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BA English, The Ohio State University

MTS Theology and Ethics, The Methodist Theological School in Ohio


While working on my masters at the Methodist Theological Shool in Ohio, I studied the role of narrative (especially autobiography) in religious ethics. My primary focus was on stories of marginalization; however, I became acutely aware of the theme of finitude in many personal narratives. When I came to UNC, I knew I wanted to explore these themes from a new angle. Rather than focusing on religious narratives, I investigate how people tell stories about health and the role of religion in medicine for patients, providers, and healthcare systems.

At UNC, I have studied the significance of chapels (particularly “interfaith” or psychospiritual spaces) within hospitals. Also, I was the Study Coordinator for the Writing Diabetes Study, and I have written (with my collaborators) about the impact of writing as an intervention for people with chronic illness. Finally, my dissertation investigates the rhetorical history of neonatal medicine in order to reveal the influence of antecedent religious rhetoric on the development of this subfield and to demonstrate the convergence of religion and science in contemporary accounts of premature infants.

I conceive of my research as appealing to three audiences: 1) scholars of rhetoric, 2) scholars of religion, and 3) scholars and practitioners of medicine. Thus, my research falls within the broad scope of the Medical/Health Humanities. Finally, I am exploring an interdisciplinary [or transdisciplinary] approach to rhetorical research that enacts my commitment to feminist, intersectional values.


  • Edwell, Jennifer, Singer, Sarah, and Jordynn Jack. “Healing Arts: Rhetorical Techne as Medical (Humanities) Intervention.” Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, special issue of Technical Communication Quarterly. 27(1): 1-14. 2018.
  • Edwell, Jennifer. Medical Interiors: Materiality and Spatiality in Medical Rhetoric.” Methodologies in Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, edited by Lisa Meloncon and Blake Scott. (New York: Routledge, 2018).
  • Singer, Sarah, Weed, Kym, Edwell, Jennifer, Jack, Jordynn, and Jane Thrailkill. “Advancing Pre-Health Humanities as Intensive Research Practice: Principles and Recommendations from a Cross-Disciplinary Baccalaureate Setting.” Journal of Medical Humanities, special issue on “Pre-Health Humanities Education.” First online June 2017.
  • Edwell, Jennifer, and Jordynn Jack. “Gestational Diabetes Testing, Narrative, and Medical Distrust.” Bioethical Inquiry, symposium on “Public Trust in Expert Knowledge” edited by Silvia Camporesi, Mark Davis, and Maria Vaccarella. December 2016.