Prescribing Gender in Medicine and Narrative
39th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 10-13, 2008
Buffalo, New York
Gender is a particularly important, if often overlooked, context for medicine. Not only does one become visible within medicine as a gendered subject (susceptibility for illness and particular injuries are strongly linked to gender, for example, and numerous diseases are gender-specific), but gender directly affects the way an individual, whether doctor or patient, will be perceived and treated. Consequently, though medical narratives exert considerable social power as they claim the ability to speak the truth about gender, medical narratives and interactions are themselves shaped by existing stereotypes about gender. This is particularly true with regard to the ways that patients and medical professionals conform to and perform gendered roles in their interactions with one another. This roundtable seeks to investigate gendered perceptions and representations of healers (including doctors, physicians, nurses, midwives, surgeons, non-Western healers, physical therapists, etc.,) and patients in all forms of narrative, including fiction, popular literature, poetry, memoir, film, television, and visual art. Some of the questions we hope to address include how gender stereotypes pervade/inform the representation and perception of healers and patients, including how such notions affect the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship that is portrayed in these various media. How are men and women shown as “different,” dissimilar and even contradictory in their healing capacities, capabilities, styles, and manners? How far have we come from the classic 1950s Little Golden Books Dr. Dan the Bandage Man and Nurse Nancy (both recently reissued as late as 2005), which are rife with stereotypes of gendered forms of healing? Are certain fields and/or professions represented as more “masculine” or “feminine” than others? Is the medical gaze a “male” gaze? What role does gender play in the perception of patients as “good” and “bad”? How does gender affect the ways that patients perceive of themselves, their illness or injury, and their interactions with medical personnel? What are the manifestations/implications of a “reversal” of these stereotypes? We welcome papers from a variety of disciplines, historical periods, and theoretical perspectives, as well as those focused on narratives from around the world.
Topics to consider include but are not limited to:
gendered healing “styles” and “bedside manners”
the intersection of gender with issues of race, class, disability, and religion in the medical context
“reverse” gender stereotypes (i.e., portrayal of the female doctor-male patient relationship; the male nurse or patient)
the gendering of particular medical professions (gynecology, midwifery, dermatology, among others)
the gendering of particular illnesses or injuries
portrayals of female doctors and nurses in popular literature/culture, esp. television (Grey’s Anatomy and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, both of which have female doctors as protagonists)
portrayal of healers and patients in children’s literature
gendering of the child patient
Please send a 1-2 page abstract and a brief CV to Angela Laflen at Angela.Laflen@marist.edu and Marcelline Block at mblock@Princeton.edu by September 15, 2007.
Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
A/V requirements (if any)
The complete Call for Papers for the 2008 Convention will be posted in June: www.nemla.org.
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA panel; however panelists can only present one paper. Convention participants may present at a paper session panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.
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