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Bodies in FluxScientific Methods for Negotiating Medical Uncertainty$
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Christa Teston

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226450520

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226450834.001.0001

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Evidential Matter(s)

Evidential Matter(s)

(p.1) 1. Evidential Matter(s)
Bodies in Flux

Christa Teston

University of Chicago Press

How are evidential worlds assembled from bodies in perpetual flux? What backstage methods, protocols, and procedures elevate everyday biological activities to positions of argumentative authority? This chapter sets the stage for exploring such questions and provides the historical, theoretical, and practical exigencies for investigating four scientific methods that help to mitigate medical uncertainty. Such methods provide a set of observable practices that rhetoricians can analyze to understand how medical professionals attune evidentially to bodies—especially when such attunements are made all the more complex due to ongoing biological and technological change. Key constructs in rhetorical theory and material feminisms are introduced, including shadow work, ambient attunement, intra-action, rhetorical agency, and “material-discursive” as a descriptor for the kind of rhetorical labor that occurs in the biomedical backstage. The chapter also introduces each of the four case studies to follow, which include: a study of the suasive role medical images play during cancer care deliberations; a study of how inferential statistics help FDA members reason about a pharmaceutical intervention’s effectiveness; a study of how cancer screening recommendations hail from an arduous process of synthesizing hundreds of clinical trials; and a study of how genetic testing companies compute and commoditize human health.

Keywords:   backstage, scientific methods, rhetorical theory, material feminism, shadow work, attunement, intra-action, agency, material-discursive, uncertainty

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