Writing Childbirth: Women's Rhetorical Agency in Labor and Online

Writing Childbirth: Women's Rhetorical Agency in Labor and Online

by Kim Hensley Owens

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Women seeking to express concerns about childbirth or to challenge institutionalized medicine by writing online birth plans or birth stories exercise rhetorical agency in undeniably feminist ways. In Writing Childbirth: Women’s Rhetorical Agency in Labor and Online, author Kim Hensley Owens explores how women create and use everyday rhetorics in planning for, experiencing, and writing about childbirth.

Drawing on medical texts, popular advice books, and online birth plans and birth stories, as well as the results of a childbirth writing survey, Owens considers how women’s agency in childbirth is sanctioned, and how it is not. She examines how women’s rhetorical choices in writing interact with institutionalized medicine and societal norms. Writing Childbirth reveals the contradictory messages women receive about childbirth, their conflicting expectations about it, and how writing and technology contribute to and reconcile these messages and expectations.

Demonstrating the value of extending rhetorical investigations of health and medicine beyond patient-physician interactions and the discourse of physicians, Writing Childbirth offers fresh insight into feminist rhetorical agency and technology and expands our understanding of the rhetorics of health and medicine. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809334063
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 06/24/2015
Series: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 204
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Kim Hensley Owens is the director of composition and an associate professor of English at Northern Arizona University. Her research focuses on intersections of rhetoric, feminism, health and medicine, bodies, technologies, and ethnography. She has published essays in Rhetoric Review, Written Communication, Computers and Composition, JAC, Pedagogy, and Enculturation.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Writing Birth—Asserting Rhetorical Agency

Chapter One: Understanding Birth: Commonplaces of Modern American Childbirth Advice
Chapter Two: Inventing Birth: Rhetorics of Control and Resistance
Chapter Three: Confronting Birth: Rhetorical Disability and Five Women’s Birth Plans
Chapter Four: Hosting Birth: Birth and Birth Stories over Time and Online
Chapter Five: Sharing Birth: Catharsis, Commentary, and Testimonial in Online Birth Stories

Epilogue: Experiencing Birth
A. Survey Recruitment Email
B. Childbirth Writing Survey
Works Cited

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