Dissertation Defense

Just for fun I thought I’d post my dissertation defense notes.


Rhetorics of pain:  Agency and regulation in the medical-industrial complex

Disciplinary Project

  1. Rhetoric of science → Rhetoric of technoscience & medicine
    1. Scientific discourse → Material-semiotic networks
    2. Ontology, materiality, power, agency
  2. Textual analysis → Critical systems ethnography
    1. Everything’s an object of inquiry
    2. Capturing the ephemeral
  3. Ethical subproject
    1. Valorization → Criticism
    2. (Post)modernism → Nonmodernism
    3. 2nd Wave → 3rd Wave

Theoretical Project

  1. A case-study in incommensurability & integrative exigencies
    1. Pragmatic commensurability
  2. Rhetorical theory of agency/regulation
    1. Continue the project of folding agency into regulation
    2. Account for the mechanisms of agency from this perspective
      1. Black-boxing, principles of rarefaction, enlistment, detours, stasis theory
    3. Problematize the chronicity issue
  3. Foucault and rhetorical theory
    1. Transformation, change, & stasis theory
    2. Principles of rarefaction & warranting topoi

Political Project

  1. Contribute to the identification of hegemony in the MIC
  2. Contribute to the understanding of avenues to change in the MIC
  3. Contribute to the efforts of hybrid pain theorists


That’s it. I was strictly forbidden from a) speaking for more than 10 minutes, b) preparing a PowerPoint presentation, or c) summarizing the dissertation. And that said, it was a great meeting. I received a lot of fantastic feedback for the book.

3 thoughts on “Dissertation Defense

  1. christa

    Hi Scott. I’d love to hear more about numbers 3, 4. I’m sure they’re impossible to unpack in a simple blog comment, but maybe you might think about structuring a blog post related to one or both (or a fraction)?

  2. Scott Post author

    Hey Christa. So the first thing I discovered from your comment is that when I copied and pasted this list into wordpress it made the order all janky. Thus, I immediately felt the need to fix it. Of course after all that was done, I then realized that the numbers had changed and while I know 3 is now Disciplinary Project 3, I’m not as sure about 4.

    I can unpack Disciplinary Project 3, though:
    DiscProj 3A This is just an explicit shift away from the late 80s & 90s tendency in our field (that continues somewhat to the present) to justify studying science because it’s the coolest thing out there–either A) because it’s discovering the realtruths out there, or b) because scientists are truly great rhetors. My research focuses on the medical-industrial complex. As such, it’s overtly critical.

    DiscProj 3B I accept Latour’s argument from We have never been modern that postmodernity just accepts modernity’s binaries and merely reverses which side gets privileged. I hope to contribute to a model of inquiry that truly erases binaries.

    DiscProj 3C Here I’m riffing on Collins, H., & Evans, R. (2002). The Third Wave of Science Studies: Studies of Expertise and Experience. Social Studies of Science, 32(2), 235-296. They argue that STS needs to move away from a solely critical project towards one that actually contributes to the ways in which science and science-policy are developed.

    If you let me know what I’ve renumbered 4 as, I’d be happy to take a whack at unpacking that too– though I’d probably save that for an actual blog post as you suggest.

  3. christa

    I think #4 must have been about the theory of agency/regulation.

    Thanks for unpacking #3. Some really smart, interesting points you’re making…

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