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Religious Themes in Asian Art (ResMA)

Vak 2017-2018

Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.

Description & Goals

The first part of this course focuses on religious narratives in Asian art. Religious stories in Asia are, as elsewhere, continuously retold, reworked, and adapted to new contexts, not only by way of words, but also by way of the visual medium. Stories, such as the Ramayana, a famous Indian epic that spread to Southeast Asia and beyond, and the Jatakas, pan-Asian stories about the previous lives of the Buddha, have various textual versions, but also as many visual versions, dating from ancient times to the present. Starting from Gombrich’s ‘theory of decorum’ we discuss the great flexibility of the visual medium in adapting such religious narratives to new contexts (domestic, religious, political) and the ways in which their meanings were manipulated in the course of this process. In class we examine a number of case studies (Jatakas, Buddha's Life Story and/or Ramayana) within various different Southeast Asian contexts, but your paper may focus on other religious stories in other Asian contexts.
The second part of the series focuses on the importance of symbols and symbolic visual vocabulary in giving meaning to the religious art of Asia. The literature discussed studies symbols as signifiers of beliefs and concepts in the iconography of Asia (with case studies mostly taken from South Asia and Tibet).We will come across the use of symbols and symbol groups as surprisingly long-lived bearers of auspiciousness. And as smart and surprisingly persistent means to express how the divine and the human interact and connect. We also explore how cosmological visions of the universe get expressed in monumental art, manuscript illustrations and Tibetan scroll paintings. The symbolism of multiplicity (the representation of divine powers through multiplication of e.g. body parts), which is such a strong signifier in Asian sacred language, is another topic on our list. And finally we examine how Asian arts developed new visual vocabularies for expressing and representing divine power. Case studies are taken from various religious contexts offered by Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the religious art and material culture of South and Southeast Asia.
  • Insight in the function of religous art in its art historical and cultural context.
  • Insight in the art historical discipline as applied to Asian art.
  • Insight into some of the problems and debates in the study of Asian art
  • Academic skills to describe and analyse religious themes in Asian art and interpret them in their art historical context

Timetable

The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar combined with individual research of source materials

Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course..

Course load

10 EC = 280 hours

Block 1:
Meetings: 2 × 6 h = 12 hours
Weekly written reports of readings: 5 × 7 h = 35 hours
Paper: 80 hours

Block 2:
Meetings: 2 × 6 h = 12 hours
Weekly written reports of readings: 5 × 7 h = 35 hours
Paper: 80 hours

Extra tutorial meetings for ResMA students: 6 hours
Preparation for extra meetings: 20 hours

Assessment

Assessment

10 ec version: 10 written reports of readings during the course (block 1 and 2); 2 papers (3000-4000 words each), one at the end of each block.

Weighing

10 ec version: 10 written reports of readings (40%) during the course (block 1 and 2); 2 papers (3000-4000 words each), one at the end of each block (60%).

Resit

The paper(s) is/are written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline(s) for the first version(s) will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version(s).

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Exam review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.

Reading List

Reading materials will be made available in Blackboard, if possible.
Readings for the first meeting to be announced in Blackboard.

For the Research MA students additional reading will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.

Registration

Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration à la carte or contractonderwijs

A la carte nor contractonderwijs is possible for this course.

Contact

Prof.dr. M.J. Klokke
Dr. E.M. Raven

Remarks

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).