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ARTH 236

Eccentrics & the Exotic in 17th & 18th c. China & Japan

This course explores two major artistic currents arising in both China and Japan in the 17th and 18th centuries. Dubbed "eccentric" by their contemporaries, a number of innovative painters broke the rules, constructed "bohemian" personas, and yet also paid homage to their art historical heritage. Alongside the (re)emerging figure of the eccentric artist, 17th and 18th century China and Japan also encountered Europeans. As a result, both countries grappled with its sense of identity, as a nation and as a people. Contact with Europeans, direct and indirect, led to the representation of "other" and experimentation with unfamiliar artistic techniques. Thus, through this focused study of a specific time period in China and Japan, students examine "diversity" and "inclusion" in a pre-modern, East Asian context. With paintings as our point of departure, we will think deeply about the meanings of terms such as "eccentric" and "exotic," as well as how the associated concerns of artistic freedom and negotiation with "other" still resonate in contemporary society. This class will nurture critical thinking about art and its active role in international relations today, challenging students to approach the subjects of diversity and inclusion from different points of view and to express opinions articulately in verbal, as well as in written, form.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course