Bernice Hausman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine. She joined Penn State’s faculty in 2018, after 23 years in the English department at Virginia Tech. She studies medical controversies in the public sphere. Her publications address the history of gender variance, breastfeeding and maternal embodiment and vaccination controversy. Dr. Hausman received her training in literature and feminist studies programs at Yale University and the University of Iowa. Throughout her career, she has affiliated with various graduate programs, including Science and Technology Studies and Rhetoric and Writing.
Her research approach aligns with cultural studies of medicine, emphasizing rhetoric (the framing of arguments) and semiotics (the interpretation of sign systems). Her studies of sex change, infant feeding, and vaccination demonstrate the mutual influence of medicine and culture, highlighting how modern techniques to alter natural embodiment create social controversies and demonstrating tensions in public expectations about how to be a healthy person.
A leader in the Health Humanities, Dr. Hausman has published four single-author books and one coedited volume, as well as twenty-seven peer-reviewed journal articles. She has mentored seven doctoral students, six of whom have gone on to tenure-track positions. In her previous position she convened the Vaccination Research Group and recently, with colleagues at Penn State University Park, co-created the Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 project, which showcases submitted art work and creative writing by Pennsylvania residents about the pandemic.