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Tradition and Innovation: Copying, Antiquarianism and Forgery in Chinese Art



No requirements, no restrictions.

  • Familiarity with Chinese art and Chinese cultural history is desirable.

  • Students should be proficient in English: all assignments and the final paper must be written in English.


What is the difference between copying, appropriating and forging? What gets copied and why? Painters and art connoisseurs in China valued practices of copying, but how was forgery perceived?
This course looks at reproduction practices in Chinese art history. We will discuss different views on the issue of reproduction and the cultural values attached to them. How do these views relate to notions of authorship, individuality and expertise?
Through the exploration of selected objects and texts we will discuss re-production and production and ask what the innovative potential of the copy may be. The course readings span classical sources from the 5th century to Qing dynasty “connoisseur” texts, in translation, as well as secondary sources that present different approaches to the issue of copying. A variety of objects, such as bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy and seals will be discussed in relation to copying practices. The course will also include one practical painting session.

NOTE: BA Thesis supervision for this course is possible, but only for a limited number of students.

Course objectives

  • Familiarize students with different approaches to copies and reproductions in Chinese art history;

  • Critical engagement with the notion of forgery;

  • Improve students’ ability to interpret texts;

  • Develop students’ ability to construct a solid argument in writing.


Thursdays, 11:00-13:00
September 15 – December 8 (12 Sessions: Weeks 37-42,44-49)
Classes take place at van Wijkplaats 4, room 001.

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

Mode of instruction


Course Load

EC: 5 × 28 = 140 hours
Lectures (12 × 2): 24 hours (Lectures (13 × 2): 26 hours )
Compulsory literature: 25 hours
Response papers/assignments and preparation for class: 37 hours (35 hours)
Discussion of final paper with teacher before the presentation: 1 hour
Final paper research and writing: 50 hours
Preparation for presentation of final paper in class: 3 hours

Assessment method

  • Assignments (select 7 out of 10): 40%

  • Final paper (max. 10 pages): 50%

  • Oral presentation: 10%

The final mark for the course is established by the weighted average.
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 will be used for:

  • Syllabus

  • Selected course readings

  • Selected visual material

  • Submitting assignments

Reading materials

The reading material will be made available through Blackboard and a reserve shelf.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Monica Klasing Chen


BA Thesis supervision for this course is possible, but only for a limited number of students. Get in touch with the teacher for further information.