Keywords and Questions

As the planning committee was discussing ways to keep the focus of the symposium on conversations, we recognized that we kept returning to a series of words. All of our featured speakers were asked to use these keywords to guide their remarks.

In addition, our keynote speakers generated a series of questions that we will use during one of our breakout sessions to further our conversations.  And finally, you can see the questions that all Participants’ were asked to answer.

Symposium Keywords

Methods will be discussed during the two workshops.

Keynote Questions

From featured speaker, Amy Koerber

  • How do medical rhetoric researchers need to expand their focus or change their methods to account for the increasingly important international dimension of health and medicine?
  • How can medical rhetoric researchers contribute to our understanding of health disparities, both nationwide and worldwide, and what can we do to help overcome health disparities?
  • What are the rhetorical dimensions of relationships between health and place?
  • What role can medical rhetoricians play in informing citizens about the health-related dangers of local agricultural and industrial practices and engaging in activism and research that works to change such practices?
  • What are the rhetorical forces and practices that have contributed to the sharp increase, since 2011, in state-level legislative acts that aim to restrict abortion access and rights? What can we learn about the U.S. abortion controversy by studying how this issue has been dealt with in other geographic regions, both past and present?

From featured speaker, Lisa Karenen

  • What strategies can rhetoricians of medicine [or ‘those of us who study in this area’] use to connect both with stakeholders of their work and the larger academic communities of which they are a part? How do we speak both within our disciplines and with broader communities?
  • What mechanisms can we use to build bridges between social scientific health communication, humanistic rhetoricians of medicine, and allied disciplines?
  • What are strategies for disseminating our work to wider audiences? Can we use this conference to build some infrastructure for sharing?
  • How can we make the case for humanistic studies of medicine and health to colleagues who speak the language of statistics and evidence-based medicine?

Symposium Questions

All participants were asked to answer and think through a series of questions.  Following are the questions, and you can find the participant answers and additional questions on the participant pages.  Keeping in mind that some participants are from Communication and some from English studies, and that each of us may see and/or define who we are in slightly different terms. These questions and responses will serve as the starting point to some of our discussions.

All participants, including our featured speakers, were asked to answer the following question:

  • How would you define medical rhetoric or health communication or whatever it is you see as your primary work?

In addition, participants were asked to pick three of the following to answer:

How do you explain/define what you do to medical personnel and/or other stakeholders in the research process or the public?

  • how do you explain/define what you do to medical personnel and/or other stakeholders in the research process or to the public?
  • how would you describe the relationship between medical rhetoric/health communication (however you see yourself) with other fields and sub-fields (e.g., rhetoric of science)?  For example, we struggled with what to name the symposium.  Some suggested medical rhetoric, but that doesn’t comfortably fit some from Communication nor from English Studies.  In other words, how do you align what may be a specific focus with broader disciplinary concerns and tensions?
  • what other keywords would you add to the list above (connections, dissemination, ethics, methods, and theory) and why? (no more than three additions)
  • what research challenges have you experienced and how did you solve them?  Choose to focus on one or two specific examples that can help the group develop strategies for overcoming these types of challenges.
  • what do you see as the primary distinctions between a “humanities” orientation to research and a “social sciences” orientation? what is at stake in these different orientations?
  • what are some of the most pressing questions in health and healthcare that health communication/medical rhetoric scholars can help answer?


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