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Topical Readings in Pre-modern Chinese


Admission requirements

No admission requirements


This course aims to provide students with the basic skills to search for classical sources and materials related to Chinese painting. During the course a number of different text genres and formats and their patterns will be discussed to enable effective reading. Each text will focus on a different theme, giving the student an overview of both the traditional issues and motifs of Chinese painting and the necessary knowledge to comprehend the texts. The text will be translated and commented by students and later read together in class. The student will be familiarized with the following types of texts:

  • Painter’s biography

  • Description of a painting in a catalogue

  • Painting inscriptions

  • Practical recipes (from an encyclopedia)

  • Lists of principles

  • ‘Historical’ account on the origin of painting

  • Preface to a painting treatise

  • Discussion on style (strokes and textures)

  • Anecdotes about painters and paintings

  • Rhymed mnemonic formulas for painting

  • Q&A between student and master

Course objectives

  • Familiarize students with different texts and genres used in art historical research;

  • Develop research skills in classical Chinese;

  • Improve students’ ability to interpret classical texts;


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total 280 hours (10 EC x 28 hours)

  • Seminar 2 ×13 hours: 26 hours (6 extra hours for students of the Research MA)

  • Compulsory readings: 86 hours

  • Class Assignments: 62 hours

  • Term paper: 100 hours

Assessment method

The final mark for the course is established by the weighted average of:

  • Take-home exercises and participation in class: 40%

  • Final annotated translation: 60%

Students must obtain a mark of 6 or higher to pass this course.

Exam Review

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


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Syllabus

  • Selected course readings

  • Submitting assignments

Reading list

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


M. Klasing Chen MA