The Ostomy Multiple Toward a Theory of Rhetorical Enactments

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Molly Margaret Kessler


Recent research in rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) has called on scholars to find ways to more adequately attend to patients’ lived and embodied experiences. At the same time, scholarship within and allied to RHM has long worked to address the problems of perspectivalism and relatedly, Cartesian binaries such as mind/body or self/nonself. This article aims to build theory that simultaneously addresses these concerns by examining patients’ experiences with ostomies. This article develops rhetorical enactments as a theoretical frame that enables RHM scholars to explore lived experiences and account for diverse entities that participate in those experiences. The analysis presented focuses on how entities like “self” and “ostomy” are rhetorically enacted within lived experiences and become meaningfully different. Ultimately, this article advocates rhetorical enactments as a productive way to both understand and intervene in patients’ lived experiences.

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