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CCCC: Cornell Classical Chinese Colloquium 古文品讀 with Lan Li

Friday, April 24, 2020 at 3:30pm to 5:30pm

Rockefeller Hall, 374 Asian Studies Lounge

Lan Li of Rice University presents this month's text reading as part of the Cornell Classical Chinese Colloquium titled, "Bones and Brains: Anatomy in Motion and Image-Text Graphic Genres"

Abstract: This discussion interrogates the representation of the brain in a 1956 reproduction of the early modern print Zang Fu Mingtang Tu 臟腑明堂圖. Despite its vague genealogy, this 20th century version of Zang Fu Mingtang Tu 臟腑明堂圖 was often associated with either a set of meridian maps from the early fourteenth century, or with an even earlier set of Inner Canon (neijing 內經) or Inner Vision (neijing 內景) treatises. What is curious about this image are the inscriptions in the head, which read: “The ocean of Yin bone marrow penetrates all the way down” 髄海至隂之在通尾骶. This suggests that inside the head/brain through the spine/back was bone marrow, not the brain--that inside the skull was not a wet, chunky lump of grey matter, but suihai 髓海 or “bone marrow sea,” which was one of the “four seas” listed in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon. By bringing together approaches in the history of medicine, art history, and science studies, this discussion opens a visual and philological study to understand the ontological implications of the brain in 臟腑明堂圖. What kinds of things were solid? What kinds of things were fluid? Was the distinction between solid and fluid a matter of scale? A matter of relative movements? How does this elaborate on the history of anatomy in classical Chinese texts?

CCCC is a reading group for students and scholars with interest in premodern Sinographic text.

All are welcome, at any level of experience with classical Chinese.

At each session, one participant presents a text in classical Chinese. Attendees discuss historical, literary, linguistic, and other aspects of the text, and work together to resolve difficulties in comprehension and translation.

Presentations include works of all sorts, from the earliest times to the twentieth century.

No preparation required: all texts will be distributed at the meeting.


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Asian Studies, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, East Asia Program, Cornell China Center


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Amala Lane

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Rice University

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wheelchair accessible; additional provided upon advanced request

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