Session Abstract: This interdisciplinary panel explores a broad range of narratives of sickness, cure, or healing authored by medical practitioners, patients, journalists, pundits, and literary writers in China, Japan, and Korea in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. How did these local agents distinguish physical and mental disorders from good health in response to changing medical practices and institutions? What do their stories tell us about modernity in East Asia, and given that medicine can be a strongly gendered practice, about gender norms as well? Yumi Kim introduces us to an archive about and by middle-class Japanese women seeking psychiatric help in Tokyo in the 1920s and 1930s, pointing to their efforts to explain their conditions in their own words against a diagnosis of hysteria. Yoon Sun Yang identifies heterogeneous forms of medical bodies in the first literary appropriations of the discourse of biomedicine in early-twentieth-century Korea, proposing an alternative approach to gender and sexuality outside the gender binary. Kathryn Tanaka calls attention to some of the writings by women diagnosed with Hansen’s disease and to their unique experiences as female patients in order to revise the male-centered history of Japanese leprosy literature. Xuying Yu traces the ways in which gendered metaphors about diseases and medicine have changed in contemporary Chinese science fiction to show how they attest to the shifting discourses of Chinese modernity.
Paper Presenter: H. Yumi Kim – Johns Hopkins University
Paper Presenter: Yoon Sun Yang – Boston University
Paper Presenter: Kathryn Tanaka – Otemae University
Paper Presenter: Xuying Yu – The Open University of Hong Kong