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Topics in Chinese Art History, Things and Paths: Approaches to Chinese Art and Material Culture


Admission requirements

No language requirement.


Drawing on a variety of visual and textual sources, this course introduces students to different approaches in material arts in China. When talking about agency, we usually associate it with subjects but rarely with the seemingly inert and passive objects/things. However, things have the power to gather or separate people, arouse emotions, and orient social practices. Focusing on concepts such as agency, gifts, fetishes, icons, appropriation, replicas, and collection, this seminar reconsiders artifacts and their movements in the broader art historical, social, and political contexts in China. Students will also be introduced to major art historical approaches in visual and material culture in relation to developments in anthropology, history, aesthetics, and other disciplines.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, student should be able to:  Recognize art historical debates in the field of material culture in general, and have a solid understanding of major issues in Chinese material culture;  Identify primary and secondary sources related with students’ specific interests and engage them with the approaches and knowledge introduced in this class;  Develop three key skills central to advanced art historical research: careful reading, confident oral presentation, and clear critical writing.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

10 EC = 280 hours total
Weekly seminars: 2 hours per week: 26 hours total
Preparation for classwork: 6 hours per week: ca. 84 hours
Preparation for presentation: ca. 20 hours
Written work: ca. 150 hours

Assessment method

  1. Class participation and contribution 20%
  2. Class discussion groups 20% (10% x 2)
  3. Final research essay 60%


Blackboard is used in the course.
Students must self-enroll on Blackboard, which is used for posting syllabus, class communications, and essay submission.

Reading list

See blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. Fan Lin