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World Art: Art in China




Admission Requirements



This course will explore different ways of thinking about art in China. It will also introduce students to key concepts and approaches in the field of art history.

Art in China has many histories. Art objects can be connected to different types of artists and viewers, and to a variety of ideas and traditions. Based on an overview and discussion of some of the most important examples of art in China, such as jade, painting, and religious art, lectures and seminars will examine issues of art as object of worship, collection and exchange.

Course Objectives

  • To investigate different ways of thinking in art history, particularly when applied to China

  • To develop the ability to respond critically to artworks and to literature on art

Mode of Instruction

Tuesday meetings will serve to introduce the weekly topic through interactive lectures. To enable creative and informed classroom discussions, students will be required to submit a guided reflection (300-500 words) on the weekly topic, based on assigned readings and due prior to the lecture.
Friday meetings will start with students’ joint presentation (20 minutes, one group per week) of a case study connected to the weekly topic, again based on assigned readings. These presentations will stimulate group discussions, and will develop students’ abilities to contextualize artworks, and to apply and articulate concepts covered in the course.

Students are expected to actively engage with course materials, and offer their own views and questions.


Assessment: Participation in discussions and attentiveness during class meetings
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing weeks 1-7

Assessment: Six web-postings (300-500 words)
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Weeks 2-7 (due by 23:59 on Mondays)

Assessment: 20-minute group presentations
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Weeks 2-7 (to be designated in Week 1)

Assessment: Final take-home examination: two essays (total word count: 1500-2000)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8 (exam script published at 09:00 on Tuesday, October 8, with essays due
by 10:00 on Tuesday, October 15, all via Blackboard)


Assigned readings will be made available on Blackboard.
Students who have not previously taken courses in Chinese art may find the following volumes helpful:

Clunas, Craig. 2009: Art in China. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Rawson, Jessica, ed. 2007: The British Museum Book of Chinese Art. London: British Museum Press.

Contact Information

Weekly Overview

Week 1: What is Chinese art history?
Week 2: Archaeology, history, and engaging with art in China
Week 3: Ritual, origins and the power of images: art and burial
Week 4: Religious art and worship
Week 5: Taste, style, and connoisseurship
Week 6: Art collection and exchange
Week 7: Chinese art, modernity and the “glocal” space
Week 8: Reading Week

Preparation for first session