Carolyn Wargula is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Bucknell University specializing in Japanese Buddhist art. At Yale, she will write her forthcoming book project, Embodied Embroideries: Gender, Agency, and the Body in Japanese Buddhism, which examines the mortuary practice of hair embroidery from the late twelfth- to the seventeenth centuries. She considers how this medium appealed particularly to women as a means to achieve enlightenment and to circumnavigate doctrinal teachings concerning the impurities of the female body.
Carolyn was born in Japan and grew up in Okinawa and Sendai before moving to the United States at the age of sixteen. She received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2020 and conducted archival research at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies as a Japan Foundation Fellow. Prior to Yale, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College.
EAST 411, HSAR 415, WGSS 412
Women and Art in Premodern East Asia
For over a thousand years, women in East Asia profoundly influenced the development of the visual arts, yet their formidable presence remains largely hidden. This seminar explores the critical roles women played as patrons, artists, and collectors of the arts in China, Korea, and Japan. We cover periods from the sixth through the nineteenth centuries and discuss a wide array of mediums including bamboo paintings, bijinga woodblock prints, bronze Buddhist sculptures, bojagi textiles, and even embroidered lotus shoes. This seminar focuses particularly on art objects made by anonymous women as a means to rethink and problematize the traditionally elite and male-dominated art historical canon. We also contextualize artistic production in light of emergent theorizations and readings on femininity, feminism, and the sexual politics of representation. Major themes of inquiry include subjectivity and intentionality; representations of women and the male gaze; and postcolonial definitions of female agency.