History of Chinese Medicine-W

History 350L (Unique 39260) & ANS 361 (Unique 30715)
T 5:00-8:00 P.M., UTC 3.120
Fall 2010

Professor: Roger Hart
Office: GAR 3.216
Office hours: Tues. and Wed., 1:30-3:00 p.m. and by appt.
e-mail: rhart@mail.utexas.edu

Note: Please bookmark this syllabus -- I may be revising it and making adjustments to the readings as the course progresses.


This course adopts an interdisciplinary approach -- drawing on cultural history, anthropology, gender studies, and philosophy -- to the study of Chinese medicine analyzed in its intellectual, social, and cultural context. The course will emphasize the following components: (i) reading primary texts (in translation); (ii) a historical overview of the development of Chinese medicine; (iii) examining different methodological approaches; and (iv) critically assessing contemporary debates over Chinese medicine. We will also examine emerging trends in current research.

We will begin with a critical reading of articles in influential medical journals (including the New England Journal of Medicine) attacking Chinese and "alternative" medicine. We will then read the most important texts from the Chinese medical tradition, ranging from early oracle bone inscriptions from 1200 B.C. and the canonical Inner Classic of the Yellow Lord (Huang di nei jing) to treatises from the Ming and Qing dynasties and contemporary works on Chinese medicine. We will explore the diversity of practices in Chinese medicine, ranging from divination, physiology, pharmacology, and surgery to competing attempts to establish philosophical and metaphysical theories of medicine based on yin-yang, five phases, Daoism, and Neo-Confucianism. Our approach will be interdisciplinary, including philological analyses of early medical texts, sociological analyses of the adoption of Neo-Confucianism by medical practitioners, literary studies of Ming medical case histories, anthropological studies of spirit-possession in contemporary Taiwan, and political analyses of Mao Zedong's mass movement to eradicate schistosomiasis. We will also examine the transformations of Chinese medicine through the incorporation of Western theories of medicine (for example, the elimination of bloodletting from acupuncture through the adoption of modern physiology), along with the implications for claims that Chinese medicine is "traditional." Finally, we will return to debates over "Chinese medicine" as an alternative to "Western medicine," including articles from the Bulletin of the American Medical Association, questions of insurance coverage, the funding of research, and networks of medical expertise and trust.

This course is designed for students interested in the history, sociology, and anthropology of medicine, East Asian studies, or studies of "non-Western" cultures. All primary texts will be available in Chinese and in English translation; no knowledge of Chinese is required for the course.

Course Requirements

Class attendance is mandatory.

The grade will be based on in-class quizzes and class participation (20%), mid-term and final examinations (30%), and a final paper (50%).

For resources for help with writing, see the web page of the Undergraduate Writing Center. For suggestions on writing the final paper, see "Writing Term Papers."



John R. Trimble, Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000).

Historical Background

Paul U. Unschuld, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).


Readings will be made available through the ERes Electronic Reserves System:


This electronic reserves page is password-protected; please email me if you need the password.


Week 1 (Aug. 31). Introduction

Required readings

David N. Keightley, "Science of the Ancestors," MS.

Week 2 (Sept. 7). Contemporary Debates

Required readings

Richard J. Ko, "Adulterants in Asian Patent Medicines" New England Journal of Medicine 339 no. 12 (September 17, 1998): 847.

Marcia Angell and Jerome P. Kassirer, "Alternative Medicines: The Risks of Untested and Unregulated Remedies," New England Journal of Medicine 339 no. 12 (September 17, 1998): 839-841.

"The New Face of Traditional Chinese Medicine," Science 299 (10 January 2003): 188-90.

Roger Hart, "Beyond Science and Civilization: A Post-Needham Critique," East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine 16 (1999): 88-114.

Shigehisa Kuriyama, The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (New York: Zone Books, 1999), selections.

G. E. R. Lloyd and Nathan Sivin, The Way and the Word: Science and Medicine in Early China and Greece (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), selections.

Week 3 (Sept. 14). Early Chinese Divination, Science, and Medicine

Primary sources

"Cauterization Canon of the Eleven Vessels of the Foot and Forearm," in Early Chinese Medical Literature: The Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts, trans. Donald J. Harper (London: Kegan Paul International, 1998), pp. 187-202.

Required readings

Harper, "Medicine, Medical Literature, Medical Men," Early Chinese Medical Literature, pp. 42-67.

Supplementary readings

Paul U. Unschuld, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas, Comparative Studies of Health Systems and Medical Care (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pp. 1-50.

Donald Harper, "The Sexual Arts of Ancient China as Described in a Manuscript of the Second Century B.C.," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 47, no. 2 (1987): 539-593.

Nathan Sivin, "Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time," reprinted in Sivin, ed., Science and Technology in East Asia (New York: Science History Publications, 1977), 109-122.

Nathan Sivin, "State, Cosmos, and Body in the Last Three Centuries B.C., " Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 55 no. 1 (1995): 5-37.

Week 4 (Sept. 21). Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts

Primary sources

"Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments," selections, in Early Chinese Medical Literature, trans. Harper, pp. 221-67.

Required readings

Harper, "Medical Ideas and Practices," Early Chinese Medical Literature, pp. 68-109.

Week 5 (Sept. 28). Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts (2)

Primary sources

"Cauterization Canon of the Eleven Yin and Yang Vessels, Ed. A," "Model of the Vessels," "Death Signs of the Yin and Yang Vessels," and "Ten Questions," in Early Chinese Medical Literature, trans. Harper, pp. 204-20 and 386-410.

Required readings

Harper, "Magic," Early Chinese Medical Literature, 148-183.

Weeks 6-8 (Oct. 5, 12, 19). Inner Classic of the Yellow Lord [Huang di nei jing su wen]

Primary sources

Inner Classic of the Yellow Lord (Huang di nei jing su wen), selections. Trans. in Ilza Veith, Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen: The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). Note: This text ; a translation by Paul U. Unschuld will soon be available.

Required readings

Paul U. Unschuld, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), selections.

Supplementary readings:

Selections from Paul U. Unschuld, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

Nathan Sivin, "Huang ti nei ching," in Michael Loewe, ed., Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide, vol. 2, Early China Special Monograph Series (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1993).

Week 9 (Oct. 26). Classic of Difficult Issues

Primary sources

Selections from Nan-Ching: The Classic of Difficult Issues, with Commentaries by Chinese and Japanese Authors from the Third Through the Twentieth Century, trans. Paul U. Unschuld, Comparative Studies of Health Systems and Medical Care (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).

Supplementary readings

D. C. Epler, "Bloodletting in early Chinese medicine and its relation to the origin of acupuncture," in Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1980).

Donald Harper, "The conception of illness in early Chinese medicine, as documented in newly discovered 3rd and 2nd century B.C. manuscripts. Part 1," in Sudhoffs Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften (1990).

Paul U. Unschuld, "Concepts of Illness in Ancient China: The Case of Demonological Medicine, " Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 5 no. 2 (1980): 117-132.

Lu Gwei-djen and Joseph Needham, "Records of Diseases in Ancient China," in Don Brothwell and A. T. Sandison, ed. Diseases in Antiquity: A Survey of Diseases, Injuries and Surgery of Early Populations (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1967).

Selections from Unschuld, Medicine in China.

Donald Harper, [Mawangdui medical texts], in Edward L. Shaughnessy, ed. New Sources of Early Chinese History: An Introduction to the Reading of Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Early China Special Monograph Series, no. 3. (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1997).

Michel Strickmann, "On the Alchemy of T'ao Hung-ching," in Facets of Taoism: Essays in Chinese Religion, ed. Holmes Welch and Anna Seidel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 123-192.

Week 10 (Nov. 2). The Social Context of Medical Practitioners

Primary sources (Tang-Song)

Selections from Unschuld, Introductory Readings.

Selections from Sun Simiao, Essential Subtleties on the Silver Sea: The Yin-hai jing-wei, A Chinese Classic on Ophthalmology, translated and annotated by Jürgen Kovacs and Paul U. Unschuld (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).

Required readings

Robert P. Hymes, "Not Quite Gentlemen? Doctors in Sung and Yuan," Chinese Science 8 (1987): 9-76.

Angela Leung, "Transmission of Medical Knowledge from the Sung to the Ming," in Song-Yuan-Ming Transition, ed. Richard von Glahn and Paul Smith.

Cullen, Christopher. 1993. "Patients and Healers in Late Imperial China: Evidence from the Jinpingmei," History of Science 31, no. 2: 99-150.

Supplementary readings:

Selections from Unschuld, Medicine in China.

Week 11 (Nov. 9). Case Studies in Imperial China

Primary sources (Ming)

Selections from Unschuld, Introductory Readings.

Ming cases appended to Zeitlin's article (listed below).

Required readings

Judith Zeitlin, "Ming Case Histories and the Literary Structure of Medical Authority: The Writings of Sun Yikui," MS.

Charlotte Furth, "Bodily Androgyny and Gender Differences in Ming Dynasty Clinical Narratives," MS.

Ulrike Unschuld, "Traditional Chinese Pharmacology: An Analysis of its Development in the 13th Century, " Isis (1977) 68: 224-248.

Supplementary readings:

Selections from Unschuld, Medicine in China.

Helen Dunstan, "The Late Ming Epidemics: A Preliminary Survey," Ch'ing shih wen-t'i 3 no. 3 (1975): 1-59.

Angela Leung, "Organized Medicine in Ming-Qing China: State and Private Medical Institutions in the Lower Yangzi Region, " Late Imperial China 8, no. 1 (1987): 134-166.

Week 12 (Nov. 16). Gender Studies (Late Imperial China)

Primary sources

Selections from Unschuld, Introductory Readings.

Required readings

Francesca Bray, Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Later Imperial China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997), Part 3, "Meanings of Motherhood: Reproductive Technologies and Their Uses" (pp. 275-368) and "Conclusion: Gynotechnics and Civilization" (pp. 369-380).

Charlotte Furth, A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China's Medical History, 960-1665 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), chapters 4-9 (pp. 134-312).

Supplementary readings:

Charlotte Furth, "Androgynous Males and Deficient Females: Biology and Gender Boundaries in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century China, " Late Imperial China 9 no. 2 (1988): 1-31.

Week 13 (Nov. 23). Republican China

Primary sources

Nathan Sivin, Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China (University of Michigan China Center, 1987), selections.

Required readings

Sean Lei, "From Changshan to a New Antimalarial Drug--Re-networking Chinese Drugs and Excluding Chinese Doctors, " MS.

Judith Farquhar, "'Medicine and the Changes Are One': An Essay on Divination Healing with Commentary, " Chinese Science 13 (1996): 107-134.

Judith Farquhar, "Multiplicity, Point of View, and Responsibility in Traditional Chinese Healing," in Angela Zito and Tani E. Barlow, eds., Body, Subject & Power in China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

Supplementary readings:

American Herbal Pharmacology Delegation and Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (U.S.), Herbal Pharmacology in the People's Republic of China : A Trip Report of the American Herbal Pharmacology Delegation: Submitted to the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (Washington: National Academy of Sciences, 1975).

Week 14 (Nov. 30). Traditional Chinese Medicine in the U.S.: Recent research in medical journals on Traditional Chinese Medicine

Final exam -- in class.

Final paper due.

Optional readings

Judith Farquhar, Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine, Studies in the Ethnographic Imagination (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994).

E. Ernst, "Harmless herbs? A review of the recent literature," American Journal of Medicine, 104.2 (Feb 1998): 170-178.

E. Ernst, "Adulteration of Chinese herbal medicines with synthetic drugs: a systematic review," Journal of Internal Medicine 252.2 (Aug 2002): 107-113.

F. Kronenberg and A. Fugh-Berman, "Complementary and alternative medicine for menopausal symptoms: A review of randomized, controlled trials," Annals of Internal Medicine 137.10 (Nov 19 2002): 805-813.

J. Kleinhenz, K. Streitberger, J. Windeler, et al., "Randomised clinical trial comparing the effects of acupuncture and a newly designed placebo needle in rotator cuff tendinitis," Pain 83.2 (Nov 1999): 235-241.

H. Boon, M. Stewart, M. A. Kennard, et al., "Use of complementary/alternative medicine by breast cancer survivors in Ontario: Prevalence and perceptions," Journal of Clinical Oncology 18.13 (Jul 2000): 2515-2521.

J. L. Tang, S. Y. Zhan, and E. Ernst, "Review of randomised controlled trials of traditional Chinese medicine," British Medical Journal 319.7203 (Jul 17 1999): 160-161.

Further Readings

D. Normile, "Asian medicine: The new face of traditional Chinese medicine," Science 299.5604 (January 10, 2003): 188-190.

J. K. Liu and T. Henkel, "Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): Are polyphenols and saponins the key ingredients triggering biological activities?" Current Medicinal Chemistry, 9.15 (Aug 2002): 1483-1485.

S. Leclerc, M. Garnier, R. Hoessel, et al., "Indirubins inhibit glycogen synthase kinase-3 beta and CDK5/P25, two protein kinases involved in abnormal tau phosphorylation in Alzheimer's disease - A property common to most cycline-dependent kinase inhibitors?" Journal of Biological Chemistry 276.1 (Jan 5 2001): 251-260.

S. Joos, C. Schott, H. Zou, et al., "Immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of allergic asthma: A randomized controlled study," Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 6.6 (Dec 2000): 519-525.

R. Yuan and Y. Lin, "Traditional Chinese medicine: an approach to scientific proof and clinical validation," Pharmacology & Therapeutics 86.2 (May 2000): 191-198.

F. Cardini and W. X. Huang, "Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation - A randomized controlled trial," JAMA-Journal Of The American Medical Association 280.18 (Nov 11 1998): 1580-1584.

S. Andersson and T. Lundeberg, "Acupuncture - From Empiricism to Science - Functional Background to Acupuncture Effects in Pain and Disease," Medical Hypotheses 45.3 (Sep 1995): 271-281.

R. Han, "Highlight on the Studies of Anticancer Drugs Derived from Plants in China," Stem Cells 12.1 (Jan 1994): 53-63.

Journal of the American Medical Association 280 no. 18 (November 11, 1998):

Medical Student Journal of the American Medical Association 279 no. 9 (March 4, 1998):

M. S. Wetzel, D. M. Eisenberg, T. J. Kaptchuk, "Courses Involving Complementary and Alternative Medicine at US Medical Schools," Journal of the American Medical Association 280 no. 9 (September 2, 1998), pp. 784-787.

Edward W. Campion, "Why Unconventional Medicine?" New England Journal of Medicine 328 no. 4 (January 28, 1993), p. 282.

Academic Integrity

Policies on academic integrity are posted on the following webpage:



Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.