, persuasion briefs, dialogues, research articles, and alternative forms that you might propose–about these urgent and wicked (in both senses of the word) problems.

We will elaborate on ways we (as editors and as a field) can enact our commitment to addressing these gaps in a future editors’ introduction. For now, though, we join others in our field and beyond in condemning anti-black law enforcement violence and other forms of systemic racism as urgent but also longstanding public health crises. We acknowledge that academic scholarship and its infrastructures has participated in and perpetuated the inequities and systemic forms of violence that must be redressed; we accept responsibility for our roles in such injustices.

Although we are doubtful that medical rhetoric or RHM as a field has done enough to claim that we are in solidarity with the movement (and not just the slogan) of #BlackLivesMatter, we are very thankful for, and express our solidarity with, the statement developed by the officers CCCC Medical Rhetoric Standing Group–Amy Reed, Lucía Durá, Molly Kessler, Danielle Stambler, Kelly Pender, and Erin Fitzgerald.

We appreciate the way they highlight (in ways that we did not in our last editors’ introduction) “the decades of research led by Black scholars and activists” on how “racism negatively affects Black people’s health”; we endorse their call for racial justice and their affirmation of the need for protest; we echo their “support for Black colleagues, students, and community members”; and we applaud their work in identifying potential actions to support and communication about Black health to amplify. Regarding the importance of protest, we want to affirm the “Open letter advocating for an anti-racist public health response to demonstrations against systemic injustice occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic,” written by infectious disease experts from the University of Washington and now signed by over 1,000 health professionals.

To aid our collective conversation and efforts to better enact RHM advocacy of racial justice, we have compiled three lists, with links, below: 1) information/resources about racial equity and social justice related to the COVID-19 pandemic; 2) statements by other professional organizations in rhetorical studies and intersecting areas addressing anti-black violence and racial injustice; and 3) statements by U.S. professional health organizations about racism and police brutality or violence as a public health issue.

Information about and Resources for COVID-19 Racial Equity and Social Justice:
(all links open in a new window)

Racial Equity Tools, COVID-19 Racial Equity and Social Justice Resources

American Medical Association (AMA), COVID-19 Health Equity Resources

NAACP, Ten Equity Implications of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak in the United States

Statements by Other Organizations in Rhetoric and Composition Studies about Anti-Black Violence and Racial Injustice:
(all links open in a new window)

Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) Board of Directors’ Statement Condemning Anti-Black Violenc

Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric & Composition, In Response to Racial Injustice and White Supremacist Violence

ATTW President’s Call to Action to Redress Anti-Blackness and White Supremacy

National Communication Association, Officer Letter to Members in Solidarity and Sympathy

Statements by U.S. Professional Health Organizations (or their leaders) about Racism (including Racist Police Violence) as a Public Health Issue (all links open in a new window):

American Public Health Association (APHA), Racism Is an Ongoing Public Health Crisis That Needs Our Attention Now

American Public Health Association (APHA), Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue

American Medical Association (AMA) President and Board Chair, Police Brutality Must Stop

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health

American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), Statement on the Death of George Floyd

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Condemns All Forms of Racism

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Statement on Police Brutality and Racism in America and Their Impact on Health

American College of Physicians (ACP), Internists “Gravely Concerned” about Discrimination and Violence by Public Authorities and Others

Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), American Heart Association (AHA), and American College of Cariology (ACC), Joint Statement on Health Equity, Social Justice and Civil Unrest

American Lung Association (ALA), When You Can’t Breathe, Nothing Else Matters

American Psychiatric Association (APA), APA Condemns Racism in All Forms, Calls for End to Racial Inequalities in U.S.

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology in America (SHEA) Statement on the Public Health Concerns of People of Color


Brito, Chrisopher. (2020, April 29). “Beloved New York City teacher dies from coronavirus after family claims she was denied testing twice.” CBS News.

Decision process for SI on Chronicity

23 April 2020  by Lisa Melonçon

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 fourth (!)  special issue on the rhetoric of chronicity.

As I’ve outlined previously, we do special issues  a little differently than many journals.  In our case, we developed our system based on feedback from our editorial boarding the broader community. 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 42 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.). Lora Anderson and Jeff Bennett, special issue co-editors read anonymous versions of the proposals and selected 16 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 theme 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 16 proposals were then forwarded to Blake Scott (co-editor of RHM), a member of editorial board, and a reviewer from the RHM community.  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. As co-editors of the special issue, one of Lora and Jeff’s jobs is to set the focus of the issue. Therefore, when reviewing rankings and the proposals they made the decisions on how proposals talked 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. 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 17%. It is important to note that even though these proposals were accepted, they still have to go through the RHM review process. Unlike many special issues, RHM does not have to fill pages (so to speak), which means that we are committed to publishing the strongest essays as possible.

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!


Communicating About COVID-19

cross-posted with permission from the author

by: Kirk St.Amant

Download a PDF of this information

The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting communication professionals to examine ways they might help their communities. As the pandemic unfolds, the question becomes: How can communication professionals meaningfully intervene in this crisis?  There are, of course, concrete and needed offers of help in the form of making needed supplies, like masks, and in coordinating local activities, like food drop off and pick up.

A key problem, however, remains: The growing, and, in some locations, already catastrophic strain on local healthcare systems as increasing numbers of individuals seek care.  This is an area in which communication professionals can make important contributions.

One missing and needed resource is informational materials that help address local situations. The objective is to reduce the demand on communities by providing informational and instructional materials for understanding the COVID-19 crisis.  This is where communication professionals can make an important difference.

The materials needed fall into the following categories:

Instructions on Identifying COVID-19 Symptoms

Fear fueled by lack of knowledge can drive large numbers of individuals to emergency rooms, urgent care centers, clinics, and other healthcare environments. This influx of patients puts increasing strain onto many of the over-extended local healthcare systems.  It also puts a growing numbers of individuals into a waiting area context where they can more easily catch the disease.  These non-symptomatic individuals are more likely to be released to return home, and if they acquired COVID-19 during their visit, they can spread the illness to previously uninfected members of their family.

The solution is for communication professionals to provide local healthcare services with easy-to-disseminate informational materials on how to determine if one might have COVID-19.  Such materials need to be written to address the expectations and needs of local communities (vs., re-distributing materials by national agencies – materials designed for a more general audience).  They also need to address two audiences:

  • Individuals who wish to assess their own health by performing a diagnostic on themselves
  • Individuals who care for others –  children or the elderly – and are reviewing the health of another

Such instructions need to note

  • What to look for to determine if one might have COVID-19
  • What to do if one does seem to display symptoms of COVID-19
  • How to monitor one’s condition if a COVID-19 infection is suspected, but not all symptoms are present
  • How to continue to monitor one’s health (and how often) if one seems healthy at the moment
  • How to seek care (e.g., visit an emergency room) to reduce potentially infecting one’s household if a COVID-19 infection is suspected

The objective is helping individuals understand when to seek care for a COVID-19 concern and when they should, instead, engage in supportive self-care at home. Ideally, such materials can help ease the strain on local healthcare systems by reducing the number of individuals seeking care.

Strategies for Shopping Strategically

​Fear can cause a run on grocery stores and can prompt individuals to hoard resources to the point where it creates a strain on others.  Much of this hoarding behavior is driven by misperceptions of what is needed to effectively feed a household in times of crisis.

Often, this panicked purchasing can lead to the buying out of seemingly non-essential resources.  (How many have seen crisis situations where all of the bread and milk disappears from a store, but ample supplies of water, canned goods, and batteries remain?)  These situations can strain immediate local situations (e.g., fights breaking out in stores over resources), tensions in communities (e.g., individuals feeling neighbors are hoarding or not sharing), and even effect local health (e.g., depriving individuals of needed dietary resources or even essential medications).

The solution communication professionals can provide comes from informational materials associated with shopping and cooking.  These would include the following items:

  • Checklists of what to purchase so individuals have readymade shopping lists they can use to put information into action when implementing ideas about how to shop.  Such lists should include both food types (e.g., canned beans) and quantity based on servings per person (e.g., 2 cans per person per week).  An entry might look like “Canned beans: 2 cans per person per week.”
  • Recipe lists explaining how to use the items collected via the shopping list to create multiple meals during the week.  For example, one could note how to cook rice (don’t assume users will know how to prepare food you’ve suggested they purchase) as well as how to integrate that cooked rice into multiple meals throughout the week (e.g., rice and beans, stir fry, chili, etc.).  Such information should note how much of a given meal to prepare per person (e.g., “For 1 person, use these measurements when preparing this meal.   Increase these numbers proportionally per person in the household.”)  The better individuals understand how to use groceries in a way that meets weekly dietary requirements, the less likely individuals are to panic and over-purchase items for fear of not knowing what they will need.
  • Shopping schedules that provide a framework for how and when to use shopping lists.  Such schedules might be a calendar noting which day of the week to designate as “shopping day” with tentative entries noting when to prepare different meals described in the associated recipes provided.  Such a schedule can help individuals better conceptualize their food needs during a week and, ideally, reduce panic shopping or overbuying driven by fear that one will not have enough food to last during a certain timeframe.

Materials like these reduce strain on local resources, reduce social tensions, and limit social contact by reducing multiple trips to the store — and multiple social interactions – during a timeframe.

​Protocols for Assessing Sources of Information

​Inaccurate information can be one of the greatest threats to social stability in times of crisis.  It can prompt rushes on healthcare services, lead to strains on local infrastructure, and increase tensions among individuals.  The problem is we live in an age of interconnection and continual information where it is often difficult to tell accurate information form specious sources or sincere mistakes.  Given how easy it can be to forward part of a message (information out of context), share a misperception of information, or even create false content, the risks of prospective problems are high.

For communication professionals, addressing this issue involves a two-part process of

  • Providing individuals with rubrics for assessing the sources of COVID-19 information in terms of its accuracy.  These rubrics can apply to information in general (e.g., “Review the source of information.  Is it stated?  Is it one associated with understanding this area and providing information on the situation?”)  They should also, however, address common media – particularly social media – where updates can come quickly and continually (e.g., “To determine if a Facebook post is legitimate, research the background of the person posting or sharing it.  Who is this person, and what is their background in relation to the topic?”).  Such simple steps can help individuals review content more critically to hopefully reduce misinformation passing as credible content that can lead to panic.
  • Presenting strategies for how to report misinformation or false content.  It is one thing for the individual to avoid acting on inaccurate content.  It is another to get such content flagged or removed to prevent others from acting on it.  Protocols on assessing content should also include instructions on how to report problematic content to the organization sharing this information.  Such situations can be particularly important in relation to social media providers that allow almost anyone access to vast audiences on a seemingly limitless basis.  Taking steps to help remove misinformation from these channels and block purveyors of false content on them is essential to helping avoid greater public panic and preserving health and safety.

Accurate information is key to managing a crisis, and communication professionals can play an important role in making sure individuals understand how to discern accurate from problematic content in critical times.

​Procedures on How to Care for Others

​A growing number of individuals now cares for other parties – aging family members, ailing neighbors, and nearby grandchildren.  For these individuals, the challenge is one of determining whether they ought to stay home or venture out to provide needed care.  These individuals need resources that can both help them make key decisions and allow them to maintain regular contact with the person for whom they provide different kinds of care.

​Communication professionals can help meet these needs by developing certain materials including

  • Instructions on how to venture out safely to interact with, watch over, or provide care for other parties.  Such instructions would include how to maintain one’s safety when traveling to and from the other party’s location as well as how to maintain social distancing when in the presence of these individuals.  They would also include instructions on how to assess the health of the persons for whom they provide care to determine if those persons seem ill or may be infected, and if so, how to monitor and follow up on such concerns – including how to request medical assistance if infection seems likely.  Such instructions should note how one should clean their hands, clothes, and other materials upon returning to their own home in order to avoid spreading infection within the caregiver’s household.
  • Rubrics for determining how often to visit another person directly or if it is possible to do “check ins” by other means.  If, for example, one’s daily visit to an elderly parent is to see if that person is doing OK or if they have enough food or other items for daily wellbeing, such activities can be done via non-contact options, such as phone calls.  In other cases, the need to see the other party might be essential to assessing their wellness.  In such cases, free-access technologies like Skye, Google Hangouts, or Zoom may suffice.  Knowing if and when one should do caregiving visits in person is a matter of knowing what one needs to do during such visits and what other options might be available if on-site interactions are not essential.  Rubrics that can help caregivers better assess if such meetings are needed, and alternatives for doing regular check ins can help care providers maintain both the health of those they care for as well as that of their own household.

In some instances, interactions outside of the home are necessary.  By providing individuals with materials that can help them assess options and address situations, communication professionals can help individuals make better decisions that address health challenges during a crisis.

​Instructions on How to Interact Virtually

​The COVID-19 pandemic has seen what is perhaps the largest global move ever to online interaction.  From businesses to schools to religious meetings, almost every aspect of our society is now conducting daily activities online.  Such transitions can be difficult when undertaken by employers or institutions that provide the technologies for and the staff to facilitate such interactions.  These factors, however, do not help individuals who need to engage with others outside of pre-arranged online contexts.

These individuals need instructions on how to engage in three core activities associated with interacting with others online in order to ​

  • Determine what kind of interaction they wish to engage in and then select the technology best suited for these interaction.  To this end, easy-to-use rubrics that align kinds of communication (need) with associated technologies that facilitate it (solution) can be invaluable.  Communication professionals can assemble tables or rubrics that help individuals identify the technologies best suited for their purpose (e.g., “Daily quick/5-minute check in with family members.  Skype:  Allows visual and audio interaction as well as text chats and the ability to share screens to exchange information quickly across multiple senses.”)  Included in such resources should be pricing options – particularly what is free vs. what is for fee – and associated benefits and limitations of such options (e.g., “The free version of Zoom limits the amount of time individuals can be connected on a meeting; the paid version removes this time restriction.”).  This information can help individuals make better choices for their off-site interactions.
  • Download and install the selected technology as familiarity with requisite technologies varies widely. Instructions on how to perform these processes can be essential to successfully using them.  Consider, for example, the person who has never used their mobile phone to download a program like Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.  Would they be able to intuitively perform this process?  Alternatively, if a family member had to talk them through the download and installation process, could they do so from memory and via guesswork? In such situations, these instructions can be invaluable by saving time and effort and reducing the frustration of these processes – all factors that influence if individuals will actually use a technology later vs. be so disenchanted with it due to an unpleasant download and install experience they instead avoid it. By creating such instructions, communication professionals can facilitate the move to online interactions by helping others install the technologies needed to do so.
  • Use the technology to interact with others as one cannot assume use of these technologies is intuitive.  In such cases, the need is for instructions on how to use the related technology after it has been downloaded.  These instructions might need to include information on how to set up an account and log into it once created.  They likely also need to note how to use the technology to share information via different channels (e.g., how to do audio chats; video chats; text messaging, etc.).  Such instructions also need to be presented in a way – be it in writing, infographics, or instructional videos – that allows individuals themselves to use a technology or allows another party, like a family member, to talk them through such processes. By creating such materials, communication professionals can provide members of their communities with the information needed to interact effectively via online communication technologies.

Seemingly simple, informational materials like these can be the key to maintaining social distancing while preserving important interpersonal relationships in times of crisis.  The more easily individuals learn to use such technologies, the more likely they are to use them, and virtual interactions reduce the need for face-to-face engagement and allow for more manageable social distancing in times of crisis.

​Implementing Ideas

​As communication professionals create such materials, they need to consider the following factors:

  • Understanding the audiences who will use these materials, and creating versions that address audience expectations and needs.  For many of these items, there is no single, distinct “user group.”  Rather, age, education, literacy rates, and familiarity with technology all affect what individuals need from and how they will use these materials.  For this reason, communication professionals need to determine who the audiences in their communities are that will likely need or use such materials and create alternate versions for each audience.  Identifying these audiences might involve contacting local healthcare providers, community services, or local organizations to determine who these populations are.  The key is that the final items produced need to clearly indicate the local community audience for whom they are designed to insure the correct individuals use materials.
  • Developing materials for distribution via multiple modes.  While many individuals might assume, “Just put it on a website and everyone can access it.” that situation might not reflect local realities.  Certain individuals might shun online resources and instead prefer printed materials.  For this reason, communication professionals need to create materials that can appear on websites, be accessed by mobile devices, and be printed while appearing in similar formats across media types.  This parallelism is critical for situations in which individuals might be discussing a common item (e.g., instructions on how to install software) but be using different media as a point of reference (e.g., the printed vs the mobile version of instructions).  Parallel design makes such interactions easier by creating common points of reference for discussion (e.g., “Look at the second bullet item under “Heading 1: Installation.”).  A similar situation would be the case should one decide to use online videos to provide information. In such cases, the video should be divided into titled segments that parallel other versions to allow for common reference points for discussing information.
  • Coordinating with local organizations – including healthcare, public, non-profit, and other entities – to share information about these resources to make community members aware of them.  Information is only effective if it is used, and individuals can only use it if they are aware it exists and know how to find it.  By coordinating with local agencies, communication professionals can make sure members of the community are aware of these resources so they can use them.  Included in this coordination needs to be a plan for who will share news of these materials across different platforms and resources (e.g., I’ll post it to the hospital’s Facebook site, but you’ll post it to the hospital’s twitter account.) to avoid overwhelming individuals with information in ways that could undercut its credibility and deter others from using it.

By addressing such factors, communication professionals can make meaningful contributions to their local communities.  Such contributions can be essential to helping both local communities and greater society in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.  Challenges to public health and social wellbeing will continue to arise, and they will always need to be addressed on local levels.  Strategies such as these can help communication professionals make meaningful contributions to their communities when threats to public safety arise.


​The author wishes to thank Cathryn Molloy and Cynthia Ryan for their help in developing these ideas and crafting this text.  Their input was central to crafting many of the strategies noted here.

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: