I’m an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas, where I work and teach on the intersections of media, health/illness, and digital culture. My book, Communicative Biocapitalism: The Voice of the Patient in Digital Health and the Health Humanities (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2017), examines how digital media — where affects, algorithms, and networks intersect — transform the ways people think about and narrate health and illness. The book situates patient-networking sites, Quantified Self, and biodigital devices within broader dynamics of biomedicalization and structural inequalities, and it demonstrates how gender, race, and disability inform the value that capitalism locates in “the voice of the patient” today. In performing those analyses, I make the case that those humanities fields concerned with honoring “the voice of the patient” (narrative medicine and medical humanities in particular) will need to rethink some of their cornerstone principles, including how they approach and interpret texts, if they are to address how digital media newly contour who speaks about health and illness, and what they say.
I’m working on two other monographs: a history of mental health media’s role in the management of race, gender, and sexuality and in the construction of treatable populations titled Screening Madness, 1945–2015; and a book that interrogates the dark side of accessibility, called Crip Media.
I’m also co-editing, with Nathan Carlin and Thomas Cole of the McGovern Center for the Humanities and Ethics at Texas Medical Center, a book on pedagogy, Teaching Health Humanities (under contract, Oxford University Press). With contributions from leading figures and emerging voices in the humanities and health fields, the book maps where such courses are taught, reveals the politics of pedagogy, and models seemingly unorthodox but much-needed ways of using new media in teaching such courses.
I’ve been a member of Medical Futures Lab, a group of innovative scholars, artists, hackers, and physicians in Houston who are thinking about how to change medical education during this time of media transformation. I’m a co-organizer of the Feminist Research Collective at the University of Texas at Dallas, which also runs a Feminist Makerspace. I’m on Twitter, mostly to disseminate information to my students, at @Olivia_Banner.