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Creativity and Culture in Contemporary China


Admission requirements

None. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact their co-ordinator of studies.


After a period of serving as an ideological instrument, in post-Mao China cultural products have become market commodities. Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government declared creativity one of the priorities in a bid to move from manufacturing to innovation. Drawing on empirical cases from visual arts, music, publishing industries, and others, the course explores the producers, consumers, and intermediaries of the cultural products and contexts in which they operate. We will use sociological theories and concepts to discuss the complexities in the interplay between culture, markets and politics in China’s context, and to what extent China’s creative industries and markets of cultural products differ from those elsewhere. In addition to recent history, we will look at current events and present-day configurations in the Chinese creative industries and art worlds.

Course objectives

  • Provide an overview of the fields of cultural production in China since 1978.

  • Introduce major sociological concepts and theories related to cultural markets and creative industries.

  • Develop ability to critically analyze production, consumption and gatekeeping processes in China’s cultural and creative industries.

  • Develop critical thinking, the ability to gather and process information and work with secondary sources, and develop analytical, writing and presentation skills.


Check timetable

Mondays, 13-15 hrs.

Mode of instruction


Attendance and active participation is mandatory.

Course Load

  • Seminar 2 ×13 uur: 26 hours

  • Compulsory readings: 110 hours

  • Written assignments and presentation: 64 hours

  • Research proposal: 80 hours

  • Total: 280 hours

Assessment method

  • Presentation: 20%

  • Two written assignments: 2×15%

  • Participation: 10%

  • Research proposal: 40%


The course uses Blackboard for announcements, course documents and assignments.

Reading list



Registration through uSis


Svetlana Kharhenkova
Lecturer, Leiden University
Address: Arsenaalstraat 1, 2311 CT Leiden, Room number 0.12
Phone: +31 71 527 1180