Arts of China (Fine Arts 47/ ALAC 43)
An introduction to the history of Chinese Art from its beginnings in neolithic times until the start of the eighteenth century. Topics will include the ritual bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese transformation of the Buddha image, imperial patronage of painting during the Song dynasty and the development of the literati tradition of painting and calligraphy. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding the cultural context of Chinese art.
Arts of Japan (Fine Arts 48/ALAC 23)
A survey of the history of Japanese art from neolithic times to the present. Topics will include Buddhist art and its ritual context, the aristocratic arts of the Heian court, monochromatic ink painting and the arts related to the Zen sect, the prints and paintings of the Floating World and contemporary artists and designers such as Ando Tadao and Miyake Issey. The class will focus on the ways Japan adopts and adapts foreign cultural traditions.
Approaches to Chinese Painting (Fine Arts 61/ALAC 44)
A survey of the Chinese pictorial tradition from the Han to the Qing dynasties, focusing in particular on the development of the landscape idiom, but considering bird and flower painting and the narrative tradition as well. The course will explore the difference between Western methodological approaches to Chinese painting and the theories of painting developed by the Chinese themselves.
From Edo to Tokyo: Later Japanese Art (Fine Arts 65)
A survey of Japanese art from the sixteenth century to the present. The course will focus on the relationships between artists and their patrons and the rapid changes in taste during the period. Topics to be covered will include the development of the tea ceremony in the sixteenth century, the "classical revival" of the seventeenth century the development of urban bourgeois culture during the eighteenth century, the conflicts brought on by the opening of Japan to the West in the nineteenth century and the impact of Japanese designers on architecture and fashion in the late twentieth century. There will be field trips to look at works in museums and in private collections in the region.
Sacred Images and Sacred Space: The Visual Culture of Religion in Japan (Fine Arts 66/ALAC 61)
An interdisciplinary study of the visual culture of the Buddhist and Shinto religious traditions in Japan. The class will examine in depth a number of Japan’s most important sacred places including Ise Shrine, Tōdaiji, Daitokuji, and Mount Fuji, and will also look at the way contemporary architects such as Ando Tadao and Takamatsu Shin have attempted to created new sacred places in japan today. Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways by which the Japanese have given distinctive form to their religious beliefs through architecture, painting and sculpture, and the ways these objects have been used in religious rituals.
Museums and Society (Fine Arts 80)
This course considers who art museums reveal the social and cultural ideologies of those who build, pay for work in and visit them. We will study the ways in which art history is (and has been) constructed by acquisitions, exhibitions, and installation and the ways in which museums are constructed by art history by looking at the world-wide boom in museum architecture, and by examining curatorial practice and exhibition strategies as the affect American and Asian art in particular. We will analyze the relationship between the cultural contexts of viewer and object, the nature of the translation of languages and aesthetic discourse, and the diverse ways in which are is understood as the materialization of modes of experience and communications.
First Year Seminar 4: From Samurai to Sony
Soon after the opening of Japan to the West in the mid–nineteenth century, "things Japanese" became objects of fascination among artists, collectors, and even the general public in Europe and the United States. The impact of a Japanese aesthetic was immediately seen in painting, architecture and the decorative arts. To this day Japan continues to influence the arts and design in the West. However, Japanese conceptions of what makes their culture unique and images of Japan familiar in the West often have little in common. How to define the Japanese aesthetic has long troubled scholars in Japan and abroad. Is there a Japanese aesthetic? If so, how can it be defined? Through a series of case studies we will attempt to answer these questions. The seminar will examine a number of cultural henomena considered to be definitive expressions of the Japanese aesthetic such as samurai, geisha, the tea ceremony, and Zen. Examples from Japanese film, literature, art, fashion, and commercial design will also be used to facilitate our exploration of Japanese art and culture. Co–taught with Professor Patrick Caddeau.
Seminar: Asian Art, Western Eyes
The course will address the problem of how one sees and understands the art of cultures other than one’s own. It will analyze the relationship between the cultural contexts of viewer and object, the nature of the translation of languages or aesthetic discourse, and the diverse ways in which art is understood as the materialization of modes of experience and communication.
Through text, exhibition and discussion, the seminar will pursue a detailed study of works of art of a variety of cultures in Asia. The course will investigate the various systems of symbolic forms that have shaped and found expression in art and analyze the complex structural interrelationships between aesthetic (form) and extra–aesthetic (meaning) levels in cultural communication in these societies. In particular, the course will be concerned with assessing the manner in which our own cultural perceptions and scholarly disciplines inform and limit understanding of the art of Asia both today and in the past.
Seminar: From Edo to Tokyo—Ukiyo to Urban Chic
An exploration of the city which was founded in the late sixteenth century as a provincial military headquarters but which was transfigured rapidly into the dominant urban center of Japan, a role which it still plays today. The class will examine the ways traditional culture was transplanted and transformed in the millieu of the new city that was dominated by constant competition between the military and merchants and the creation of new artistic forms that were a response to the distinctive urban environment there. Areas of discussion will include the prints and paintings depicting the kabuki theater and the pleasure quarters; the modernization of the city as a Western-style capital during the second half of the nineteenth century; and the definition by the city of a contemporary Japanese aesthetic since the 1950s. The class will make extensive use of the William Green Collection of wood block prints at the Mead Art Museum.
Seminar: Images and Icons
An examination of the role of icons in various religious traditions. The primary focus will be on the ways icons are constructed and used in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, with comparisons made to their role in Christianity and the religions of Africa. Some of the topics to be covered will include the relationship between icons and deities, the ways in which icons are authenticated and animated, connections between icons and power, the place of icons in ritual and aniconism and iconoclasm.
Seminar: Object As Insight; Japanese Buddhist Art and Ritual
From the time of their first encounter with Buddhism in the sixth century, the Japanese were frequently more fascinated with the visual splendor of the material adornments that accompanied the Indian religion tahn with philosophical speculations on its central doctrines. Indeed, the efficacy of the most inportant rituals held at temples in Japan was most frequently tied to aesthetic experience involving all the senses. This seminar will examine the nature of Japanese Buddhist ritual and the essential role played by the material adornments of the faith—the works of art that were and remain an integral part of Buddhist practice in Japan.