Melissa Pompili Selected as Baker-Nord Center Graduate Affiliate


img_16181Congratulations to Ph.D. student Melissa Pompili, who has been selected as a Spring 2017 Graduate Affiliate of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

Graduate Affiliates deliver a public presentation in the Center on their work-in-progress and submit a brief written report at the end of their terms. The position includes a stipend of $500.

Melissa Pompili is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Writing History and Theory (WHiT) concentration. She holds an M.A. in Literature from Eastern Michigan University, and a B.A. in English from Lourdes University. Her research focuses on the sometimes contradictory subjectivities that are required by the biopolitical State from the early twentieth century to the present moment. Her theoretical investments include biopolitics and affect theory, and her work falls under the domains of medical rhetoric and the medical humanities.

Pompili’s dissertation, Internal Medicine: Bioaffect, Medical Memoir, and the Making of a Physician, examines the texts and aesthetic products that medical students produce about their time in medical school in order to investigate the ways that medical education practices encourage both the public and the physician to see the physician as a subject that has both institutional agency and (incorrectly, Pompili argues) a limited capacity for empathy. She delineates the ways this subject position is formed and maintained, and eventually revealed and resisted, by employing writing practices during medical school. Pompili produces readings of these aesthetic products – memoirs, photographs, essay collections, and short stories – and regards them as mediators between the physicians who create them and the power that is acting on those subjects in order to form them both into a configuration that serves the needs of the Biopolitical State. Arguing that the presence, conventions, and forms of these works can provide insight into the way that humanities have played a major (and somewhat overlooked) role during the late twentieth century rise of the healthcare industry as an emerging site of capital accumulation, Pompili attempts to answer the question “How are human beings made into actors who are both subjected to the disciplining of the State and those who also must carry out its work alongside their own under biopolitical articulations of power?” She hopes to shed some light on the way physicians in training are affectively (as in, emotionally and psychologically) bound to the structure of power that creates their subjectivities – all through her examination of the ways that the aesthetic facilitates, mediates, and reveals this process. As such, Pompili’s work makes scholarly contributions to the fields of Medical Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis, Biopolitics and Affect Theory, and the Medical Humanities.

Pompili’s presentation of her work-in-progress will take place during the Spring 2017 semester.