Cities and the Arts : Beijing
This course focuses on the visual and material cultures produced in and around the Chinese capital Beijing from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) to the present. While Beijing has served as the political center of China for much of the last 1000 years, it has been equally important as a center of culture and the arts. Throughout this course, we will look at a wide range of topics and objects: some public and iconic (the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Yuanming Yuan, the Olympic Park), others small and intimate (literati paintings, ivory and lacquer carvings, imperial ceramics, photographs), and anything in-between (temple murals, gardens, propaganda posters, films). Major patrons and artists from the city like the Qianlong emperor, Empress Dowager Cixi, and Ai Weiwei will also be examined. Through in-depth studies of specific objects, sites, or people, students will gain a solid understanding of Beijing’s role and contribution to the history of Chinese art.
Readings will consist mostly of works by major scholars from China and the United States (Wu Hung, Craig Clunas, Patricia Berger, Yang Boda, Nie Chongzheng, etc.), but they will be heavily supplemented with excerpts of primary sources taken from the travels of Marco Polo, short fictions by Lao She, interviews given by Ai Weiwei, and others.
Knowledge of Chinese is not required.