Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - To Be Informative and Accessible: Presenting Drug Knowledge in Song China (960-1279)

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Virginia Suite B, Lobby Level

The higher availability and ever-growing body of medical literature in the Song dynasty (960-1279) expanded the readership of healing texts, but also increased readers’ difficulty in finding out medical knowledge that suited their need. The perception of information overload and complaints about the ensuing difficulty appear in a number of Song medical texts as a justification for their authors’ re-organization of drug knowledge (namely, knowledge about drug therapies and pharmacology). In this paper, I first examine key conditions that strengthened this Song authors’ perception of overload. The perception, I argue, resulted not only from the objective increase of medical texts but also from wider criteria for which formulas that were considered worth recording and from broader reading interests in multifarious medical subjects. Then I turn to investigate textual forms in which Song authors presented drug knowledge for enhancing the ease of consultancy. I argue that although the basic modes of organising the drug knowledge were already established during the Six-Dynasties (222-589) and Tang dynasty (618-907), Song authors made their own twist of the modes, such as proposing new sub-categories of classifying medical formulas. By examining the perception of overload and new textual forms of presenting drug knowledge, in the paper, I wish to shed a new light on roles of the flood of texts in new ways of knowledge management in middle period China.

Yun-Ju Chen

Academia Sinica

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1 - To Be Informative and Accessible: Presenting Drug Knowledge in Song China (960-1279)



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