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Traditions and Innovations: Art in Late Imperial and Early Modern China



Familiarity with Chinese art (via courses followed in BA2 and BA1), Art history (of any region/period), Chinese history and literature (especially of the 19th- and 20th-centuries) will enhance participation in this course. Students are expected to exert critical thinking, and to plan their individual engagement/production (final paper) with good strategy and originality. Evaluation will be based on class discussion, familiarity with the material and the elaboration of a workable approach in the assessment of artists, trends and specific issues as elements of a larger art historical / sociological / cultural context for the writing of a final paper.


This course uses common antithetical pairs, such as traditional/modern, local/global, in order to consider a number of historical, cultural and social shifts in China towards variably hybrid categories of art’s content, form, mediation and circulation. The guiding aim of the course is to consider—to accept or to repudiate—China’s early modern and recent participation in (rather than beside) global forces of hybridity, itself a major diagnostic tool for understanding the ascent of modernity.

Study aims

The aim of the course is to familiarize students with the main cultural issues that emerged in the development of the visual and artistic production of China in the last two centuries. Students will learn to interpret the leading media and techniques of art during this period by applying their acquired knowledge of materials, technologies and insights from art history, visual studies and sociology.


Classes will introduce works and styles with the aid of slides/Blackboard. Students are expected to play an active role in presenting their views and to engage in critical discussion. 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. Each week’s assignment will demand a minimum input of three to four hours, including preparatory reading and familiarization with visual material.


See Timetable on the website of Chinastudies for time and location.

Teaching method


Course Load

  • total course load: 140h (5 EC x 28 hours)

  • attendance and participation in seminars: 28h

  • completion of readings: 30h

  • preparation of presentation and writing essay: 82h


  • Classwork (presentation, assignments): 30%

  • Final Essay (deadline mid-December) 70%

The final grade consists of the weighted average of both course components. A resit for the final essay is allowed if a student scores a non-passing grade (5,49 or lower) on the first attempt.


Yes, Blackboard

Reading materials

  • Readings will be available on a reserve shelf in the East-Asian Library


Registration through uSis. Not registered, means no permission to follow this course. See also Registrationprocedures for courses and exams for registrationdeadlines and more information on (un)registering for courses.