In this blog entry, Ellena Deeley, a SWW DTP funded PhD student studying English Literature and Film at the Universities of Exeter and Bristol, discusses her forthcoming workshop at the Brilliant Bodies Fun Palace Event.
Medicalising Disabled Bodies in the Media
(1st of October 2016 – 2 – 4pm)
In this deliberative workshop event titled “Medicalising Disabled Bodies in the Media”, we will think critically about mass media images of medical practise. The workshop will offer participants the opportunity to interrogate images of medicalised bodies taken from popular medical reality television series such as Channel 4’s BodyShock series. By looking at images from medical documentary series alongside photographic artwork by disabled artists, we will reflect on the ethics of producing, disseminating and consuming medicalised images of disabled bodies. The workshop will raise questions such as:
Is there a relationship between medical practises and social oppression?
How might medical images of disabled bodies in the media have a role in regulating and maintaining social norms?
During the event, participants will have the opportunity to have their photograph taken in an anatomical-themed “head in hole” photo board (Figure.1).
To produce the board, we obtained a high resolution composite image of human anatomy produced through modern biomedical imaging techniques such as MRI, CT and X-ray (sciencephoto.com). The image was subsequently printed onto a life-size board and a ‘peep through’ cut out was placed near the head or face area of the image. This optional workshop activity – which will involve staging volunteers as medical or anatomical exhibits – is designed to encourage critical reflection on the power dynamics of medicalising the body.
BodyShock. Optomen Television and ArkMedia. Channel 4. 2003-12.
Clark, David, Catherine Myser. “Being Humaned: Medical Documentaries and the Hyperrealization of Conjoined Twins” Freakery. Ed.Thomson, Rosmarie Garland. New York: New York UP, 1996. 338-355. Print.
Dijck, José van. The Transparent Body: A Cultural Analysis of Medical Imaging. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005. Print.
Dreger, Alice Domurat. One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal. Harvard University Press, 2005. Print.
Kulyk, Mehau. “Body Imaging.” Science Photo Library. Sciencephoto.com. Web. 27 Sep 2016.
McNeil, Maureen. Feminist cultural studies of science and technology. London: Routledge, 2007.
Pingree, Allison. ““The Exceptions that prove the Rule”: Daisy and Violet Hilton, the “New Woman” and the Bond of Marriage.” Freakery. Ed. Thomson, Rosmarie Garland. New York: New York UP, 1996. 173-184. Print.
Shildrick, Margrit. Embodying the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self. London: SAGE, 2002. Print.
 My ideas for the event draw on media studies scholar Jose van Dijck’s discussion of media representations of medical imaging (10). As van Dijck has argued “the “mediation” of medicine is part of a general trend to allow cameras into our intimate lives” (10).