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Urban Space, Visual Art, and Cultural Practices in Premodern China


Admission requirements



The cultural history of medieval and late imperial China (600-1900) is marked by the rise of some of the world’s most important cities. However, except for a few well-known and densely populated metropolises, many other vibrant urban centers and their diverse networks were largely understudied. In this class, we treat cities of various sizes as volatile urban space where changing economic, political, and social conditions constantly shaped the lived environment, consumption tastes, religious and cultural practices, and visual experiences of city dwellers. In light of theories in urbanization and visual culture, this course focuses on the following aspects of premodern Chinese urban life: city planning, urban identities, networks, memories, gender, marketplaces, gardens, and religions.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to (1) identify key themes and positions in Chinese urban culture; (2) understand basic concepts and theories in urban culture; (3) develop students ability to critically engage primary and second sources; (4) apply sensible approaches to analyze topics of interest and formulate clear and coherent arguments.


See timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

5 EC * 28 hours = 140 hours

Weekly seminars: 2 x14=28 hours total
Class work (participation, assignments, and quizzes): 12 × 5 hours (60 hours total)
Research paper: 52 hours

Assessment method

  • Class work (Class participation and response, quizzes) 20%

  • Presentations 10 %

  • Short essay 20%

  • Research essay 50%

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard ( is used in the course.
Students must self-enroll on Blackboard, which is used for posting syllabus, class communications, and essay submission.

Reading list

See blackboard.


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


Dr. Fan Lin