Identities […] Rhetoric of Health and Medicine

Download 2020 CFP

With the uncertainty around COVID19, we have made the decision to move the 2020 RHM Symposium to a virtual format. With flexibility from the online space, we are extending the call for proposals until May 15, 2020. 

The Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM) Symposium is a mix of highly competitive, open-call papers and invited participants, which results in a diverse gathering of scholars (from graduate students to full professors) from a variety of disciplines and fields. The RHM symposium seeks to bring together humanities and social scientific research traditions in a rhetorically focused way to allow scholars to build new interdisciplinary theories, methodologies, and insights that can impact our understanding of health, illness, healing, and wellness.

We like to propose a theme to give us a unifying concept to work with during our time together. This year’s theme, “identities” is meant to offer potential participants a generative organizing principle to guide the symposium’s conversations, as well as potentially help you to articulate your work in progress. The […] in the title signals a space for each of us to engage with the many configurations of identities through the power of the preposition — identities at, through, with, between, about, in, and of.

This theme is meant to signal that we’d like the symposium to be space where RHM scholars—both established and emerging—are invited to continue vital conversations on the “identity” of RHM as an interdisciplinary field of study that sits between the humanistic and social sciences, as well as to consider its relations and relationships to related fields of study such as, for example, medical humanities; medical anthropology; and rhetoric of science, technology and medicine. 

That said, we’re also interested in advancing conversations during the symposium and with your works-in-progress that consider the context of identities conceived broadly (i.e. patient identities, care provider identities, scholarly identities, institutional identities, personal identities, community identities, etc.) Rather than essentializing issues of identity, we want to think through and to engage with how RHM work might challenge notions of stable identities and how it might work to especially highlight shifting and intersectional identities.

Potential categories

materiality embodiment
methodologies methods, practices intercultural/global/translingual
health citizenship/publics technologies
critical race theory historiography/rhetorical history
social justice and advocacy ethics
critical theory genre 

Submission Criteria

Unlike other conferences, the RHM Symposium is all about conversations. Therefore, what you are proposing is your work-in-progress that will be work-shopped in small groups. Past attendees have found this feature to be not only helpful to their own work but also, invigorating to intellectual inquiry.

The rest of the time together will have us engaging in conversations around different questions, topics, and concerns. 

Your full proposal should include:

  • Contact information : name, affiliation, email
  • Designate faculty or graduate student **(see note below!)
  • Type of work: tell us if this is part of a potential article, chapter in an edited book, dissertation chapter or prospectus, work for another conference, book proposal, etc.
  • Choose one broad category (from those above) or list your own category
  • Title of your project/proposal
  • Proposal of up to 1000 words. (It can be less, and this word count is not including citations.)

Send proposals to:   using the subject line “RHM Symposium”

^^(see note below!)

If you have questions, please contact Lisa Melonçon, symposium chair, at

Important Dates

May 15, 2020: Proposals Due

TBD: Decisions

TBD: Works-in-progress ~5000+ words.

These will be circulated among participants that are assigned to small, related groups. The papers will be the basis of how we structure our conversations and allow you the opportunity to have your work-in-progress read closely by other scholars in the field. Top papers will be selected, and authors can choose to work with the editors for submission to the journal, Rhetoric of Health and Medicine.

More details can be found online at http:// 

** Graduate students will automatically be considered for the Barbara Heifferon Graduate Student Fellowship, awarded to the top graduate student submission. The fellowship pays for travel and lodging.

^^If you are in between projects and do not have something specific to propose for a works-in-progress and still want to attend, please send an email and tell us that.