nl en

Art and Power in Asia (10 EC)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies, 60 EC and 120 EC or the MA Asian Studies (research). Students from the MA International Relations, the MA History, the MA History (research), the MA Arts and Culture and the MA Arts and Culture (research) are welcome, if places are left. Please contact your study coordinator if you are interested in this course and not a student of one of the MA Asian Studies programmes.


This course investigates how art and art practices have contributed to producing and contesting power in early modern and modern Asia. We explore the connections and ruptures between early modernity and modernity in different regions of Asia with a focus on three major fields in which people created parallel spaces dominated by authorities and alternative communities: Space, Popular Visual Culture, and Modernism. The first two sections - Space and Popular Visual Culture - will focus on modes of expression in early modern East Asia. In the Space section, we will examine three types of spatial realities: religious/auspicious space, urban space, and natural space in crisis. The second section explores how popular visual culture facilitated escape from control by producing alternative realities. The third section - Modernism - moves to the modern period, and looks at 19th and 20th century art and visual cultures from Asia that emerged out of socio-political encounters and negotiations, and counter/hegemonic imaginations. This pilot course brings together art from transnational Asian contexts and histories and forges dialogues between pre-modern and modern histories of art, as well as those between art-making, political thought, human-nature interfaces and meta-processes of empire, colonialism, decolonization, displacements and internationalisms.

Course objectives

Students will acquire disciplinary and area studies skills in this course:

  • They will learn analytical methods in the fields of art history and cultural studies: Students will develop a critical understanding of key terms in art history, such as space, gaze, modernism, and popular visual culture. They will learn to use these terms as critical analytical categories, which they can then apply to their own research projects.

  • The course fosters historical awareness of the intersections of art and power in Asia by covering both the early modern and modern periods.

  • Students will develop critical awareness in applying critical terms of art history and cultural studies to the study of art and art practices in early modern and modern Asia: Through secondary readings, students will engage critically with historical developments in applying these terms to the study of early modern and modern Asian art, and they will apply these insights practically by doing their own analysis of selected case studies pertaining to their own research projects and interests.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Extra assignments may be set to make up for missed class time, at the convener’s discretion. Absence without notification may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Class participation/contribution, webpostings and presentations; These will include working in groups on webpostings and class presentations. Weekly webpostings of 250-300 words approx. will need to be submitted on Brightspace. 40%
3 Short Essays of 1,500 – 2,000 words each on three key modules of the course (Space; Popular Visual Culture; Modernism) 20% each 60%

Detailed instructions will be provided in class. There will not be any exams in this course.

In order to pass the course, students need a pass mark (“voldoende”, i.e. “5.50” or higher) for the course as a whole.

All categories of assessment must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Resits will be allowed only for the short essays (60% of the course)
Only if the total weighted average is 5.49 or lower and this is the result of one or more of the short essays graded 5.49 or lower, a re-sit of one or more of the short essays is possible (20% each). In that case the convener of the course may decide to assign a new topic. The deadline for this version will be determined by the course convener, after consultation with the student. A re-sit for other course components is not possible.

Inspection and feedback

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

To be announced closer to the start of the semester.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof