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"Brain Electricity:" Encountering Hypnotism in Early Twentieth-Century China

April 25, 2012 - 12:00pm
Okimoto Conference Room, Encina Hall East, 3rd Floor

CEAS China Brown Bag

Tie Xiao Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Indiana University

While now it is often written off as a “pseudo”-scientific hoax, the widespread engagement with hypnotism (cuimian shu) in early twentieth-century China was integral to what was most self-consciously “modern.” Its early practitioners claimed to hold the miraculous cure for the spiritual and bodily ailments of the nation and positioned themselves as part of an enlightened vanguard. The diffusion of the imported psychological knowledge of somnambulism and thought-transference was intrinsically bound up with the contemporary preoccupation with new dimensions of subjectivity and interiority as well as the politics of awakening. This study traces the variegated pathways along which the transposed knowledge of hypnotism acquired meaning in modern China.

Free and open to the public.

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Center for East Asian Studies
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