Marta Hanson studied the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, obtaining her PhD in 1997 with a dissertation focused on a new discourse on epidemics in seventeenth- to nineteenth-century China separate from western medicine. She first taught late imperial Chinese history at the University of California, San Diego (1997–2004) and then taught the history of medicine and public health in East Asia in the Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University (2004–2021). Her first monograph, Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine: Disease and the Geographic Imagination in Late Imperial China (Routledge, 2011), used the “biography of disease” heuristic device to write the history of the Chinese disease concept “Warm diseases” (wenbing 溫病)—i.e., febrile diseases from the common cold to pneumonia—from its original conception in the first century BC to transformations up through the SARS epidemic (2002–3).

Her current research project brings together the history of the body, divination, and prognostication in Chinese medical history with the extended-mind hypothesis in cognitive science. To this end, she is revising a book manuscript titled Grasping Heaven and Earth: The Healer’s Body-as-Technology in Classical Chinese Medicine (forthcoming) that demonstrates how Chinese healers deployed their hands to think with as well as their bodies to heal. At the MPIWG, Marta will be working with colleagues to form a new working group in Department III related to Chinese medicine’s rich archive. Marta also likes to go urban foraging and has written about her harvests for the Baltimore Brew.

Projects

Grasping Heaven and Earth: The Healer’s Body-as-Technology in Chinese Medicine

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Selected Publications

Hanson, Marta Eileen, and Lauren Small (2022). “Pandemic Patterns: How Artistic Depictions of Past Epidemics Illuminate Thematic and Structural Responses to COVID-19 Today.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 37: 878–884. https://doi.org/10.1007…

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Hanson, Marta Eileen (2022). “Epistemic Genres as a Method in the History of Chinese Medicine.” Chinese Medicine and Culture 5 (1): 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1097/MC9.0000000000000010.

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Hanson, Marta Eileen (2022). “Review of: Wang, Xing: Physiognomy in Ming China: Fortune and the Body. Leiden: Brill 2020.” T’oung Pao 108 (1–2). 108 (1–2): 281–287. https://doi.org/10.1163/15685322-10801005.

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Hanson, Marta Eileen (2020). “From under the Elbow to Pointing to the Palm: Chinese Metaphors for Learning Medicine by the Book (Fourth–Fourteenth Centuries).” The British Journal for the History of Science: Themes 5 (December): 75–92. https://doi…

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Past Events

Colloquium

Ritual Healing through Sealing (7th -12th-century China): Materiality and the Healer’s Body in the Earliest Examples of Medical “Palm Formulas” (zhangjue 掌訣)

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