Emily Waples, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biomedical Humanities

Emily Waples


Emily Waples is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Humanities whose interdisciplinary research and teaching examines the intersections of narrative, health, and social justice in the United States from the 18th century to the present. Analyzing cultural documents from antebellum newspaper articles and medical texts to contemporary cancer blogs and zombie films, her classes challenge students to interrogate the cultural constructions of health, illness, and disability. In courses like Going Viral: Epidemics in American History, Literature, and Culture, Professor Waples integrates historical, literary-analytical, and sociological methods to explore the ways in which epidemic disease events have shaped American ideas of citizenship and social belonging. A dark humor enthusiast, she also loves to teach first-year writing in classes like Apocalyptic Comedy.


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan
  • MSt., University of Oxford
  • B.A., Vassar College


Michael Starr Award

Research Interests

Professor Waples’ research interests include 19th-century American literature and medicine, autobiography studies, feminist theory, digital media, and health humanities pedagogy. Her current book project, a cultural history of early American public health discourse, investigates the ways in which 19th-century print media promoted an enduring model of health care as self-care in the US. She has also published articles on contemporary breast cancer narratives, and writes creative nonfiction.

Selected Publications

  • “Alcott and the Work of Nursing.” Critical Insights: Louisa May Alcott, edited by Anne Phillips and Gregory Eiselein, Salem Press, 2015, pp. 98-114.
  • “Invisible Agents: The American Gothic and the Miasmatic Imagination.” Medical Gothic, special issue of Gothic Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 2015, pp. 13- 27.
  • “Avatars, Illness, and Authority: Embodied Experience in Breast Cancer Autopathographics.” Graphic Medicine, special issue of Configurations, vol. 22, no. 2, 2014, pp. 153-181.
  • “Emplotted Bodies: Breast Cancer, Feminism, and the Future.” Theorizing Breast Cancer, special issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 33., no. 1., 2013, pp. 47-70.

Fun Facts

  • Worked as a bookseller, a bartender, and a bilingual preschool teacher in London
  • Performed in an all-female comedy troupe in college
  • Used to get queasy at medical talk

Additional Links

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