Call for Proposals

2023 Rhetoric of Health and Medicine Symposium

Theme: Sustaining a Dwelling Place for RHM

October 13 – 14, 2023

September 15th & 16th, 2023

Minneapolis, MN


Read the CFP below or view a downloadable copy. 

NOTE: We have rescheduled the RHM Symposium to October 13-14, 2023, one month after the Symposium was initially going to be held. We have taken this step because Rosh Hashanah falls on September 15-16 this year. We thank the RHM community member who brought this conflict to our attention and we apologize for our error. 

In light of this schedule change, we have also pushed back the proposal deadline to Friday, May 12. If you have already submitted a proposal, we will be in touch to confirm if you want to retain your present submission, re-submit before the new deadline, or withdraw it from consideration.


The Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM) Symposium is a mix of open-call papers and invited participants, which results in a diverse gathering of folks from graduate students to senior faculty 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, medicine, illness, healing, and wellness.


The first issue of the journal Rhetoric of Health & Medicine began with an introduction by founding editors Lisa Melonçon and J. Blake Scott (2018) called “Manifesting a Scholarly Dwelling Place in RHM.” In it, Melonçon and Scott narrate how scholars working in rhetoric of health and medicine coalesced into a community to create a fruitful dwelling place–a place to stop a moment, develop their character, and engage others in discourse–for both rhetoricians of health and medicine and outside stakeholders. On the fifth anniversary of the RHM journal’s founding, as we prepare for the first in-person symposium since 2017, we have an opportunity to take stock of RHM as a dwelling place and intentionally envision its future. 

The expansiveness of the terms “rhetoric,” “health,” and “medicine” calls us to affirm RHM’s emergence as a field of inquiry and scholarly community, and to ensure it continues to be welcoming for both members of this community and those with varied disciplinary identities whose work with health or medicine resonates with rhetoric in any of its many forms. We are also called to act on our commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion as we maintain and nourish our dwelling places, recognizing that true sustainability necessitates both affirming a group identity and recognizing who those boundaries can exclude. Finally, we are called to envision how RHM scholars and our community partners and allies can work together to redress pressing issues in health and medicine through purposeful listening, public scholarship, and interdisciplinary engagement. Accordingly, we can embrace rhetorical dwelling as a “skill for attuning to spatial and temporal contingencies of constantly changing phenomena,” (Teston, p. 57) including economic, political, and environmental factors as well as precarious and radically diverse bodyminds (Clare, 2017; Price, 2014; Schalk, 2018).

We hope you’ll help us make this symposium a place where we can collaborate, deliberate, and learn together.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

We understand access as an “ongoing, iterative process” (Meloncon, 2018) that involves careful planning and nimble adaptation to the unexpected (Haas & Eble, 2018). With your help, we are committed to making the symposium an inclusive and accessible space from proposal submission to day-of events. As this will be our first in-person symposium since 2017, we are currently developing an accessibility action plan that will allow us to respond to the needs of all attendees, and we are incorporating several new kinds of sessions (see below). 

We also invite feedback and recommendations at any time at

To learn more about how we have prioritized access and inclusion in the past, read the Accessibility Action Plan for our 2021 virtual symposium

Proposal Details

A hallmark of the RHM Symposium has been its orientation toward dialogue among attendees. We are excited to maintain this tradition through a mix of session styles this year, and we anticipate this year’s symposium to include a combination of short presentations, workshops, and the works-in-progress sessions.

To submit a proposal, please complete the RHM Symposium 2023 Submission Form. The form will ask for the following information:

  • Contact information: name, affiliation, email, position
  • Title of your project/proposal
  • Keywords that describe your professional identity, research area, and/or proposal 
  • Proposal of up to 500 words, not including citations. 
    • Note: Proposals for panels can be up to 1,000 words and should include an overview of the panel and brief descriptions of presentations within the panel.
  • Proposal Type Indication: see more details below. 

As part of the proposal submission process, you will be invited to designate what kind of session you’d like your project to be considered for, including: 

  • Works-in-progress for working groups 
  • Lightning talk (5-7 minutes) 
  • Panel (75 minutes) 
  • Workshop (90 minutes) 

NOTE: We invite you to submit one or multiple proposals for different session types. You will need to submit separate forms for each session type you’d like to be considered for. The same project can be submitted for multiple session types or you can submit multiple projects, but we ask that you only submit once for any given session type (i.e. please don’t submit multiple work-in-progress proposals or multiple workshop proposals). Each submission will be reviewed independently. 

Session Type Descriptions

  • Work-in-progress: Participants accepted for the work-in-progress session will be placed into small working groups with three to five other participants. Members of these groups will exchange drafts and provide feedback on each other’s works-in-progress (drafts of articles, dissertation chapters, grant proposals, book chapters, etc.). Proposals for works-in-progress should describe the project and indicate the genre of the work-in-progress (e.g., article draft, grant proposal, dissertation chapter).
  • Lightning talk: Participants accepted for lightning talks will be organized into panels with short (5-7 minute) presentations followed by a facilitated discussion. Proposals for lightning talks should describe the project being presented and articulate what kinds of questions or discussion prompts the talk would offer. 
  • Panel: Accepted panels will feature 3-5 presentations of 10-15 minutes on the speakers’ current research. Panel proposals should provide a panel overview and brief descriptions of each presentation. 
  • Workshop: Accepted workshops will guide symposium attendees through hands-on activities or guided discussions with specific themes and goals. Proposals for workshop facilitation should articulate the purpose of the workshop, how the workshop will be interactive for attendees, and what practical takeaways attendees will leave with.

NOTE: Only works-in-progress submissions will be considered for our Top Paper award and the Barbara Heifferon Graduate Student Fellowship for top graduate student submissions. All works-in-progress submissions are automatically considered. 

Important Dates

  • EXTENDED: May 12, 2023: Proposals due
  • June 2023: Decisions released
  • October 1, 2023: Drafts of works-in-progress due
  • October 13 & 14, 2023: RHM Symposium

Submit your proposal by completing the 2023 RHM Symposium Submission Form. You can complete the form multiple times if you are submitting to participate in multiple ways (e.g., for works-in-progress and lightning talk). 

Have a question? Contact us! 

Please contact if you have any questions or if you have feedback, accessibility requests, or recommendations. 


Clare, E. (2017). Brilliant imperfection: Grappling with cure. Duke University Press. 

Haas, A. M., & Eble, M. F. (Eds.). (2018). Key theoretical frameworks: Teaching technical communication in the twenty-first century. University Press of Colorado.

Meloncon, L. (2018). Orienting access in our business and professional communication classrooms. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 81(1), 34-51.

Meloncon, L., & Scott, J. B. (2018). Manifesting a scholarly dwelling place in RHM. Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, 1(1), i-x.

Piepzna-Samarasinha, L. L. (2018). Care work: Dreaming disability justice. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Price, M. (2015). The Bodymind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain. Hypatia, 30(1), 268-284. doi:10.1111/hypa.12127

Schalk, S. (2018). Bodyminds reimagined: (Dis)ability, race, and gender in Black women’s speculative fiction. Duke University Press.

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