Jessica Polzer

Polzer headshotAssociate Professor
MSc, PhD
Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies & Health Sciences
Office: Lawson Hall 3237
Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 81576



My program of research focuses on the politics of women's health in the 21st century, with a specific focus on the intersection of discourses on gender, health risk, and biotechnology. My current research projects include a critical discourse analysis of public media accounts of the HPV vaccine in English-speaking Canadian newspapers and health information materials. My doctoral research explored how women with family histories of breast cancer experience their risks for breast cancer, and how these experiences are shaped by the process of predictive genetic testing. I have extensive experience designing and conducting qualitative health research, and my dissertation was awarded the Illinois Distinguished Qualitative Dissertation Award by the International Center for Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006.

Selected Publications

  1. Polzer, J. and Wakewich, P. (forthcoming, 2020). Mothers who know best: Narratives of motherhood and epistemological anxieties in vaccine hesitancy discourse. In Neil Brooks and Sarah Blanchette (Eds.), Narrative Art and the Politics of Health. London, UK: Anthem Press.
  2. Polzer, J., Cayen, L., and Molinaro, M. (forthcoming, 2020). The shifting politics of health in Canada: Papanicolaou (Pap) screening, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, and cervical cancer prevention. In Tremblay, M. and Everitt, J. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Canadian Politics. London, UK: Palgrave.
  3. Haw, J., Polzer, J., Devine, D.  (2020). Emotional labour and cord blood donation: Perspectives of frontline staff. Journal of Health Organization and Management. DOI (10.1108/JHOM-10-2019-0305). 
  4.  Katzman, E., Kinsella, A., and Polzer, J. (2020). ‘Everything is down to the minute’: clock time, crip time and the relational work of self-managing attendant service. Disability and Society, 35(4): 517-541.
  5.  Haw, J., Polzer, J., Devine, D. (2019). Contextual factors influencing donor recruitment and cord blood collection: Perspectives of frontline staff of the Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank. Transfusion, 59(5), 1742-1748.
  6.  Rail, G., Molina, L., Fusco, C., Norman, M., Petherick, L., Polzer, J., Moola, F., and Bryson, M. (2018). HPV Vaccination Discourses and the Construction of "At-Risk" Girls". Canadian Journal of Public Health, 109(5-6), 622-632.
  7. Polzer, J. and Power, E. (2016). Neoliberal Governance and Health: Duties, Risks and Vulnerabilities. Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press. 
  8.  Sanford, S., Polzer, J., & McDonough, P. (2016). Preparedness as a technology of (in)security: Pandemic influenza planning and the global biopolitics of emerging infectious disease. Social Theory & Health, 14(1), 18-43.
  9.  Polzer, J., Mancuso, F. & Laliberte Rudman, D. (2014). Risk, responsibility, resistance: Young women’s negotiations of identity and healthy citizenship in human papillomavirus (HPV) narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 24(2), 281-308.
  10.   McDonough, P. & Polzer, J.  (2012). Habitus, hysteresis and organizational change in the public sector, Canadian Journal of Sociology, 37(4), 357-380.
  11.  Polzer, J. & Knabe, S. (2012). From desire to disease: Human papillomavirus (HPV) and the medicalization of nascent female sexuality. Special issue of the Journal of Sex Research on the Medicalization of Sex, 49(4), 344-352.
  12.  Mancuso, F. & Polzer, J. (2010). “It’s your body but…”: Young women’s narratives of declining human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, Canadian Woman Studies, 28 (2-3, Spring/Summer), 77-81. Special issue on Women and Cancer.
  13. Polzer, J. & Robertson, A.  (2010). Seeing and knowing in 21st century genomic medicine: The clinical pedigree as epistemological tool and hybrid risk technique, New Genetics & Society29(2), 133-147.
  14.  MacEachen, E., Polzer, J., & Clarke, J. (2008). "You are free to set your own hours": Governing worker productivity and health through flexibility and resilience, Social Science & Medicine, 66, 1019-1033.
  15. Polzer, J., Mercer, S., Goel, V. (2002). ‘Blood is thicker than water’: Genetic testing as citizenship through familial obligation and the management of risk, Critical Public Health, 12(2), 1-16.