top of page

Media Mutations 14

Investigating Medical Drama TV series: approaches and perspectives

Media Mutations 14

Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti – DAMSLab, May 18th-19th, 2023

Organized by Stefania Antonioni (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo) and Marta Rocchi (Università di Bologna).

In collaboration with the research project “Narrative Ecosystem Analysis and Development framework (NEAD framework). A systemic approach to contemporary serial product. The medical drama case”

Since its inception in 1960s, medical drama has become one of the most relevant genres on the television scene and derives its name, on one hand, from the context in which the events take place, usually the hospital; on the other, from the narrative development of medical cases, professional dynamics and sentimental relationships.
The wide diffusion and the success of this genre, almost entirely due to television, has attracted the attention not only of critics and researchers in the field of media studies, but also of providers of medical devices and more generally of medical professionals. Moreover, the recent Covid period requires further investigation from this point of view into how much this has affected the representation of medical professions in television series.
Although many of the most famous medical TV series, first and foremost E.R., are no longer airing, OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video allow the audience to continue enjoying them. Moreover, recent years have seen a global increase in serial productions of the medical genre. In this context, much research has investigated the narrative model of medical dramas and the role of the audience in their reception, also in relation to the pedagogical ability of these stories, which are considered a powerful medium from an educational point of view. Indeed, the popularization and the social impact of medical dramas are studied primarily for their influence on medical students and on the representation of healthcare delivered to the public. Medical dramas represent also relevant social themes and hence they have been analyzed from a bioethical perspective. On the same level, the representation of marginalized categories has acquired more and more importance and several medical TV series have been analyzed in gender studies considering for example the evolution of the depiction of diversity. Lastly, these products require the use of a specialized language and consequently, from a linguistic point of view, research on dubbing, medical terminology and textual analysis has also been prolific.

​Drawing on these multi-disciplinary perspectives, the conference aims to promote discussion and share research results on medical drama TV series focusing on the different methods and approaches employed for their analysis.


14:00 — Institutional greetings
Giacomo Manzoli (Università di Bologna, Head of Department of the Arts)
Guglielmo Pescatore (Università di Bologna, Media Mutations Association)
Stefania Antonioni (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo)
Marta Rocchi (Università di Bologna)

14:30 — Panel 1.
Chair: Dario Manfellotto (Internal Medicine, Ospedale Fatebenefratelli Isola Tiberina, Gemelli-Isola, Roma)
• Health Empowerment Communication in Television: A Comparative Study of Resuscitation in American and Japanese Medical Drama
Angela Chang (University of Macau), Mary Ho (Università della Svizzera italiana)
• Screening Gender Medicine: Representations of Health and the Gendered Body in Recent US-Based Dramedies and Medical Dramas Rosa Barotsi (Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Clio Nicastro (ICI Berlin), Roberta Martina Zagarella (CID Ethics-CNR)

15:30 — Panel 2.
Chair: Irene Cambra Badii (University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia)
• The Politics of Fictional Medicine: Entertainment, Propaganda, and Education in Chinese Medical Dramas
in the Xi Era
Matteo Tarantino, Natalia Riva (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
• Covid, Post-Covid and Covid-free Fantasy Worlds in Medical Drama TV Series
Eszter Nádasi (Budapest University of Technology and Economics)
• COVID-19: Narrative Engine and Characters Embedding
Allegra Sonego (Università di Bologna)

17:00 — Panel 3.
Chair: Cristina Demaria (Università di Bologna)
• From Paternalism to Paternity: the Portrayal of Fatherhood in Medical Drama TV Series (E.R., Grey’s Anatomy, New Amsterdam)
Marie Moreau (University Jean Moulin Lyon 3)
• Black Holes and Salvation: Youth and Mental Health in Italian TV Series
Chiara Checcaglini (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo)
• A Lost Generation. The Depiction of Youth and Its Illnesses in the Italian Medical Drama and Beyond: a Case Study of Four Contemporary Series From Broadcast TV and OTT Platforms
Nicola Crippa, Mattia Galli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

09:30 — Keynote speech
• 70 Years of Medical Series: a Landscape of Contents and Study Methodologies
Irene Cambra Badii (University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia)

10:45 — Panel 4.
Chair: Dominic Holdaway (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo)
• Analysing the Inner Structure of Episodes in House, M.D. Through Network Analysis
Paola Dalla Torre*, Paolo Fantozzi, Maurizio Naldi* (Univesità LUMSA)
*presenting authors
• Toward the Automatic Identification of Isotopies Based on Dialogue
Alice Fedotova*, Alberto Barrón- Cedeño (Università di Bologna)
*presenting author
• Adopting NLP Techniques to Analyze Twitter Social Discourses Around the Good Doctor
Greta Iapalucci (Università di Bologna)
• Italian Medical TV Series and the Geography of their Consumption
Giorgio Avezzù (Università degli Studi di Bergamo)

14:00 — Panel 5.
Chair: Paola Brembilla (Università di Bologna)
• “No Pulp Scenes on Raiuno!”. The Case of Cuori, an Italian Medical Drama on Broadcast Television
Elisa Farinacci, Emiliano Rossi (Università di Bologna)
• “Television Can Damage Your Health”. The Professionals’ Contributions and Opinions About the
Italian Medical Drama. The Case of Doc-Nelle tue Mani
Daniela Cardini, Fabrizia Malgieri (Università IULM)
• Doc – Nelle tue mani: Medical Narration During the Pandemic
Giulia Cavazza (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

15:15 — Panel 6.
Chair: Marco Menchetti (Università di Bologna)
• Polysemy of the Concept of Drama in the Medical Paradigm. Analysis of Usual Stereotypes of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Susanna Bandi, Federica Villa (Università di Pavia)
• Biomedical Imaging and Rhetoric of Diagnosis in Medical Dramas and Docuseries
Alice Cati (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Deborah Toschi (Università degli Studi dell’Insubria)
• Entanglements Between Social Media and TV Series: Explaining Psychology Through TV Series
Elisabetta Locatelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

16:45 — Panel 7.
Chair: Sabrina Moretti (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo)
• When the Doctor is Sick, or the Medical Antihero
Andrea Bernardelli (Università degli Studi di Ferrara)
• “No Rest for the Weary”. How E.R. Innovated Medical Drama Focusing on Empathy
Paolo Braga (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
• The (many) Functions of Disease Metaphors in the Medical Drama Tv Series House, M.D. (2004-2012, Fox)
Adeline Terry (University Jean Moulin Lyon 3)

18:00 — Closing remarks

bottom of page