The class recording and handouts will be uploaded within 24 hours exclusively for Inner Circle Members. Marta will be answering questions in the comments section between February 3 and March 31, 2023
The meeting will open at exactly 12pm.
Use the password: grasp to enter.
Marta Hanson's current research project brings together the history of the body, divination, and prognostication in Chinese medical history with the extended-mind hypothesis in cognitive science. To this end, she is writing a book manuscript titled Grasping Heaven and Earth: The Healer’s Hand in Classical Chinese Medicine that demonstrates how Chinese healers deployed their hands to think with as well as their bodies to heal. In this class, she will introduce arguments she makes in an article "The Mind in Hand in the Classified Canon (Leijing 類經, 1624)” to be published in La Revue Historique (The Historical Revue).
“The Mind in Hand” broadly contributes to “the history of hands” by focusing on how one early seventeenth-century Chinese physician, Zhang Jiebin 張介賓 (1563-1640), wrote about hands in his three-part medical treatise published in 1624: the Classified Canon (Leijing 類經), and two appendices Illustrated Wing (tuyi圖翼), and Appended Wing (fuyi附翼). This essay follows the structure of Zhang’s essay titled “Pointing-to-the-Palm Explanation” (Zhizhang jie 指掌解) published beside an illustration of one of two hand mnemonics he also included in the Illustrated Wing appendix. Just as diviner’s calculated fate with their hands, Zhang used hand mnemonics to help physicians corporeally and conceptually grasp complex temporal systems they considered necessary to situate ill patients within predictable transformations of Heaven and Earth.
As a case study of the transcultural phenomenon of thinking with hands, Zhang Jiebin’s essay “Pointing-to-the-Palm Explanation,” and his Classified Canon more broadly, allows one to make four distinctions of how hands were used to think through things in early seventeenth-century China: 1) the universal hand, 2) the patient’s hand, 3) the diviner’s hand, and 4) the healer’s hand. The universal hand refers to the various ways in which Chinese used hands to think through microcosm-macrocosm relationships, such as considering the ten fingers as analogous to the ten-day time period. The patient’s hand designates the aspects of human hands physicians needed to understand for treatments, such as where the channels originated on the fingers and locations of acupuncture points on the hands. The diviner’s hand differentiates the hand mnemonics that diviner’s used to facilitate their fate calculations. The healer’s hand includes not only instructions for healers on how to feel pulses, hold needles, and such manual techniques, but also, like the diviner’s hand, use hand mnemonics to memorize, think through things, and make decisions. “The mind in hand” demonstrates how early modern Chinese diviners and healers alike instrumentalized their hands as an extension of their minds.
Marta Hanson is a retired Associate Professor of the history of East Asian medicine in the Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University (2004-2021). Before that she taught late imperial Chinese history at the University of California, San Diego (1997-2004). She has published broadly on the history of medicine in China and public health in East Asia. Her first monograph is titled Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine: Disease and the Geographic Imagination in Late Imperial China (Routledge, 2011). She is currently writing a second book titled “‘Grasping Heaven and Earth’ (Qian Kun zaiwo 乾坤在握): The Healer’s Hand in the Classified Canon (Leijing類經), 1624.”
Related to contemporary issues, she has written about Chinese medical responses to SARS and what COVID19 has revealed about US-China differences specifically and patterns of responses to pandemics generally. Within cross-cultural medical history, she has an on-going scholarly collaboration with Gianna Pomata (early modern European historian) on 17th- to 18th-century translations of Chinese medical texts into European languages. This has resulted in several publications related to the Specimen Medicinæ Sinicæ (1682), the first translation into Latin of Chinese medical texts.
She was senior co-editor of the journal Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity (2011-2016), President of the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine (ISHEASTM, 2015-2019), and is currently on the editorial boards of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine, East Asian Science, Technology, and Society, Asian Medicine, and the new journal Chinese Medicine and Culture. She is currently editing a special issue of Chinese Medicine and Culture on Chinese sources for Narrative Medicine and advising the inaugural issue of the Asian Journal of Medical Humanities on Narrative Medicine in China.
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