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This course introduces students to Buddhist art and architecture in Japan from its introduction in the sixth century through the present. We focus on the ways different communities–the imperial court, immigrant artists, monks, women, and commoners–employed and venerated Buddhist images for political legitimacy, personal salvation, and worldly benefit. This course also examines how Japanese Buddhist imagery became aestheticized in the early twentieth century and appropriated later in modern and contemporary visual cultures. Some of the topics to be discussed include the reception of continental styles of Buddhist bronze sculpture, the relationship between mandalas and rituals, the role of women in developing Buddhist embroideries, and the Western reappraisal of Zen arts. Students will develop familiarity with the concepts and ideas underlying the production of Buddhist images and will gain foundational skills in analyzing the visual, material, and iconographic qualities of Japanese Buddhist art. For the final project, students will design a digital exhibition focused around one of the topics of the course.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Class participation, 4 reading and object response papers (2-3 pages), and digital exhibition project (8-10-page proposal written in stages over the semester including a 10-minute presentation)
First- and second-year students, but open to all
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: