Professor Carla Nappi of the UBC Department of History delivers an STS colloquium talk titled “Sample and Mix: The Body Sonic in Qing Science and Medicine” on Thursday, November 14, 5:00-6:30 pm in Buchanan Tower 1197.
A careful attention to the sonic elements of language and their relationship to bodily knowledge was deeply significant for composers and readers of Manchu texts. This was true in the case of work that can be loosely described as “medical”: recipe collections, anatomical treatises, and tracts on illness and disease tended to share a poetics that related the musicality of the text to the experience of the human body. It was also true for other texts that are equally (if not as obviously) crucial for understanding the way Qing readers described and categorized nature: dictionaries, glossaries, and marginal notes thereupon. This talk will introduce the sonic aspect of the sensorium of Qing bodies in Manchu-language texts from the 18th century, focusing on the contexts of medicine and natural history. It will explore some of the ways that the sonic body shaped Manchu scientific and medical knowledge in translation, and will finally use this case study to suggest that foregrounding the sonic elements of the historical sensorium can help us consider the crafts of sonic and historical narrative production from within a common epistemic frame.