Dr. Melissa Bailar

WEBSITE(S)| Medical Humanities Research Institute

Research Interests:
One branch of Melissa Bailar’s research focuses primarily on medical and anatomical museums, particularly questions about their curation and the ways in which their objects play on the uncanny. This has led her to an interest in the history of anatomical models, specifically the “anatomical venuses” fabricated during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Dr. Bailar is also working on multimedia narratives in collaboration with a patient, Tuwayne Foster, detailing his experiences with the medical system as he suffers from renal failure. Their work traces the daily challenges patients of color and of low socio-economic status face in navigating medical institutions, long-term care facilities, transplant lists, and more and how bias affects physical and mental health. She is also part of an international team investigating the socio-cultural effects of radiation exposure stemming from major nuclear events.

Teaching and Advising:
Dr. Bailar has taught courses in medical humanities at Rice since 2015, including MDHM 201: Introduction to Medical Humanities, ENGL 272: Literature and Medicine, and MDHM 430: One-Semester Medical Humanities Practicum. During the 2022-23 academic year, she is focused on expanding and coordinating the various medical humanities practica options. She hosts regular advising sessions for students interested in this area of study. She has also taught undergraduate courses in French and Francophone literature and film and graduate courses on contemporary concerns in media theory. She has served on multiple dissertation committees for graduate students in the English Department.

Dr. Bailar is currently Senior Lecturer and Associate Director of the Medical Humanities Program at Rice. She earned her Ph.D. in French and Francophone studies from Rice University and has held several positions in the School of Humanities. She has published articles on literary representations of anatomy, the actress Sarah Bernhardt, the feminist poet Nicole Brossard, digital archives, and trends in higher education. Dr. Bailar has also been a PI on multiple grants supported by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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