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Three HHIVE members/alumni have been awarded Article of the Year by the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ARSTM) for 2019! Jennifer Edwell, Sarah Singer, and Jordynn Jack won this award for their article titled “Healing Arts: Rhetorical Techne as Medical (Humanities) Intervention.” This article is based on the Writing Diabetes Study (funded by a UNC FIRE grant) and argues that techne can unify researchers in the variegated fields of rhetoric of health and medicine, the medical humanities, and medicine itself.

Jennifer Edwell, PhD Candidate in English at UNC

When asked to comment on this exciting achievement and elaborate a bit on the study, Edwell, a PhD candidate in English, had the following to say:

“The Writing Diabetes Study is a unique project, because it links patients’ embodied experiences with the process of composition. In this study, we explored the narrative, rhetorical, and linguistic richness of illness writing in tandem with the bodily experience of living with diabetes. Over the course of the project, we began to recognize a convergence between rhetorical techne (i.e., narrative writing skills) and participants’ health practices. We observed how study participants combined expert medical knowledge with their experiential knowledge to determine how to best manage or live with diabetes, and we termed this unique type of knowledge and embodied practice ‘health techne.’ Beyond investigating the relationship between writing and health, this project enacted a truly interdisciplinary and multi-rank approach to collaborative scholarship. In the article, we argue that the term techne can be used as a shared framework for cross-disciplinary discussion and research, because making strategic choices in communication and in healthcare requires knowledge, embodied practices, and a dash of cunning (metis). It is wonderful to know that others see value in our project/article. We are honored to receive this recognition from ARSTM!”

Sarah A. Singer, Assistant Professor of English at University of Central Florida

As is hopefully obvious, this project embodies the cross-disciplinary ethos that makes HHIVE so special. Singer, who earned her PhD from UNC in 2019 and is now an Assistant Professor of English at University of Central Florida, had a similar comment when asked about the project, stating, “I’m excited that our article connects rhetorical theory to healthcare practice and hopeful that our work will resonate with rhetorical scholars and healthcare providers. While the Writing Diabetes study involved some complex logistics, I hope that other researchers will consider adapting it for their contexts, since our results suggest that writing might be an effective way to support people with diabetes.”

Of course, none of this, Singer stresses, would have possible without the people who were kind enough to participate in the study. In thinking about what was most memorable for her about the project, she says, “My favorite part of the Writing Diabetes study was getting to know the participants. Many of them had lived with diabetes for 10+ years, but they had never had an opportunity to think through their experiences with the condition. Each participant approached diabetes care differently, and I was intrigued by the surprising tips and tricks—the health techne—they developed to manage the condition.”

While all of this would be exciting enough, this is not the only award that these talented members have won. Jennifer Edwell recently received the Barbara Heifferon Graduate Student Fellowship from Rhetoric of Health & Medicine for a piece that she submitted from her dissertation and Sarah Singer won the Judy Segal Top Paper Award at the 2019 Rhetoric of Health and Medicine Symposium for an excerpt from her project, “The Empowerment Paradox: Rhetorics of Lyme Disease and the Future of Chronic Illness.” Both Edwell and Singer will be working with Rhetoric of Health & Medicine to revise their projects for publication.

Jordynn Jack, Professor of English at UNC & HHIVE Founding Director
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