London School of Economics Review of Books
Technical Communication Quarterly
"Seigel contends the work of pregnancy ‘has material consequences on women’s bodies and ways of living.' Her book rearticulates this work, but she also rearticulates the work of usability, making recommendations to technical communicators to help them write documents that can provide critical access to technological systems such as the prenatal care system."
"The Rhetoric of Pregnancy . . . interrogates the medical system that has transformed pregnancy into a solely medical event equipped with machines and procedures. Seigel’s investigation of pregnancy manuals that perpetuate 'functional rather than critical access'highlights the ways in which our current medical system does not allow women choice before, during, and after pregnancy. By the end of The Rhetoric of Pregnancy, Seigel has provided an alternative: for women to create pregnancy manuals that question the system and to engage and disengage based on free will rather than being obliged to simply follow the instructions."
J. Blake Scott, author of Risky Rhetoric: AIDS and the Cultural Practices of HIV Testing
“The Rhetoric of Pregnancy connects and extends important scholarly conversations while advancing the ethical development of technical documentation and the practices (health care and otherwise) this documentation shapes. Practitioners, advocates, and pregnant women themselves will find this book accessible and instructive.”
Amy Koerber, Texas Tech University
“Seigel argues eloquently for the need to change the current US system of prenatal care, labor, and delivery, and she does so in terms that will resonate with policy makers, health care professionals, and the expecting mothers who are the most important stakeholders in this situation. She incorporates key concepts from technical communication to shed light on the rhetorical function of pregnancy manuals as documents that not only instruct women how to do the work of pregnancy, labor, and delivery but also rhetorically construct the female reproductive body in a particular way. The book will make important contributions to scholarly conversations in technical communication, medical rhetoric, and women’s studies.”
"It is only once commonsense ideas stop “making sense” that we can see the power at work in keeping certain associations and assumptions in play. Seigel’s study unveils this power by reading the cultural history of pregnancy manuals and deconstructing their logic. In the end, this deconstruction allows her to conclude that it is not only necessary, but also possible to create mainstream pregnancy manuals that facilitate empowering birth experiences. That she is able to claim this in a way that makes room for those who design, write, and publish pregnancy manuals to consider the wider implications of their rhetoric, and perhaps even feel motivated to examine their language, is one of the things that makes this book truly remarkable."
Foreword by Jane Pincus
1 Operating Instructions for Pregnancy
2 Usable Pregnancy
3 The Father of Prenantal Care: J. W. Ballantyne and System-Constitutive Documentation
4 The Mothers of Prenatal Care: Elizabeth Putnam, the IDNA, and User-Centered Care
5 Getting in the Way: Pregnancy Manuals during the Women’s Health Movement
6 What to Expect from Risk Management
7 System Error: Troubleshooting the Pregnant Body
8 Virtually Pregnant: Consuming Prenatal Care
Conclusion Instruction for Systemic Change
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu