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Home > Archives > Previous years: Workshops and Colloquie > Journées et colloques 2019-2020 > Metaphors for learning medicine by the book

Metaphors for learning medicine by the book

by Marta Hanson
(The Johns Hopkins University,
Department of the History of Medicine)

Talks in the framework

Tuesday December 3, 2019, 2pm–4pm
University Paris Diderot,
Building Condorcet,
Room Gris, 734A

Cover page of a medicine book on the pulse and written in verse, using in its title the characters "Fingers" and "Palm" of the hand (Manual in verse for a study of the pulse).

The essentials, behind the elbows, for emergencies, gold, hand-held, and heart-mind mirrors, pointing south and pointing to one’s palm, within or hung from the sleeves – these are just some of the metaphors found in Chinese medical titles from late antiquity through the late medieval period. This talk focuses on the transformations in the main metaphors that authors of Chinese medical books used to convey to potential readers their “learning-by-the-book” contents. It finds that in contrast to the European preference for hand metaphors in enchiridions, manuals, and handbooks, the Chinese medical archive preserves a wide variety of bodily metaphors within which the hand metaphor appears very late and then is superseded by metaphors that rely rather on the fingers and palms. After a survey of the metaphors used in titles of Chinese medical texts, we explore the many ways Chinese healers used their hands mnemonically to think with, what concepts of time and space, Heaven and Earth, mattered in their medical practice, and how exploring this phenomenon reveals deeper cognitive practices in Chinese medicine and broader transformations in Chinese history.

Dr. Marta Hanson is an associate professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the history of Chinese science and medicine.

Organisation: Florence Bretelle-Establet (CNRS, CHSA–SPHERE)

University Paris Diderot – CNRS
Laboratoire SPHERE - UMR 7219
Building Condorcet, 4, rue Elsa Morante
75013 Paris

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