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Open Access The Menstruating Womb

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The Menstruating Womb

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This paper analyses body and gender in East Asian medicine through a case study of Hŏ Chun’s 許浚 Precious Mirror of Eastern Medicine (Tongŭi pogam 東醫寶鑑, first ed. 1613). While Hŏ Chun’s Chinese sources classified menstrual ailments as a disease of women, Hŏ created a new nosological model that defined menstrual ailments as maladies of the ‘womb’, an internal body part found in men and women alike. I read back and forth between the Precious Mirror and the Chinese sources that Hŏ Chun cites to analyse the textual and intellectual processes by which he constructed his androgynous, menstruating womb. My findings engage with scholarship on the history of East Asian medical exchanges as well as with scholarship on menstruation, sex, and gender in world medicine.

Affiliations: 1: Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan Ann Arbor


This paper analyses body and gender in East Asian medicine through a case study of Hŏ Chun’s 許浚 Precious Mirror of Eastern Medicine (Tongŭi pogam 東醫寶鑑, first ed. 1613). While Hŏ Chun’s Chinese sources classified menstrual ailments as a disease of women, Hŏ created a new nosological model that defined menstrual ailments as maladies of the ‘womb’, an internal body part found in men and women alike. I read back and forth between the Precious Mirror and the Chinese sources that Hŏ Chun cites to analyse the textual and intellectual processes by which he constructed his androgynous, menstruating womb. My findings engage with scholarship on the history of East Asian medical exchanges as well as with scholarship on menstruation, sex, and gender in world medicine.


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