1st Edition

A History of Rhetoric, Sound, and Health and Healing

By Kristin Marie Bivens Copyright 2025
    160 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A History of Rhetoric, Sound, and Health and Healing argues for medico-sonic knowledge – systematically interpreted bodily sounds with medical knowledge mediated by rhetoric – as an evolving corporeal practice with an incomparable, sprawling history.

    Taking a materialist-feminist perspective, the book rhetorically accounts for sound and suggests rhetoric enables bodily sounds as understandable, knowable, and treatable with power to help and discipline bodies in health, healing, and hospital contexts. From an expansive, pan-historiographic approach integrated with and influenced by fieldwork from neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in Denmark and the United States, the author explores intentional and unintentional diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic uses of sound in contemporary Western biomedical health systems and promotes a new research concept and fieldwork practice, sound in all research.

    The insightful, timely volume will interest students and researchers in the medical humanities, rhetoric and communication, health communication, sound studies, medical and allied health sciences, and research methods.

    Chapter 1: Sound and Rhetoric in Health and Healing: A Conflux of Rhetoric and Sound

    Chapter 2: A Sonic Lineage of Percussion and Auscultation from Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman Medicine

    Chapter 3: Integrating Rhetoric with the Sonic and the Body: Intentional and Unintentional Diagnostic, Prognostic, and Therapeutic Uses of Sound in Contemporary Western Biomedical Health Systems

    Chapter 4: Unintentional Sound and Earwitnessing in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

    Chapter 5: Behaving as Responsible Researchers in Sonic Health, Healing, and Hospital Spaces


    Kristin Marie Bivens is a scholar of the rhetoric of health and medicine and the head of education and training in the Department of Clinical Research at the University of Bern in Switzerland. She also leads the patient and public involvement program in clinical research.