Really had a spectacular time at the Discourses of Health and Medicine Symposium this week. I was impressed by the organization of the event and the friendly atmosphere; it was a great chance to meet lots of smart folks.
The symposium left me pondering some big-picture things. (Which surprised me–I had sort of expected to leave there thinking about smaller issues, like new collaborations and such). This is perhaps because the last session was a discussion of if we (attendees and others who do related work) are an organization, and if so, what we might call ourselves. Unsurprisingly, such a major rhetorical task was impossible to accomplish in a short time frame. However, I did feel that I got a chance to hear a lot about how others situate themselves in relation to some of this sub-field’s key terms. Lots of people seem to identify with the terms “health” and “communication”–but definitely not everyone. There was a definite opinion in the room that the terms “rhetorical” and “critical” affect our work, but that they were not the best choices for explaining ourselves to layperson audiences. A lot of folks seemed to like the suggestion of a working group, and most people seemed to agree that the title should include a focus on “research” or “study of” in order to emphasize that we are mostly working on, rather than creating, medical/health/wellness communication/rhetoric/discourses.
I really look forward to seeing (and, I hope, participating in) some of the discussions and decisions that come out of that discussion and others at the symposium!