Hand in hand with such health crises as HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and the resurgence of tuberculosis has come an explosion of scientific and medical technologies. As technology documents illness with ever greater precision and clarity, the knowledge and vocabulary of patients is being similarly expanded by activists, consumer advocates, and artists working with new electronic technologies.
Into this breach steps The Visible Woman, collecting professional, academic, and lay viewpoints on gender and the role of visual and textual representation in contemporary health and science. From fetal photography and mammography to mental retardation and chronic fatigue syndrome, The Visible Woman reveals how identities are constructed in medical research and public health initiatives, as well as in popular press accounts of health. New ways of seeing the body, through medical imaging, plastic and sexual surgery, and services for people with disabilities, are all informed, the book argues, by a broader cultural fascination with visuality and media.
Emphasizing the authors' first-hand experiences as medical practitioners, activists, scholars, and patients, The Visible Woman breaks with more established approaches that cast patients as passive objects of medical inquiry, and medical professionals as perpetrators of institutional exploitation in the name of the public good. Asking what it means to be on both ends of the microscope, The Visible Woman highlights the complex perspectives of medical and scientific practitioners who themselves exist both inside and outside their workplaces and professional identities.
The contributors are Michael Bérubé, Lisa Cartwright, Stacie A. Colwell, Richard Cone, Anne Eckman, Valerie Hartouni, Janet Lyon, Emily Martin, Gaye Naismith, Mark Rose, Ella Shohat, Vivian Sobchack, Carol Stabile, Sandy Stone, and Paula A. Treichler.