Screening Women's Health - SCMS - March 30-April 3, 2016 - Atlanta

full name / name of organization: 
Megan Minarich / Tennessee State University

Screening Women's Health

Given recent political pushes to defund Planned Parenthood and revoke the Affordable Care Act, the issue of granting and preserving women's access to health care and treatment remains as salient as ever. This panel explores representations of women's health care and issues of access in film and television.

When approaching this topic, Linda Williams' excellent work in Screening Sex comes to mind, particularly her engagement with the double entendre of the verb "to screen." In her Introduction, she explains, "I will insist on the double meaning of the verb to screen as both revelation and concealment" (2). Williams is writing primarily in the context of on-screen sex acts, but her emphasis on the (often simultaneously) dual nature of an image is apt here. It is with homage to Williams' work and in an effort to expand upon the multiple meanings of "to screen" that this panel is titled: screening as exposing, screening as hiding, and also screening in the more technical medical sense of testing for a disease or predisposition thereto.

While considering reproductive health is certainly one approach to this topic, the text(s) in question may address *any* aspect of women's health issues, health care, health problems, and/or access/lack of access to care, whether physical or emotional. Films/programs may range from educational to fictional, and they may be generically diverse (melodrama, comedy, film noir, et cetera). They may also vary in terms of national origin and time period. Here are some potential topics/questions to consider:

-To what extent are women's health concerns politicized? In what way(s)? To what end(s)?
-To what extent do women have authority over their own health decisions? Relatedly, do you see a connection between women's authority as patients and the gendering of the medical profession?
-How do generic concerns affect how the topics are presented?
-What is the relationship between on-screen women's health and censorship? Feminism? The birth control movement? Various social or religious groups? Women's agency? Eugenics? War? The economy?
-What similarities/differences do you notice between earlier representations of women's health issues and more contemporary treatments in film/television? What accounts for these similarities/differences?
-How does national sociohistorical context affect the treatment of these topics? How does this vary between different national traditions?
-What formal innovations do you find to be associated with representations of women's health issues?
-What connections, if any, do you see film/television making between physical and mental/emotional health concerns? What do you see as the consequences of these connections or lack thereof?
-How do these texts participate in larger conversations regarding science and technology in film and television?

If you are interested in this panel, please send a cv and an abstract of 250 words to Megan Minarich at by 21 August 2015. (Apologies for current lack of academic email; beginning new position and currently awaiting TSU email address.) All proposals will be responded to by 24 August.

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