This Tuesday night, we had our last session of the Origins lecture theories – a poster presentation of the research projects that my Origins seminar has been working on for the whole semester. We also had students from the creative artist book class to present their works. It was a celebration of the intellectual growths that we gained from past lectures and a showcase of our own work on the theme of Origins.
For the poster session, I focused my study on the origins of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, instead of tracing back the history to 18th century B.C., I looked at the development of TCM from mid-late 19th century to late 20th century. Specifically, I used acupuncture as a case study to elaborate on my idea. I first divided this time period into 8 steps: set the stage for changes, abolishment of TCM, medical revolution, cooperation between TCM and western medicine (WM), TCM learning WM, WM learning TCM, integration of TCM and WM, and finally TCM being introduced to the world. I further summarized these steps into three time-stage: from 1860 to 1944: abolishment and revolution, from 1945 to 1960: institutionalization and scientization, and from 1970 to 1990: globalization. While in the first time stage, TCM faced the impact of WM as an entity, acupuncture became a typical example of TCM in standardization and acted as a representative of TCM in its introduction to the world. I concluded that the changes of TCM from 1860 to 1990 were a collective effort of individual motivation, cultural awareness, public interpretation, and political consequences. Such changes eventually led to a new origin of TCM in the contemporary China.
I was very interested in Ronnie’s project, which traced different mythologies about the origins of the universe around the world. She used a creative way of expression that she drew all mythology stories using different colors and shapes on a piece of paper. When I first looked at her poster, I recognized the Big Bang theory and the Chinese mythology of Pangu (盘古) separating the heaven from the earth. The first one has been taught in different classes that I had and we had two different lectures focusing on such a topic this semester. The second one I also wrote about before in my previous web-post. It was the story of my culture and a story that I grew up with. Ronnie used red colors to represent Yang (阳) and the heaven and blue colors to Yin (阴) and the earth, which was very accurate according to the description of my culture. There was one other picture that caught my eyes because it was the only one that in a white background. Ronnie explained that all other mythologies believed the universe was created out of chaos while this one stated it came out of nothing. Therefore, she used black to represent the chaos stage and used white to reflect the clear stage. Also, this mythology believed that the common two stages of the world was suddenly cut and separated by something. She therefore considered a white background with a black separation was more visually strong than the opposite. I think this integration of art and origins was very interesting to me.