Graduate Seminar: Making Art Modern in Japan
A strong current of books and essays in recent years has brought into fuller view modern formations of art institutions, policies, histories, and aesthetics in Japan in relationship to global flows/conflicts. The time is ripe for reading into this literature to probe historiographical/methodological questions and take stock of interpretive positions on the making of “Japanese art” and its modern institutions/systems. Who was creating art history in Japan, how, and where during the late 19th-early 20th century? How did museums come into being in Japan in relationship to modernity, architecture, and empire? How were the categories of “Japanese” and “East Asian” (Tōyō) art and architecture created and deployed for domestic/global audiences? What roles did the Worlds Fairs play? How were orientalism and colonialism operating in the visual arts and spaces in Japan and globally? In light of these histories, what do we make of present-day art history work on Japan? Rather than a survey of “modern Japanese art” or chronological/thematic sequence of artists, schools, and styles, our work will be mainly to take up the institutional, spatial, linguistic, collecting, and colonial/imperial dimensions of art (old, new) and Japan through proposals in: Satō, Modern Japanese Art and the Meiji State: The Politics of Beauty (2011). Zheng, Japan’s Imperial Museums: Architecture and the Art of the Nation (2008). “Beyond Tenshin: Okakura Kakuzō’s Multiple Legacies,” Review of Japanese Culture and Society (2012). Pai, Heritage Management in Korea and Japan: The Politics of Antiquity and Identity (2013). Guth, Art, Tea, and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle (1993). We may also work into modern painting and aesthetics, drawing from: Victoria Weston, Japanese Painting and National Identity: Okakura Tenshin and His Circle (2004); Bert Winther-Tamaki, Maximum Embodiment: Yoga, the Western Painting of Japan, 1912-1955 (2012); Michael Marra, ed. Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation (2002). Time permitting we will turn to the decades prior to/during the Asia-Pacific War and Asato Ikeda et al., ed. Art and War in Japan and its Empire, 1931-1960 (Brill, 2013) and Alan Tansman, The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism (2009).
This is an exploratory, reading heavy seminar. Discussion will be participant driven. May be taken for 4 or 2 units (the former requiring a research essay). No knowledge of the Japanese language is required. Graduate students need not be specialists in Asian studies fields. Advanced undergraduates with prior course work in Japanese studies and/or art history may apply to participate with a brief explanation of interest and the course’s relevance to major area(s).