HSAR 016, EAST 016
Chinese Painting and Culture
This course focuses on important works of Chinese painting and major painters from the fourth century CE to the twentieth century. Through close readings of the pictorial contents and production contexts of such works of art, this course investigates the works’ formats, meanings, and innovations from social, historical, and art-historical perspectives. In this course, students become familiar with the traditional Chinese world and acquire the knowledge necessary to be an informed viewer of Chinese painting. Discussions of religion, folkloric beliefs, literature, relationships between men and women, the worship of mountains, the laments of scholars, and the tastes of emperors and wealthy merchants also allow students to understand the cultural roots of contemporary China.
HSAR 237, EAST 237
Arts of China
Arts of China is a window to the nation’s history, culture, society, and aesthetics. This course introduces the visual arts of China from the prehistoric period to the twentieth century. We look at the archaeological findings (including pottery, jade, and bronze vessels) as well as ancestor worship and belief in posthumous souls and immortal mountains. We look at the art and architecture inspired by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. We investigate the place of Chinese painting and calligraphy in court and elite cultures and explore how these arts intertwine with politics, printing culture, and popular culture. Lastly, we investigate the decorative arts, like ceramics, textiles, and furniture, as well as the art and architecture that reflect foreign tastes.
HSAR 427, EAST 427
Chinese Skin Problems
This seminar uses artwork as a means of understanding the various skin problems faced by contemporary Chinese people. Divided into four modules, this seminar first traces how the “ideal skin” as a complex trope of desire, superficiality, and deception has evolved over time through the ghost story, Painted Skin (Huapi), and its countless spin-offs. Second, the course explores how artists have overcome a variety of social distances and barriers through touch; we look at artworks that highlight the healing power and erotic associations of cleansing, massaging, and moisturizing the skin. Third, we explore the relationship between feminism and gender stereotypes through artworks and performances that involve skincare, makeup and plastic surgery. Fourth, the course investigates the dynamics between “Chineseness,” colorism, and racial tensions through the artworks produced by Chinese-American and diasporic artists. Each module is comprised of one meeting focusing on theoretical frameworks and two meetings focusing on individual artists and close analysis of artworks. Readings include Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings, Nikki Khanna’s Whiter, and Leta Hong Fincher’s Leftover Women.