Discourses of Disease

Writing Illness, the Body and the Mind in Modern China

The meanings of disease have undergone such drastic changes with the introduction of modern Western medicine into China during the last two hundred years that new discourses have been invented to theorize illness, redefine health, and reconstruct classes and genders. As a consequence, medical literature is rewritten with histories of hygiene, studies of psychopathology, and stories of cancer, disabilities and pandemics. This edited volume includes studies of discourses about both bodily and psychiatric illness in modern China, bringing together ground-breaking scholarships that reconfigure the fields of history, literature, film, psychology, anthropology, and gender studies by tracing the pathological path of the “Sick Man of East Asia” through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into the new millennium.

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Biographical Note

Howard Y. F. Choy, Ph.D. (2004), University of Colorado at Boulder, is Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the author of Remapping the Past: Fictions of History in Deng's China, 1979-1997 (Brill, 2008) and numerous scholarly articles.

Review Quotes

"a fascinating examination of the way in which discourses of disease have developed in China from the late nineteenth century on. The contributors are a mix of well-established names and newer scholars from institutions in the US, Hong Kong and Australia, and from several disciplines—predominantly Chinese Studies-related, but also comparative literature and education—which allows for a range of approaches and perspectives."
Sarah Dauncey, University of Nottingham, Journal of the British Association for Chinese Studies, Vol. 7 July 2017

Table of contents

Acknowledgments
List of Figures
List of Contributors

Introduction: Disease and Discourse
Howard Y. F. Choy

Part I Hygiene and Psychosis: From Routine to Poetry
1. James Henderson’s Shanghai Hygiene and the British Constitution in Early Modern China
Stephanie Villalta Puig
2. Curing Unhappiness in Revolutionary China: Optimism under Socialism and Capitalism
Wendy Larson
3. Metaphors unto Themselves: Mental Illness Poetics and Narratives in Contemporary Chinese Poetry
Birgit Linder

Part II Drugs and Cancers: From Nation to Fiction
4. Unmaking of Nationalism: Drug Addiction and Its Literary Imagination in Bi Shumin’s Novel
Haomin Gong
5. Narrative as Therapy: Stories of Breast Cancer by Bi Shumin and Xi Xi
Howard Y. F. Choy
6. Narrating Cancer, Disabilities, and AIDS: Yan Lianke’s Trilogy of Disease
Shelley W. Chan

Part III AIDS and Virus: From Film to Forum
7. Reluctant Transcendence: AIDS and the Catastrophic Condition in Gu Changwei’s Film Love for Life
Kun Qian
8. Alone Together: Contagion, Stigmatization and Utopia as Therapy in Zhao Liang’s AIDS Documentary Together
Li Li
9. The Unknown Virus: The Social Logic of Bio-conspiracy Theories in Contemporary China
Kevin Carrico

Index

Readership

Scholars and students interested in modern and contemporary Chinese medical humanities, particularly literature, film, history, psychology, anthropology, and gender studies, as well as medical practitioners concerned with China.

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