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 folks 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, medicine, 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, “(Re-)Invention,” is an invitation for RHM to deeply reflect and deliberately act toward redressing social injustices. As a central rhetorical principle and practice, invention most commonly refers to the first steps in the creation process of a text, speech, identity, etc. However, invention has also been theorized as the act of taking inventory, reflecting on what is stored and what is available. Holding these two definitions at once, the theme of (re-)invention calls us to take stock of RHM historically, presently, and moving forward.
The past year, in particular, has demanded that we continue to recognize interlocking systems of oppression and our participation in those systems, identify and carry out specific actions to dismantle those systems, create an inclusive community, and amplify the marginalized voices leading the fight against various forms of injustice (following the lead and calls of Mckoy (2019), the MedRhet SIG, and RHM Editors). Responding to such calls for reflection and action in meaningful, not simply performative, ways requires us to assess who and what — voices, experiences, perspectives, spaces, theories, methodologies, and values — are central to RHM presently and moving forward. Therefore, we will use the frame of “(Re-)Invention” to ground and guide our conversations at the 2021 Symposium as we invent and reinvent who we are and what we do in RHM as we work toward creating a field that is more inclusive, equitable, and just.
With this theme in mind, we invite works-in-progress at various stages, on a diverse range of RHM topics, and of various natures (methodological, pedagogical, public-facing and community-engaged, historical, theoretical, and interventional).