Calls for Papers: Essays on the Media History of Nurses and Nursing

The intersection between nurses and popular media is longstanding. Florence Nightingale died in 1910 and British Pathe’s coverage of her funeral is a very early instance of nurses appearing on film. Nightingale was the subject of a silent film biography by 1915 and thereafter film, television, theatre and live performance and other media have showcased the nurse and the nursing profession. The familiarity of the nurse is inherently visual; the iconography of nurse in cap, cape and uniform remains current in realms from the stripper to the pop culture memories of the matron of the Carry On films, even though that iconography, especially the cap, has disappeared from real world nursing.

The presence of the nurse and the nursing profession in popular media has attracted some scholarly interest. The expression of values and professional identities, the influence of the popular understanding the actual, and particular popular culture nurses such as Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest have appeared in the scholarly literature. However more remains to be said about the variety of impressions and the diversity of platforms and representations of nursing that occur via media depictions that can range from valorising to sexualising. The interactions between the actual and the fictional, the capacity of the nurses of popular culture to mirror, distort, or inspire the nurses of the real world warrants further attention. Does seeing a nurse on screen inspire people to enter the profession? To what extent is a gender disparity in the profession attributable to mediated distillations? If nurses are the caring profession, why are there so many nurses in horror films? If Florence Nightingale was a secular saint, why is the profession’s iconography appropriated by the stripper and the porn actress? These and other questions are starting points for unpacking the media representations of the nurse.

The proposed volume is intended to be scholarly but accessible in tone and approach.

This proposed collection is under contract with a US publisher.

Abstracts of up to 250 words are invited explaining the focus and approach the chapter will take.

Please email by May 30th 2020.

Submissions can address any aspect of the intersection of nursing with popular culture, which itself can comprise media from film, television, journalism and print cultures, new and digital media, and music,
–          Soap opera and drama (Emergency Ward 10, Shortland Street, Angels, Call the Midwife among others)
–          The nurse in horror films
–          The sex industry and pornography
–          The Carry On films
–          Nurses and their reputations in the media (e.g. Florence Nightingale, Edith Cavell)
–          Celebrity nursing
–          Cultures of nursing
–          Popular artefacts of nurses and nursing
–          Popular history of nursing and nursing training
–          Nursing and propaganda

Each contribution would be 6000 words all inclusive. We could not accept contributions that require the reproduction of images unless you already hold the rights to reproduce them.

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