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This course is an introduction to the history of East Asian art from prehistory to the present with particular emphasis on China, Korea, and Japan. Through four thematic units (memorialization, religion, nature, and identity), we look at artworks in their original contexts and consider how cross-cultural exchanges stimulated new interpretations across time and space. We examine a broad range of objects including ritual bronze vessels, Buddhist temples, landscape paintings, woodblock prints, and installations. We also discuss these artworks in relation to other forms of creative expression such as ritual practice, performance, and literature. How is East Asia defined geographically and culturally? How did the exchange in ideas, trade, and travel impact the formation of East Asian art? How do artworks and artifacts help us understand East Asia’s past? These fundamental questions guide our discussion. Through this course, students learn to think critically about shared and diverse human experiences across cultures and historical periods. Students also reflect on historiographical issues surrounding East Asian art and analyze why certain types of artworks were historically underrepresented in museum spaces and academic scholarship. To contribute to public knowledge, students will also develop and edit a Wikipedia page on an artwork or artist of their choice. Visits to the Williams College Museum of Art and Special Collections also form an integral part of the course.
Format: lecture; Some classes may be conducted at WCMA; course content will be delivered asynchronously; interactive activities will take place in synchronous sessions
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Class participation, open-book midterm and final exam, 4 object or reading response papers (2-3 pages in length), key work presentation (5-7 minutes long), Wikipedia page editing project and presentation (5-7 minutes long)
Open to all students regardless of major
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This course fulfills the Difference, Power, and Equity requirement by investigating the ways that migration and cross-cultural exchange shaped artistic developments in East Asia. Students will reflect on the cultural production of diverse peoples and traditions within this geographical region and confront the ways in which historical legacies of imperialism and colonialism continue to shape international relations.
ARTH pre-1800 Courses
GBST East Asian Studies Electives