Cities and the Arts: Beijing and Shanghai
Beijing, with its long imperial history in northern China, and Shanghai, a relatively young port city to the south, present two contrasting cases of the complex relationship between urban spaces and the arts in China. While the northern capital’s artistic and urban development depended heavily on support by the central political power, arts in Shanghai thrived through private enterprise and patronage. Thus, we will consider the significant difference between public and private art, site-specific and portable art objects, as well as professional and amateur artists. This course is designed to prompt students to consider the many incarnations of these two cities through a study of the visual and material cultures produced in and about the cities. We will examine historical maps, public spaces, monuments, private gardens, propaganda posters, and films in our endeavor to better understand the intrinsic relationship between art and the urban environment.
Readings will consist of both primary sources (artist’s statements, letters and memoirs) and scholarly works by experts in the field of Chinese Art, Chinese History and Urban Studies (Wu Hung, Patricia Berger, Yeh Wen-hsin, Leo Lee, John Urry, and Michel de Certeau). We will conduct close readings and students will be expected to engage thoroughly with the textual and visual materials presented throughout the course. Students are expected to allot enough time in their schedules to thoroughly read and analyze assigned texts so they are ready to participate in class discussions.
Knowledge of Chinese is not required.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (B) and Chronological periods (II and III).