Beautiful Writing: Histories of Calligraphy in Japan and East Asia
Why does writing matter in East Asia? What is the place of writing in art history? What is lost when we think of texts only in terms of content, divorced from style, medium, and materials? What can textual historians and those studying non-Asian art gain from a close examination of the written word as a physical object? What can we learn from handwriting in a digital age?
This seminar explores practices of brush writing in Japan, with a secondary emphasis on Chinese and Korean calligraphic traditions. We will consider basic linguistic features of East Asian cultures; fundamental art historical ideas including style, abstraction, materiality, artistic practice, connoisseurship, semiotics, and formal analysis; social and cultural issues such as valuation and the formation of personal, gender, and proto-national identities. We will not necessarily follow a chronological narrative, but we will cover the beginnings of writing in central China up through 21 st century calligraphy in Japan and elsewhere. Different themes will necessarily involve comparisons of diverse cultural and historical moments.
In addition to providing an overview of East Asian calligraphic traditions, this class aims to develop and deepen your understanding of East Asian languages and cultures, while honing your skills of written and oral description, along with textured historical and visual analysis.
HISTART Distribution Requirements: Medieval, Early Modern, Asia (includes China, Japan, India, South and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific).