I’m an assistant professor in the Emerging Media and Communication Program 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 (under contract, University of Michigan Press), examines how digital media — where affects, algorithms, and networks intersect — transform the ways people think about and narrate health and illness. Case studies include patient-networking sites, Quantified Self, and biodigital devices, and my analyses demonstrate 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 projects: a history of mental health media and the management of race, gender, and sexuality titled Mental Media: Screening the Neoliberal Mind, 1945–2015; and an analysis of the commodification of women’s health, called The Biopolitical Economy of Our Data, Ourselves.
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 some of the leading educators as well as 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’ve blogged for them; you can read a few posts here and here. I also use Twitter, mostly to disseminate information to my students, at @Olivia_Banner.