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Health Communication Series

The Health Communication series offers a forum for the vibrant and growing community of researchers exploring issues related to health communication through rhetorical, critical, and/or qualitative lenses of analysis. Catalyzed by the publication of Judy Segal’s Health and the Rhetoric of Medicine (2008), scholarship in this vein has evolved into an overarching program of inquiry responding to—and offering insight into—major individual and public health concerns such as cancer, genetics, HIV/AIDS, reproduction, mental illness, sex education, and more. Across the board, this scholarship raises significant questions about the terms, phrases, and vocabularies used to construct "health" in diverse contexts, and it considers the implications of those constructions for individuals and the societies in which they live. Although scholars so employed have been considering overlapping queries and building from each other’s work in a manner that contributes compelling theoretical, methodological, and analytical insight, they lack a dedicated outlet for the kinds of sustained, in-depth projects that are necessary for inspiring future research and creating a broader circle of influence and expertise.

Health Communication addresses this lacuna by featuring rhetorical, critical, and/or qualitative studies projects exploring the discourses that constitute major health issues of the day and of days past. These projects engage and re-envision subject matters of health and medicine in terms of access, literacy, public understanding of science, information gathering, social support, stigma, uncertainty, and a range of traditional and newly evolving health-communication-oriented constructs. This process involves consideration of technical, public, and/or lay accounts of health and medicine, especially in terms of their intersections and co-constructions. Ultimately, the books in this series leverage their critical findings to support an overarching telos dedicated to informed problem-solving, health advocacy, and social justice. This pairing of the critical with attention to historical and contemporary social issues offers a clear path for rhetorical scholars of health and medicine—as well as critical qualitative health communication researchers—to join with, and contribute to, the field of health communication writ large.

Projects represented by this series are distinguished, first and foremost, because they are grounded in the identification and interpretation of overlooked, under-explored, or as-yet-unprocured primary sources related to health and medicine, sources that have been garnered via a robust orientation toward methodology including (but not limited to) archives, oral histories, interviews, and participant-observations. By foregrounding multifaceted and underrepresented perspectives through the lens of primary sources, scholarship in this series provides an increasingly comprehensive illustration of how health-and-medicine-oriented problematics are communicated to, with, and through diverse individuals and populations.

Questions about the emergence and circulation of health-related arguments, narratives, images, and silences or gaps are central to this forum, as are questions about the formation of fissures and moments of resistance wherein health discourses transform or are otherwise set on a new path. Analyses along these lines, when contextualized within broader discursive contexts, provide rich opportunities for the critical assessment of past and present health communication in the service of a reimagined state of health and medicine in the future.