Foss, K. (September 2020). Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media and Collective Memory. University of Massachusetts Press.

Book Description
When an epidemic strikes, media outlets are central to how an outbreak is framed and understood. While reporters construct stories intended to inform the public and convey essential information from doctors and politicians, news narratives also serve as historical records, capturing sentiments, responses, and fears throughout the course of the epidemic.

Constructing the Outbreak demonstrates how news reporting on epidemics communicates more than just information about pathogens; rather, prejudices, political agendas, religious beliefs, and theories of disease also shape the message. Analyzing seven epidemics spanning more than two hundred years—from Boston’s smallpox epidemic and Philadelphia’s yellow fever epidemic in the eighteenth century to outbreaks of diphtheria, influenza, and typhoid in the early twentieth century—Katherine A. Foss discusses how shifts in journalism and medicine influenced the coverage, preservation, and fictionalization of different disease outbreaks. Each case study highlights facets of this interplay, delving into topics such as colonization, tourism, war, and politics. Through this investigation into what has been preserved and forgotten in the collective memory of disease, Foss sheds light on current health care debates, like vaccine hesitancy.

Foss, K. [Editor]. (September 2020). The Graduate Student Guidebook: From Orientation to Tenure-Track. Rowman & Littlefield.

This anthology brings together the expertise of the AEJMC Board of Directors, offering advice on each stage of graduate school.

Foss, K. [Editor]. (2019). Beyond Princess Culture: Gender and Children’s Marketing. Peter Lang Publishing.

Foss, K. [Editor]. (2018). Demystifying the Big House: Exploring Prison Experience and Media Representations. Southern Illinois Press University.

Breastfeeding and the Media: Exploring Conflicting Discourses That Threaten Public Health  Palgrave Macmillan. 2017

This book centers on the role of media in shaping public perceptions of breastfeeding. Drawing from magazines, doctors’ office materials, parenting books, television, websites, and other media outlets, Katherine A. Foss explores how historical and contemporary media often undermine breastfeeding efforts with formula marketing and narrow portrayals of nursing women and their experiences. Foss argues that the media’s messages play an integral role in setting the standard of public knowledge and attitudes toward breastfeeding. Tracing shifting public perceptions of breastfeeding and their corresponding media constructions from the development of commercial formula through contemporary times—such as attributions of blame that have negatively impacted public health approaches to breastfeeding—the book confronts the misperception that breastfeeding, and the failure to breastfeed, rests solely on the responsibility of an individual mother.

Television and Health Responsibility in the Age of Individualism.  Lexington Books. 2014.

Book cover

American society centers on individualism, celebrating personal choice even at the expense of collective progress. As part of this emphasis on agency, Americans value freedom for health decisions, and individual health professionals and consumers are held responsible for the nation’s health, often at the expense of improving the overall healthcare system. Such individualistic discourse, disseminated and reinforced through American media, has created resistance and hostility toward health policy initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act and other legislation aimed to improve American healthcare. Television and Health Responsibility in an Age of Individualism examines the relationship between entertainment and health responsibility in the United States. Through the analysis of contemporary television medical dramas, Foss explores how these media texts help shape and perpetuate ideologies that have and continue to encourage resistance to healthcare reform that shifts responsibility away from individuals to government and other institutions.