Singer and Jack

Chapter 6 Theorizing Chronicity: Rhetoric, Representation, and Identification, on Pinterest

Sarah Ann Singer and Jordynn Jack


What is the most important takeaway from your chapter? 

Theorizing chronicity as a rhetorical concept builds on research in medical anthropology and considers how identification is a complex, multi-layered process that can be beneficial for chronically ill individuals. 

If you were making discussion questions for students (advanced undergraduates or early graduate students) to go along with your chapter, what would they be? 

  • What are the benefits of theorizing chronicity as a rhetorical tool or concept rather than an anthropological one? 
  • How else might you employ chronicity as a theory for work in RHM? 
  • How is chronicity enacted differently across other social media platforms (such as Instagram and Twitter)? 
  • Since the publication of this collection, what other representations of chronic illness have emerged? 

What questions do you feel your chapter leaves un-examined or where would you go with it next?

Future scholars might conduct interview- or survey-based studies to learn about how individuals come to identify with various chronic illnesses. These studies might consider how rhetorical identifications have shifted over time. For example, when Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was reclassified as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in 2015, did new representations of the condition emerge? And if so, did these representations change how existing or newly diagnosed patients identified with the condition? Additionally, future work might extend this chapter to consider disidentification, drawing on work in queer theory and performance studies by scholars such as José Muñoz. 

Is there anything that you want those new to the field to know about RHM?

Scholars who are new to RHM would benefit from knowing that the field is vast: extending from personal narratives to popular representations to professional discourse. While newcomers might assume that RHM focuses on doctor-patient communication (and it does!), RHM also offers opportunities to engage with a range of rhetors and discourses, from public representations to scientific publications to personal narratives. RHM scholars, in particular, aim to legitimize chronically ill and disabled individuals as rhetors and the vernacular rhetorics they produce.