HSAR 449, EAST 449
Nanban Art: Japan's Artistic Encounter with Early Modern Europe
Exploratory and investigative in nature, this seminar is conceived as a baseline engagement with the intersections of art, religion, science, commerce, war, and diplomacy at Kyoto and Nagasaki in the age of Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English political and mercantile interaction in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It addresses a set of themes whose point of entry is the entangled character of visual production and reception in Japan at a tipping point in the emergence of global modernity, when what were called the Nanbans—“Southern Barbarians,” i.e. Europeans—began to arrive in Japan. The question of whether or not much-theorized nomenclatures such as baroque, rococo, mestizo, and even global modernity are pertinent to analysis from the Japanese and Asian perspective constitutes the backbone of the course and its primary objective in the study of a corpus of visual materials spanning the European and Asian cultural spheres. As such the seminar is not only about Japan, per se, or about Japanese objects, or the shogunal eye. It is equally about how Japan and Japanese objects and materials, along with objects and materials from other places, figured in a greater community of exchange, friction, confrontation, conquest, and adaptation in times when Portuguese marauders, Jesuit missionaries, Muslim traders, and Japanese pirates found themselves in the same waters, on ships laden with goods, making landfall in the domains of Japan’s great military hegemons.