I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on both Asian history and the history of medicine. They include general survey courses on Asian history as well as more specific topics of medicine, food, and the body. I am keen in introducing comparative perspectives into my teaching to broaden students’ horizons, and trying creative assignments (creative projects and multimedia productions, for example) to enrich their learning experience.


Asian Civilizations I (Origins to 1600): Connections and Movements

Source: Silk Roads: Dialogue, Diversity & Development (UNESCO)

This course surveys the history of Asia from ancient times to 1600, covering the regions of East Asia (China, Japan, Korea), South Asia (mainly India), and to a lesser degree, Southeast and Central Asia. It aims to provide students with the general knowledge of the civilizations emerged from these regions, exploring their political culture, characteristics of the society, religious practices, as well as the features of science, technology, and medicine. In particular, the course focuses on the interconnections and sometimes fragmentation of these regions and their ties to the rest of the world throughout history, as mediated by the movement of ideas, texts, people, and things.

History of Chinese Medicine

Source: Moxibustion, attributed to Li Tang (ca. 1050–after 1130), Wikimedia Commons

This course surveys Chinese medical history from antiquity to the present. It starts with a look at Chinese medicine in the contemporary world, exploring its unique features, diverse practices, and debated efficacy. It then goes back to history, studying the foundational ideas in Chinese medicine and their evolution over time. Particular attention will be directed to the perception of illness, the body, and medicinal substances. Furthermore, it explores the diverse and miscellaneous practices of Chinese medicine in society through the lens of religious healing, state regulation, medical practitioners, gender and sexuality, and its interplay with the world. Finally, it examines in the more recent past how Chinese medicine interacted with Western medicine and how it reinvented itself during this contested process. Overall, this course seeks to not only enrich our understanding of Chinese medicine in the past, but also utilize historical knowledge to illuminate our ways of living today.

Food in Asia

Source: An Elegant Party, attributed to Emperor Huizong of Song (1082–1135), Wikimedia Commons

This course probes the history of food in Asia, exploring both the rich culture of food within Asia and its fast spread to the rest of the world in recent past. Topics covered include the techniques of cooking, the religious meanings of food, regional features, food trade, food and colonialism, food and national identity, and Asian food in America. In the end, the course seeks to use the study of dishes and drinks in Asia as a gateway to not just understand the fabric of Asian history and society but also illuminate our dietary habits and ways of living here and now.

Poisons, Drugs, and Panaceas

Source: From a 16th-century Chinese pharmacopeia (Library of Congress)          

By examining the history of poisons through twelve case studies, this seminar explores the complexity of drug materiality by contemplating the intimate relations between poisons, medicines, and panaceas. Using specific poisons as the anchor of analysis, the course investigates the social fabric and cultural milieu in which particular ideas and practices of poisons emerged, flourished, or diminished. One key aspect of the course is to introduce a comparative perspective to the study of medical history. By studying above topics in both European/American and Asian contexts, the course seeks to identify surprising parallels, striking differences, and hidden connections between these traditions.


History of the Body

This seminar seeks to explore the rich cultural history of the body by reading monographs in the fields of history, anthropology, and literature, which encompass both theoretical analyses and empirical studies of the body in varied contexts. The course focuses on, but not limited to the history of medicine, and scrutinizes issues of sick bodies, dissected bodies, gendered bodies, racial bodies, disabled bodies, among others. In addition, the course discusses extensively the history of the body beyond the Western world, and explores how the body is differently understood and practiced in Asia and in Africa.

Asian Core: The Local and the Global

This course offers an introduction to recent approaches in the study of Asian history. Covering East, South, and Southeast Asia and focusing on the changeful and tumultuous age from the early modern period to the present, the course selects monographs from disparate disciplines (history, anthropology, literature, political science) and explores a wide range of topics including science, technology, and medicine, politics, colonialism, urban/rural culture, modernity, gender, and global history. By interrogating the conceptual and historical meanings of Asia, the seminar seeks to probe the unique local features of Asian cultures and societies on the one hand, and their intimate, and often unexpected connections to the rest of the world, on the other. The ultimate goal of this course, therefore, is not just to deepen the historical and historiographical understanding of Asia, but also to bring a heightened awareness of Asian studies, at both theoretical and empirical levels, that would benefit each student’s own research regardless of its regional focus.

Note: The syllabi for the above courses are available at my academic.edu site.

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