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Chinese Art History

Vak 2012-2013


To expose students to a number of approaches for doing art history with art produced in China. Approaches are stressed in a broad sense in preference to direct reference to –isms (e.g. antiquarianism, feminism, Marxism). A good deal of overlap will be apparent between different sessions. The combination of stipulated readings and optional readings is a huge quantity. No single individual is expected to read all of it. The full breadth/depth is designed for the course requirements (see below), and during the progress of the course there will be opportunity to divide up tasks and set specific targets.

Aside from discussing readings, each session will introduce a artefacts/artworks with the aid of printed publications, blackboard/internet resources, to illustrate topics at hand and to stimulate discussion. During the course, students are expected to exercise growing competency in accessing/referring to/using visual material. This is an obligatory exercise that will impact on the requirement to complete the essay, and it will feature among the criteria for grading that work.

Readings will be set for preparation between classes. Students are expected to read these set texts in out-of-class hours and to discuss what they have read when the class assembles.

Teaching method

Seminar. Note: English will be used in classwork. Dutch or English (not both) may be used for written work.

Admission requirements

No language requirement

Course objectives

To familiarize students with art in China via:
a). scholarly discourse relevant to the modern discipline of art history;
b). scholarly discourse relevant to particular conditions of art and historical discourse pertaining to art in China;
c). methods most useful for sociological and aesthetic enquiry into art in China

In order to contextualize the aims of b) and c) within the state of the discipline (a), the course will demand an amount of reading about/considering other regional engagements with art/art history (e.g. Africa, Europe, etc). The usefulness of this comparative design will become clearer as the course progresses, but it is controlled to ensure that China remains the primary focus of the entire course.

Required reading

A programme (keyed to a course reader) lists the core texts selected for this course. In addition, four volumes that students will find useful are:
• Craig Clunas, Art in China (Oxford, 1997)
• Lothar Ledderose, Ten Thousand Things: Module and Mass Production in Chinese Art (Princeton, NJ, 2000)
• Patricia B Ebrey, Cambridge Illustrated History of China (London, 1996) [S.I. shelf no: L 6 B5]
• Robert Thorp and Richard Vinograd, Chinese Art and Culture, New York, 2001

Test method

a). Reading the set readings. Optional readings are what the description suggests, and also provided as extra resources for completing an essay (see below).
b). Essay (5000 words): this is the major course requirement to pass this course. Students must choose a topic relevant to the content/aims of the course by/before week 7. Delivery of this essay will be expected by/before 31 May (subject to further discussion). Extra guidelines will be provided during the progress of the course.
c). maximally two short written assignments, e.g. reviews and critical summaries.
• Classwork: 40%
• Written work 60%
Guidelines for preparation of written work and class assignments and the criteria for marking will be duly provided.

Time table

First semester, two hours per week. See timetable


Enroll on time for this course via uSis. Questions about enrollment via uSis? Please contact student administration or the secretariat


For enrollment, visit the website Blackboard.