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Derkatch, Colleen


Associate Professor


BA Honours (British Columbia); MA (Queen’s); PhD (British Columbia)




416-979-5000 ext 6131

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I’m an associate professor in the Department of English at Ryerson University, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetoric and writing studies, and supervise graduate students in rhetoric, health humanities, and science and technology studies.

In general, my research aims to understand and explain how language motivates and shapes human activity—how language produces, demarcates, and communicates systems of knowledge, expertise, and authority; how it organizes experience; and how it orients us toward certain beliefs and behaviours and away from others.

I focus specifically on discourse in the realm of health and medicine, a rich site of inquiry shaped by various, often embodied, and sometimes conflicting forms of expertise about illness, treatment, and health. The common thread in all of my work in this field is an interest in mapping points of intersection between different perspectives, modes of practice, theoretical frameworks, values, and ideologies, both within medicine and beyond, in everyday life. Such points-of-intersection include those between medical research and practice, between mainstream and alternative models of health care, between doctors and patients, between expert and popular views of evidence, and among competing understandings of bodies, illness, and even the notion of health itself. 

My first book examined rhetorical-professional boundary work in scientific studies of alternative medicine. I’m currently writing a book about the language of “wellness” and natural health.

Research Interests:

Rhetorical theory and criticism; rhetoric of science, medicine, and health; writing studies; genre theory; health humanities; science and technology studies