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The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi

Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy

Edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

This book is the fruit of the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on Matthew's story of the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi, held in 2014 at the University of Groningen, and attended by world-leading specialists in all relevant fields: modern astronomy, the ancient near-eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, the history of science, and religion. The scholarly discussions and the exchange of the interdisciplinary views proved to be immensely fruitful and resulted in the present book. Its twenty chapters describe the various aspects of The Star: the history of its interpretation, ancient near-eastern astronomy and astrology and the Magi, astrology in the Greco-Roman and the Jewish worlds, and the early Christian world – at a generally accessible level. An epilogue summarizes the fact-fiction balance of the most famous star which has ever shone.

Cover illustration: © Michael Farrell

David Livingstone and the Myth of African Poverty and Disease

A Close Examination of his Writing on the Pre-colonial Era

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Sjoerd Rijpma

This study about David Livingstone is different from all other publications about him. Here, Livingstone is not the main topic of interest; the focus of the author is on nutrition and health in pre-colonial Africa and Livingstone is his key informant.
David Livingstone and the Myth of African Poverty and Disease is an unusual book. After a close examination of Livingstone’s writings and comparative reading of contemporary authors, Sjoerd Rijpma has been able to draw cautious conclusions about the relatively favourable conditions of health and nutrition in southern and central Africa during the pre-colonial period. His findings shed new light on the medical history of Sub-Saharan Africa. The surprise awaiting travellers in and also before 19th century Africa was that the inhabitants of the interior, even the ‘slaves’, were healthier and better fed than many of their contemporaries in Europe’s Industrial Revolution.

“An impressive piece of scholarship, truly forensic in its close reading and re-reading of Livingstone’s published works and those of other travellers during the same era, clearly a labour of love which has taken years to complete” (Joanna Lewis).

Antiquarianism, Language, and Medical Philology

From Early Modern to Modern Sino-Japanese Medical Discourses

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Edited by Benjamin A. Elman

Based on several research seminars, the authors in this volume provide fresh perspectives of the intellectual and cultural history of East Asian medicine, 1550-1800. They use new sources, make new connections, and re-examine old assumptions, thereby interrogating whether and why European medical modernity is an appropriate standard for delineating the modern fate of East Asia’s medical classics. The unique importance of early modern Europe in the history of modern medicine should not be used to gloss over the equally unique and thus different developments in East Asia. Each paper offers an important contribution to understanding the dynamics of East Asian medicine, namely, the relationship between medical texts, medical practice, and practitioner identity. Furthermore, the essays in this volume are especially valuable for directing our attention to the movement of medical texts between different polities and cultures of early modern East Asia, especially China and Japan. Of particular interest are the interactions, similarities, and differences between medical thinkers across East Asia,
Contributors include: Susan Burns, Benjamin A. Elman, Asaf Goldschmidt, Angela KC Leung, Federico Marcon, MAYANAGI Makoto, Fabien Simonis, Daniel Trambaiolo, and Mathias Vigouroux.


Colonial Survey and Native Landscapes in Rural South Africa, 1850 - 1913

The Politics of Divided Space in the Cape and Transvaal

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Lindsay F. Braun

In Colonial Survey and Native Landscapes in Rural South Africa, 1850 - 1913, Lindsay Frederick Braun explores the technical processes and struggles surrounding the creation and maintenance of boundaries and spaces in South Africa in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The precision of surveyors and other colonial technicians lent these enterprises an illusion of irreproachable objectivity and authority, even though the reality was far messier.

Using a wide range of archival and printed materials from survey departments, repositories, and libraries, the author presents two distinct episodes of struggle over lands and livelihoods, one from the Eastern Cape and one from the former northern Transvaal. These cases expose the contingencies, contests, and negotiations that fundamentally shaped these changing South African landscapes.

Edited by Ursula Klein and Carsten Reinhardt

Leading historians of chemistry present fascinating case studies illuminating a broad array of objects of inquiry in modern chemistry, from the eighteenth century until today. These include every day items such as glass as well as invisible networks of experimentation and theory.

This collection of essays is based on two workshops that took place at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the CHF in Philadelphia.

Distribution in the Americas by Science History Publications/USA, ISBN 978-0-88135-460-7

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Edited by Jing Tsu and Benjamin A. Elman

The first of its kind, this collection of critical essays opens up new venues in the comparative study of science and culture by focusing on the formative decades of modern China in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. It provides a wide-ranging examination of the cultural and intellectual history of science and technology in modern China.From anti-imperialism to the technology of Chinese writing, the commodification of novelties to the rise of the modern professional scientist, new lexica and appropriations of the past, the contributors map out a transregional and global circuitry of modern knowledge and practical know-how, nationalism and the amalgamation of new social practices.
Contributors include: Iwo Amelung, Fa-ti Fan, Shen Guowei, Danian Hu, Joachim Kurtz, Eugenia Lean, Thomas S. Mullaney, Hugh Shapiro, Grace Shen, and Jing Tsu.

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Wyke Stommel

Online support groups are considered highly valuable in addition to traditional health care services, but we know very little about how people actually join such a group. This book offers a microanalysis of an online support group on eating disorders, specifically the communication through textual messages between newcomers and regular members and members’ nicknames. The study uses an ethnomethodological and conversation analytical approach to show that members of online support groups treat the group as a community in which their illness-identity is highly relevant. It appears that members invoke community norms regarding legitimacy for newcomers: Newcomers are expected to admit that they are ill, but this is a very difficult step for those who have not yet fully adopted the “sick role” (Parsons, 1951). In the field of eating disorders, it is particularly difficult for people that tend to pro-ana, i.e. the glamorization of eating disorders. The insecurity and anxiety that newcomers display as they enter the online group could probably be relieved when a special entry subforum would be installed in which they can take time and space to actually recognize that they are ill.

Pure, Strong and Sexless

The Peasant Woman’s Body and Gleb Uspensky

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Henrietta Mondry

Pure, Strong and Sexless explores the representation of gender and sexuality of peasant women in turn of the century Russian culture through the writings of populist writer Gleb Uspensky. Uspensky’s numerous works address a range of issues related to sexuality, including infanticide, abortion, prostitution, adultery and venereal disease. This is the first comprehensive study of populist’s fantasies in regard to the peasant woman’s body as a non-sexed utopian body within Russian fin-de-siecle sexual discourse. Included in this book is the first English translation of the diary of Uspensky’s psychiatrist, Dr Boris Sinani. This frank account portrays the tragic decline of a sensitive observer and writer into the psychotic and delusionary world of schizophrenia. This work is an invaluable source for students of Russian literature, gender studies, and history of psychiatry.

Remapping Reality

Chaos and Creativity in Science and Literature (Goethe – Nietzsche – Grass)

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John A. McCarthy

This book is about intersections among science, philosophy, and literature. It bridges the gap between the traditional “cultures” of science and the humanities by constituting an area of interaction that some have called a “third culture.” By asking questions about three disciplines rather than about just two, as is customary in research, this inquiry breaks new ground and resists easy categorization. It seeks to answer the following questions: What impact has the remapping of reality in scientific terms since the Copernican Revolution through thermodynamics, relativity theory, and quantum mechanics had on the way writers and thinkers conceptualized the place of human culture within the total economy of existence? What influence, on the other hand, have writers and philosophers had on the doing of science and on scientific paradigms of the world? Thirdly, where does humankind fit into the total picture with its uniquely moral nature? In other words, rather than privileging one discipline over another, this study seeks to uncover a common ground for science, ethics, and literary creativity.
Throughout this inquiry certain nodal points emerge to bond the argument cogently together and create new meaning. These anchor points are the notion of movement inherent in all forms of existence, the changing concepts of evil in the altered spaces of reality, and the creative impulse critical to the literary work of art as well as to the expanding universe. This ambitious undertaking is unified through its use of phenomena typical of chaos and complexity theory as so many leitmotifs. While they first emerged to explain natural phenomena at the quantum and cosmic levels, chaos and complexity are equally apt for explaining moral and aesthetic events. Hence, the title “Remapping Reality” extends to the reconfigurations of the three main spheres of human interaction: the physical, the ethical, and the aesthetic or creative.

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Edited by Martin Willis and Catherine Wynne

Victorian Literary Mesmerism examines the engagement between literature and mesmerism in Victorian writing. Drawing on recent trends in interdisciplinary literary scholarship the essays collected here investigate the complex connections between scientific mesmerism, its manifestations in the Victorian social and cultural world, and the literary imagination. Here, for the first time, the varied themes and contexts shaped by mesmeric practices are brought together in one volume. Mesmerism’s influence on phrenology, medicine and mental health; its interaction with the occult and with communication technologies; the effects of mesmeric principles on gender and sexuality, as well as on criminal behaviour, are all set within the context of literary texts that interrogate and critique mesmerism’s influence on the Victorians. This volume will be of interest, therefore, to scholars of Victorian literature and the history of science, as well as to those interested in cultural history with a focus on gender, sexuality, and sciences of the mind.