The Art of Medicine in Early China
The Ancient and Medieval Origins of a Modern Archive
Cambridge University Press 2015
New Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network July 5, 2016 Carla Nappi
Miranda Brown‘s new book takes a sustained look at the role and significance of the medical fathers in the historiography of Chinese medicine. Paying careful attention to the ubiquity and persistence of figures including Bian Que, Chunyu Yi, Liu Xiang, Zhang Ji, and more, The Art of Medicine in Early China: The Ancient and Medieval Origins of a Modern Archive (Cambridge University Press, 2015) argues that the historiography of these figures reveals how early Chinese authors provided modern historians not only with the raw materials, but also the categories, genres, and objects of scholarly inquiry with which to study the past. Part 1 of the book considers representations of exemplary healers before the emergence of a category of medical history, looking closely at the rhetorical and historical contexts in which representations of these figures were produced. Part 2 of the book looks at the formation of medical histories in early China through the list of exemplary healers, and identifies a number of events that prompted responses that helped produce the present image of the early medical fathers. The result is a thoughtful account that will be of interest to readers interested in historiographical practices, as well as the histories of medicine and early China.