Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Writing on East and Southeast Asian Ceramics
Monday, Wednesday: 3:30-5:00pm
Ceramics are tools for use, surfaces for ornament, feats of technology, and carriers of meaning across cultural and geographic borders. Ceramics produced in east and southeast Asia are considered among the world’s first global commodities. They are also fascinating works of art that were copied and translated by potters in regions including West Asia, Europe, and the Americas. This course is framed around a series of study visits to examine Asian ceramics in the collection of the Berkeley Art Museum. Each week, close object analysis is paired with visual and textual analysis in order to engage with methodologies and critical issues in ceramics history and material culture studies. Across four modules, we discuss topics such as ceramics as archeological evidence; the figure of the craftsman; the art of tea; and ceramics in global trade.
This course fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition (R&C) requirement. We will engage closely with texts and works of art, developing strategies to be effective readers, writers, and researchers at the college level. In the first half of the course, we will be guided by primary sources, scholarship, and museum catalogues in the field of Asian and global ceramics history. Students will study texts closely for how they use sources, build an argument, and enter into an academic conversation. Frequent short writing assignments will draw on object and visual analysis skills practiced in class, and respond to primary sources and methodological texts. In the second half of the course, we will produce a longer (10-12 page) research paper, crafting a historical argument based on the analysis of an object or set of objects in the Berkeley Art Museum collection.