Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other programmes are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.
The first part of the series focuses on the importance of symbols and symbolic visual vocabulary in giving meaning to the religious art of Asia. The literature discussed studies symbols as signifiers of beliefs and concepts in the iconography of Asia (with case studies mostly taken from South Asia and Tibet).We will come across the use of symbols and symbol groups as surprisingly long-lived bearers of auspiciousness. And as smart and surprisingly persistent means to express how the divine and the human interact and connect. We also explore how cosmological visions of the universe get expressed in monumental art, manuscript illustrations and Tibetan scroll paintings. The symbolism of multiplicity (the representation of divine powers through multiplication of e.g. body parts), which is such a strong signifier in Asian sacred language, is another topic on our list. And finally we examine how Asian arts developed new visual vocabularies for expressing and representing divine power. Case studies are taken from various religious contexts offered by Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
The second part of this course focuses on religious narratives in Asian art. Religious stories in Asia are, as elsewhere, continuously retold, reworked, and adapted to new contexts, not only by way of words, but also by way of the visual medium. Stories, such as the Ramayana, a famous Indian epic that spread to Southeast Asia and beyond, and the Jatakas, pan-Asian stories about the previous lives of the Buddha, have various textual versions, but also as many visual versions, dating from ancient times to the present. Starting from Gombrich’s ‘theory of decorum’ we discuss the great flexibility of the visual medium in adapting such religious narratives to new contexts (domestic, religious, political) and the ways in which their meanings were manipulated in the course of this process. In class we examine a number of case studies (Jatakas, Buddha's Life Story and/or Ramayana) within various different Southeast Asian contexts, but your paper may focus on other religious stories in other Asian contexts.
At the end of this course, students will have acquired
Knowledge, via case studies, of religious arts and material culture of Asia;
Insight in the function of religious art in its cultural context;
Insight in the role of art history as a discipline in Asian studies;
Insight into some of the debates in the study of Asian art;
Academic skills to critically and independently analyse complex religious themes in Asian art and interpret these in an Asian Studies context;
The ability to report on the results of independent academic work, both in writing and orally.
Mode of instruction
Seminar combined with individual research of source materials
Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course..
|Total course load for the course 10 EC x 28 hours
|Extra contact hours for Research MA students
|Preparation for extra meetings
|Weekly written reports of readings
|Weekly written reports of readings
Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.
Students must submit their assignment(s) through Brightspace, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.
Assessment and weighing
|10 written reports
|2 papers of 3,000-4,000 words each at the end of each block
The paper(s) is/are written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline(s) for the first version(s) will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version(s).
Late submissions of the final version will result in a deduction of paper grades as follows: 1-24 hrs late = -0.5; 24-48 hrs late = -1.0; 48-72 hrs late = -1.5; 72-96 hrs late = -2.0. Late papers will not be accepted more than four days after the deadline, including weekends and will be graded with 1.0.
The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years
Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) and the insufficient grade is the result of (an) insufficient paper(s), a resit of the paper(s) is possible (60%). In that case the convener(s) of the course may assign a (new) topic and give a new deadline.
A resit of the other partial assessment is not possible.
Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.
Reading materials will be made available in Brightspace, if possible.
Readings for the first meeting to be announced in Brightspace.
For the Research MA students additional reading will be determined by the convener at a later stage, taking into account the students' fields of interest. The students will be expected to prepare and submit reading reports for the extra reading, following a preset format. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature and the reports.
Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.
Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.
Students with disabilities
The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.