Introduction to the Sympoisum
This conference covers four major themes: “The Production, Reading, and Circulation of Medical Texts,” “Medical Knowledge and Medical Writing,”“The Interaction, Clash, and Integration of Chinese and Foreign Medical Texts and Medical Knowledge,” and “The Manipulation and Application of Medical Knowledge.”It is expected that the scholars in attendance will approach these themes from different perspectives, such as the history of the book, narrative history, and the history of medical exchange between China and foreign countries, to analyze and comment on various medical texts and the knowledge contained therein, as well as the interaction amongst medicine, the state, and society.Further, we wish to see participants delve, within the paradigm of digital humanities research, into the direction of digital archiving of medical texts to explore the potential,multi‐faceted uses of their digitized images to facilitate the sharing of cultural resources.

1.The Production, Reading, and Circulation of Medical Texts

This theme takes as its point of departure the social life history of books to address the various stages of the lifecycle of medical texts, from writing and printing to reading,collection, and circulation. Topics involved include the printing and collating of medical texts, bibliographical studies of different editions of medical texts, catalog research and verification, the interpretation of medical texts, and the translation of medical books, as well as the medical texts assembled by Yang Shoujing (1839‐1915) for his Guanhaitang Library, and the marketplaces for medical texts and their geographical distribution. Such discussions shall, it is believed, provide further analysis of the demand for medical texts by different social strata as well as the circulation and social influences of various medical texts.

2. Medical Knowledge and Medical Writing

For most part of Chinese history, medical knowledge was held exclusively by emperors and scholar‐officials. However, with the spread of printing in the early modern period, a wide range of medical knowledge gradually became available to ordinary people. This theme centers on a discussion of the emergence of medical theories and concepts among different social groups, the transmission and circulation of medical knowledge, and its transformation during dissemination. It also takes in the dialectic debates among different schools of medical theories. While medical knowledge can be acquired through writing, the expertise may also be attained through grasping and comprehending images as well as reading. Therefore, this theme will also cover descriptive narratives of medicine and illness, discussions of the physical body,as well as descriptions of the sexes and childbirth in medical books, the documentation of medical cases, the written languages used, and images in medical texts.

3. The Interaction, Clash, and Integration of Chinese and Foreign Medical Texts and Medical Knowledge

Chinese thinking on medicine and the body differs considerably from that of many other parts of the world, and the differences have been an area of interest for medical historians. With the rise in prominence of global historical perspectives, issues relating to the exchange of medical knowledge between China and the rest of the world are also gaining greater attention, particularly the circulation and influences of foreign medical texts and knowledge in China, medicine brought by Jesuits and other missionaries, and the spread of Chinese medical texts and knowledge beyond the Middle Kingdom and their influences on the medical cultures of non‐Chinese peoples. At the same time, the Chinese people’s attitude towards foreign medicine, the translation of medical texts into different languages, and hermeneutic research on such works are also becoming important directions for research into the history of medical exchange between China and other parts of the world. By engaging in discussions of the above topics, a new understanding may be achieved of the significance of medical exchange between China and the rest of the world through the analysis of the interaction, clash, and integration of Chinese and foreign medical texts and medical knowledge.

4. The Manipulation and Application of Medical Knowledge

Medical case reports are clinical accounts taken by doctors engaging in the diagnosis of syndromes, the execution of treatments, and the administration of prescriptions; they are documented records of the practical application of medical knowledge. These reports may reveal doctor‐patient interaction as well as the clashes and exchanges between traditional medicine and other therapeutic practices (e.g., religious healing). Medical knowledge may, aside from being used for treating patients, more often than not turn into a powerful political bargaining chip or be utilized by people with bad intentions as instruments of criminal acts. With the advancement and innovative development in science and technology in recent years, the digitization of medical texts is flourishing and still rapidly growing in magnitude. The electronic images produced have been used in disease research and treatment, and become essential reference materials. The purpose of this theme is to examine, through the analysis of existing medical case reports, the complementary and contradictory roles of traditional and non‐orthodox medical knowledge in actual practice, and to address the misappropriation of medical knowledge in criminal deeds as well as the state’s use and control of medicine. Further, by enlisting the attending scholars’ perspectives and suggestions on the digital archiving of medical texts, we hope to explore new approaches to making digitally available extant medical texts, so that those working in academia, cultural circles, and creative industries, as well as the general public, may attain a clearer understanding of medical books. The ultimate goal is to increase public participation, support and augment research by sharing cultural resources, and ensure that the resources are available to all.