Graham, S. Scott and Carl G. Herndl. “Talking Off-Label: The Role of Stasis in Transforming the Discursive Formation of Pain Science.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 41.2 (2011): 145-167. Print.
In this article Scott and Herndl discuss the Midwest Pain Group’s (MPG) attempts to collaborate across disciplinary differences to transform the discourse and practice of pain science. Explaining what the MPG does as a rhetorical process (a moment where specialists from different medical specialties gather and try to discursively/use probabilistic reasoning to work out new definitions of pain breaking Descartes’ mind/body dualism), Herndl and Scott use Foucault’s enunciative analysis and stasis theory to explain the process the members of the MPG are participating in as they attempt to change the professional discourse concerning (and consequently, eventually, the practice of dealing with) pain. What I find most important can be summed up by a few sentences found within the article’s abstract.
Foucault’s enunciative analysis explains how discourse formations regulate statements, but not how formations can be transformed. We argue that stases can be thought of as nodes in the networks of statements Foucault describes and that stasis theory explains the rhetorical means through which members of the MPG transform the discourse of pain science. (145)
Through this hybrid approach, Scott and Herndl argue MPG members create a meta-discourse at their meetings, allowing for a moment of invention where new definitional topos are created.
The three stases Graham and Herndl identify as at work in the discourse of the MPG:
(1) interpretive-definitive stasis, which asks “What does construct y mean?” and (2) evidential-translative, which asks: “Which from among alternative evidence better addresses the ambiguities about existence?” The third stasis, which we call the practical-translative, we infer from our data in order to account for stasis issues in medical practice. (155)
Why Graham and Herndl marry enuciative analysis to stasis theory:
Enunciative analysis studies the “disruption of gaps, voids, absences, limits, divisions” that govern the dispersion of statements and the specification of objects by discursive formations (119). Such analysis separates what gets said from what cannot be said because it lies outside the regular formation of objects and statements that characterize discourse…Foucault argues that “the purpose [of analysis] is to map, in a particular discursive practice, the point at which they [contradictions] are constituted, to define the form they assume, the relations they have to each other, and the domain they govern”(155-56). This mapping exposes the shape of discursive fomratinos and how they regulate statements, but it does not articulate a theory of change or identify any mechanism through which subject might change discursive practices and formations. Foucault’s analsysis recognizes the existnence of contradictions and incoherence in discursive formations, but fails to explain how change might occur. (151)
Important note: Graham and Herndl claim this type of transformative discourse occurs “off-label,” or when the MPG members talk after the official presentations at every meeting. The talk during the presentations (even the Q&A it seems) is restricted by disciplinary conventions and jargon as well as FDA and DEA regulations.