The School of Journalism and Communication congratulates Dr. Melodie Cardin on the successful defence of her PhD dissertation, “As Long as it’s Healthy: Prenatal Health, Disability and Biopower.”

“What are we really saying in the mantra, ‘as long as it’s healthy,’ and what does this say about how we both envision and discipline disabled and pregnant bodies?” Cardin asks.

“The experience of pregnancy has been profoundly changed by the increased use of prenatal testing technologies that look for conditions characterized as disabilities,” she says. “My dissertation documents the anxiety caused to pregnant people when disability is framed as both a burden and risk, with disproportionate consequences for mothers—and it points to specific ways that both disabled people and pregnant people are under-supported by the healthcare system.”

Professor Miranda Brady, who supervised Cardin’s research, described the dissertation as “artfully written, thoughtfully designed and theoretically sophisticated.” In particular, she notes that the study was executed with, “an abundance of care, examining the disciplinary function of prenatal testing through addressing the agency, real-life dilemmas, deep-seated hopes, fears and pain of potential parents in their experiences of pregnancy.”

The 5-member examination board found the dissertation to be remarkably well-written and described Cardin’s defence as “stellar.” According to Brady, “Cardin’s dissertation was truly one of the best-written and most thoughtfully designed studies I’ve ever seen. It should be upheld as a beacon of excellence for future scholarship in this area.”

Nancy Hansen, Director of the University of Manitoba’s Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Disability Studies, was the dissertation external examiner. In her report to the university, Professor Hansen describes the study as, “a fine example of academic scholarship of the highest calibre, a joy to read, and excellent in every respect.” Of the examination itself, Hansen noted how Cardin’s defence “mirrored the excellence reflected in the written dissertation, demonstrating an analytical ability that is exceedingly rare.”

Currently, Cardin is teaching a third-year undergraduate course in Carleton’s Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies program on media and disability studies. She is already presenting her research at scholarly conferences and hopes to rework the dissertation into an academic monograph.

Cardin defended her dissertation on October 22, 2021. She will officially graduate in the Spring 2022 convocation ceremony.

Thursday, October 28, 2021 in
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