The Chinese Body: Medicine and Health, Sex and Gender

History 117D

Spring 2013
Instructor: 
Location: 
0241 STARR LIB
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-330P
CCN: 
39555
Units: 
4

This course maps the dramatic changes made to associations with the archetypal "Chinese body" (male and female) over the long sweep of Chinese history, focusing on four time periods: the early empires (4th c. BC-AD 4th c.), the transitional Song period (10th-13th c.), late imperial China (until 1911), and the modern period (down to the present).  Four interrelated themes introduced in the course are (1) health; (2) sexual activity; (3) gender construction (including homosexuality); and (4) medicine.  As will become clear, contrary to the stereotypes of "unchanging China," notions of the body have changed dramatically over the course of those two millennia, and contemporary qi gong 氣功 ("breath work") – like contemporary fengshui 風水 – has very little in common with earlier practices.

NOTE: The course presumes NO knowledge of China, of the Chinese language, or of the history of science.