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The Art of Medicine in Early China
The Ancient and Medieval Origins of a Modern Archive

$112.00 (C)

  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107097056

$ 112.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • In this book, Miranda Brown investigates the myths that acupuncturists and herbalists have told about the birth of the healing arts. Moving from the Han (206 BC–AD 220) and Song (960–1279) dynasties to the twentieth century, Brown traces the rich history of Chinese medical historiography and the gradual emergence of the archive of medical tradition. She exposes the historical circumstances that shaped the current image of medical progenitors: the ancient bibliographers, medieval editors, and modern reformers and defenders of Chinese medicine who contributed to the contemporary shape of the archive. Brown demonstrates how ancient and medieval ways of knowing live on in popular narratives of medical history, both in modern Asia and in the West. She also reveals the surprising and often unacknowledged debt that contemporary scholars owe to their pre-modern forbearers for the categories, frameworks, and analytic tools with which to study the distant past.

    • The first study of Chinese medical historiography
    • Represents the first effort within the China field to demonstrate historiographical continuity between the pre-modern and the modern period
    • Written to engage specialists of both China and medical history
    • Offers an alternative to the traditional chronological treatment of history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The great strength of this book lies in its deep examination and unearthing of the key method of historiography of Chinese medicine … The book also greatly contributes to our understanding of the modern retelling of Chinese medical history since the early twentieth century. Brown argues that this narrative was not a European invention, as historian of science Joseph Needham (1900–1995) interpreted it to be. The book also urges scholars to examine a fundamental question concerning the origins and evolution of the historiography of traditional Chinese medicine in post-1949 China. All in all, this book will be of great interest to scholars in the fields of Chinese history, Chinese medical history, Chinese historiography, and the history of science and medicine in general.' Xiaoping Fang, The American Historical Review

    'Miranda Brown’s new monograph spotlights a fundamental, yet surprisingly neglected question: Why did the development of medicine in China come to be narrated in the way that it is? Her work is a pioneering foray into the historiography, the first book-length study devoted to exploring how Chinese medical history has been told.' Shigehisa Kuriyama, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

    'Through an analysis of six portrayals of figures from antiquity, three belonging to the medical history of the earliest period (Attendant He, Bian Que, and Chunyu Yi) and three from a later time (Liu Xiang, Zhang Ji, and Huangfu Mi), Miranda Brown questions the formation of myths built by acupuncturists and pharmacologists in the context of both Chinese and Western historiography. She brilliantly shows how Western scholars, despite their willingness to be scientific, are dependent on Chinese historians. … The erudition of the author, the richness and diversity of the materials used, the relevance of the epistemological questions, and the originality of the approach are the strengths of this study.' Catherine Despeux, Isis

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107097056
    • length: 251 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus. 8 maps 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Before Medical History:
    1. Attendant He: innovator or persona?
    2. Bian Que as a seer: political persuaders and the medical imagination
    3. Chunyu Yi: can the healer speak?
    Part II. Medical Histories:
    4. Liu Xiang: the imperial library and the creation of the exemplary healer list
    5. Zhang Ji: the kaleidoscopic father
    6. Huangfu Mi: from innovator to transmitter
    Epilogue: ancient histories in the modern age
    Appendix: a problematic preface.

  • Author

    Miranda Brown, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Miranda Brown is an associate professor of Asian languages and cultures at the University of Michigan. She has published numerous articles on various aspects of Chinese medical and cultural history in both English and Chinese. She is the author of The Politics of Mourning in Early China (2007) and the coauthor of A Brief History of Chinese Civilization (2012, with Conrad Schirokauer). She is the editor of Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Ancient and Medieval Pasts, a journal that she founded with leading US scholars.

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