Women’s health concerns are at the center of national debate. To influence matters of research, funding, policy, and access to health care, women participate in this debate through a range of rhetorical means. Grass-roots protests, the creation of digital communities around a shared illness, open letters, and media-connected blogs are some examples of “how the discourses of health and bodily well-being [circulate] among different social movement sectors and [create] grounds for coalition and conflict” (Loyd, Health Rights are Civil Rights, 2014).
Broadly speaking, health activism is motivated by a host of personal, practical, and political exigencies. Recent studies in the rhetoric of health and medicine concerning women’s health account for some of the discursive approaches women take to gain access to or influence the power structures that surround health, wellness, illness, safety, medical testing, diagnosis, prognosis, hospitalization, and treatments, including, for example, Kim Hensley Owen’s Writing Childbirth and Tasha N. Dubriwny’s The Vulnerable Empowered Woman.
Meanwhile, elaborate legal, corporate, and activist organizations exist that support, provide, govern, require, and even limit women’s knowledge, power, and participation generally in their own health and health care. A constant stream of commentary from politicians, government officials, and mass media pundits analyze and scrutinize women and their health choices. These comments often over-simplify the facts and circumstances of a health choice, focusing their attention on the women as agents, rather than critiquing the unfair and/or limiting structures in place regarding women’s education, access, and options.
By providing documentation and explication of this range of rhetorical activities, this collection seeks to share the arguments and strategies at work in the realm of women’s health, health crises, and healthcare. Therefore, we call for chapter proposals that introduce and/or illustrate sites, people, and practices that comprise the rhetoric of women’s health activism. Chapters may be based on empirical, archival, qualitative, and other research methods. We especially value the writing and accounts of research participants themselves, and welcome proposals from academics, healthcare advocates, practitioners, and other members of the women’s health community.
Our audience is generally academic, though we expect that students, community members, family members, and activists will find benefit in the evidence presented in each chapter. We see our audience as interdisciplinary, spanning fields from medical and allied health sciences, communications, rhetoric and composition, and various areas of humanities.
Submissions should contribute original research and perspectives to one of the following three sections of the collection:
1. Rhetoric of the Self: With a focus on individual rhetorical action, this section will include chapters that report on women’s self-sponsored writing. This could include expressivist writing, writing-to-heal, or self-sponsored educative practices. Generally, this section is devoted to the creativity of women responding to the circumstances of their health.
2. Rhetoric of the Patient: This section will include chapters that explain the rhetorical systems in which patients participate in terms of their health. This may include the legal, corporate, or activist organizations that support or limit patients. Additionally, this may include representations of women/patients within particular fields/health care arenas.
3. Rhetoric of the Advocate: With a focus on public writing and rhetoric, this section will include chapters about the rhetorical movements and arguments made by and on behalf of women in terms of health and health care. This may include advocacy movements, fundraising efforts, legislative lobbying, or other interventions into decision-making about women’s health and health care locally and/or nationally.
Please provide a summary/explanation of your proposed chapter while attending to the below questions. Chapter proposals should be no longer than 1,000 words. Simply send your Word doc or PDF to Jamie White-Farnham at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Women’s Health Rhetorics Chapter Proposal.”
a. Name, title, and institution of author. Proposed title of chapter.
b. What people and/or rhetorical activity is the focus of this chapter?
c. What are the (anticipated) results of the research/analysis?
d. What argument will be advanced regarding women’s health activism? Please describe the theoretical frame in use.
e. In which of the three sections does this chapter fit?
f. What is the current state of the research? (i.e., is it complete?)
g. What is the current state of the manuscript? (i.e., Fully drafted? Not yet begun?) Please note that dissertation chapters are welcome with revision to suit a wider audience.
Selection will be based on the fit for the book’s sections, on the timeliness of the research/argument, and on the editors’ interest in maintaining a diversity of research participants, artifacts, theoretical frames, and types of arguments.
Please note that the editors recognize that gender is constructed and fluid. As such, the use of the word “woman” is meant to include authors, research participants, and references to transgender, non-binary identifying, and cisgender women.
Chapter proposals due: October 1, 2017
Invitations for inclusion extended: January 1, 2018
Full chapters due to the editors: June 1, 2018
Please feel free to contact any of the three editors with your questions.