Call for Papers: Diagnosing the Tube: Reality TV, Medicine, and Science

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Jullie Anne Taddeo and Dr. Ken Dvorak
contact email: 
taddeo@mail.umd.edu; krdvorak@gmail.com

The editors of The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV and History are collecting submissions for their follow-up anthology, tentatively titled Diagnosing the Tube: Reality TV, Medicine, and Science.
The science and practice of medicine has always been contested by the non-expert. For example, as medicine became professionalized in the 19th century, doctors tried to push out midwives, "quacks," and the lay person in general; impressing the public with medical degrees, Latin terminology, and the practice of anatomy, physicians established professional credibility for themselves. But lay persons continued to battle doctors and scientists for control over the body—with folk remedies, phrenology, mesmerism, and freak shows.

Current reality TV programming continues this age-old battle over medical knowledge and practice. The Learning Channel (TLC), for example, devotes much of its air time to such topics as the “World's Tallest Teen,” “Mermaid Girl,” “Tree Trunk Man,” to name just a few; under the guise of "educational" TV, these programs re-format the freak show, both titillating viewers and empowering them with medical knowledge. Other shows on various channels deal with issues once considered taboo or too shameful for public sharing: addictions (drug, sexual, food, even seemingly benign addictions like “Extreme Couponing”) and compulsive disorders like hoarding which expose a family’s secrets and champion the joint efforts of psychologists, professional cleaners, and organizers.

What drives such programming and its viewing, as well as the participation of individuals willing to risk ridicule and censor but who also elicit viewer sympathy and empathy? How has the medical establishment responded to reality TV? Johns Hopkins’s ER, for example, had its own reality TV show, giving the seal of approval to this genre while also trying to humanize the profession. Above all, patients want to tell their stories, as indicated by a forthcoming reality program that chronicles the daily lives of cancer patients. Attention to issues of class, religion, gender, race, etc., and their intersection with medicine is encouraged.

We are seeking scholars from a variety of disciplines (TV/media studies/social history/history of medicine, disability studies, etc), and we encourage an examination of programs from around the world. We Abstracts chosen for inclusion in the anthology will be considered “conditional acceptances” – the editors will secure the submission in the volume, but the editors reserve the right to reject any full essay that does not meet the standards (of style/content, etc) agreed to between the editors and authors. Endnotes are mandatory; illustrations are encouraged and must be secured (along with permissions) by the author and submitted with the final draft.

Please submit a 1000 word abstract and brief CV in electronic format by December 15, 2011 to
Editors:

Dr. Julie Anne Taddeo, University of Maryland
email: taddeo@mail.umd.edu
Dr. Ken Dvorak, Northern New Mexico College

email: krdvorak@gmail.com

Abstracts chosen for inclusion in the anthology will be considered “conditional acceptances” – the editors will secure the submission in the volume, but the editors reserve the right to reject any full essay that does not meet the standards (of style/content, etc) agreed to between the editors and authors. Endnotes are mandatory; illustrations are encouraged and must be secured (along with permissions )by the author and submitted with the final draft.

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
film_and_television
gender_studies_and_sexuality
general_announcements
interdisciplinary
popular_culture
science_and_culture