I’m an assistant professor located in the Emerging Media and Communication Program at the University of Texas at Dallas, where I work on the intersections of media, health, and digital culture. My forthcoming book, Communicative Biocapitalism: Mediating the Voice of the Patient in Digital Health (University of Michigan Press), examines how digital media, capitalist medicine, and networked platforms are effecting how people think about and narrate health and illness. I consider a host of media – among them literature, social-networking sites, and biodigital devices – to compose a full portrait of that effect, and my analysis of these media demonstrates how gender, race, and disability inform the value that capitalism locates in “the voice of the patient” today. In scrutinizing that voice, I show that the shift to digital health technologies will require the fields traditionally concerned with honoring “the voice of the patient” – narrative medicine and medical humanities in particular – to rethink some of their cornerstone principles, including how they approach and interpret texts, if they are to address how digital media newly constrain who speaks, and what they say.
I’m working on two other projects: the first, on the commodification and surveillance of women’s health and illness online; the second, on the history of mental health media.
In my courses, which tend to focus more heavily on the present media landscape, I’m interested in also helping students explore media’s past. To this end I’ve developed an online exhibit around the history of medical records, which students can use to explore the changing nature of doctor/patient interactions, to think about how best to represent data about the body — both for doctors’ purposes as well as for patient satisfaction — and to learn the history of medicine itself. Due to difficulties in finding archives that will agree to releasing patients’ health information, even records from half a century ago, this project is currently incomplete.
I’m also a member of Medical Futures Lab, a group of innovative scholars, artists, hackers, and physicians engaged in disrupting medical education. I blog for them; you can read a few posts here and here. I also use The Twitter, mostly to disseminate information to my students but sometimes to provocate, at @Olivia_Banner.