"AGORA:Department of Communication Graduate Student pre-conference presentations"

October 28, 2016 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

“‘A Legitimate Alternative?’: Inconclusive Findings as an Argumentative Resource in the Regulation of E-Cigarettes”


Location and Address

208B Cathedral of Learning


Schedule of Events

“Medicine or Quackery? The Argument Surrounding Research of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at the National Institutes of Health”

In its 25-year history, the name of the unit charged with studying complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been changed twice, most recently to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in December 2014. The evolution of the Center’s name reflects the controversial nature of CAM within medical and scientific communities. CAM skeptics do not believe that the Federal Government should spend any tax-payer money on CAM research since it is “quackery” while CAM supporters argue that a significant number of Americans use CAM and should be able to turn to a reputable source (such as the NIH) to learn more about it.

Given the ongoing debate about CAM’s efficacy and the movement towards evidence-based medicine, an analysis of the rhetoric surrounding NCCIH and CAM is timely. In this presentation, I explore the rhetoric used by the Center over its 25-year history to describe its research efforts and to anchor the study of CAM as a “rigorous” scientific endeavor worthy of federal expenditures. Through the examination of the language used in Congressional testimony, OAM/NCCAM/NCCIH documents, and articles written by CAM skeptics (such as posts on ScienceBasedMedicine.org and National Council Against Health Fraud website), we see how both sides use science to support their positions.


Deborah Danuser
“Symbolically Transferring the Abject: Intersex Narratives and Affect in the Documentary Intersexion”

This essay examines aspects of voice, advocacy, and speaking with/for others in the documentary film Intersexion. The film documents the stories of several intersex persons who discuss their experiences of living in a heteronormative "male-female" world. I argue that the film moves the meaning of intersex away from notions of the "abject" by transferring the source of abjectness away from the intersex body and to the medical practices that that pathologize and via through normalizing procedures. I assess how the argumentative form of documentary film creates narrative coherence that allows intersex persons to become intelligible to specific audiences targeted for the films' circulation. This analysis is situated within the context of the Intersex Rights Movement (IRM) to provide its rhetorical exigence and relevance, demonstrating how non-movement members can help raise awareness of issues for marginalized groups by speaking with, instead of for, oppressed individuals. 


Alvin Primack