Project Wellspring

Di Luo's Teaching Portfolio

Art of China


Auspicious Cranes, attrib. Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song dynasty. 1112 CE.

Course Description & Objectives

This course is a survey of Chinese art from the prehistoric time to the present. Through the exciting exploration of various forms of art and architecture—jade, pottery, bronzes, stone carvings, paintings, cities and palaces, temples and pagodas, gardens and landscapes, etc.—we will be exposed to the richness of Chinese material culture and the intellectual tradition that lies behind it. We will come to appreciate Chinese civilization as one of the major early civilizations of the world and become more aware of its contributions to and influences on global art and culture of this day.

We will learn through images, texts, and hands-on experiences. The lectures and assigned readings introduce to you a set of key works of Chinese art and explain the related key terms and concepts.

The course materials will be organized following a chronological order:

  1. Early China (5000 BCE-220 CE), weeks 2-5.
  2. Medieval China (220-1200 CE), weeks 6-9.
  3. Modern and Contemporary China (1200 CE-present), weeks 10-14.

The materials will be grouped and examined under a series of themes including memorialization, authority, ritual, monumentality, time, patronage, visualization, canon, modularity, production, imagination, space, iconoclasm, and so on.

Taking this course will not only familiarize you with the masterpieces of Chinese art, but also increase essential skills that are valuable for any discipline or pursuit:

Visual Analysis Students will learn how to identify a piece of artwork and give accurate descriptions of its form and content to advance an argument or interpretation.
Historical Awareness Students will learn to interpret a piece of artwork in its original historical and cultural context, exploring the relationships between artistic creation and religious rituals, political ideologies, intellectual milieu, social structure, technological breakthroughs, etc.
Digital Literacy The course will incorporate the use of online databases and applications. Familiarity with these digital technologies, though not required to pass this course, is strongly encouraged. It will bring you so much fun while you study, appreciate, evaluate, and even create art.


All course materials—including the syllabus, weekly reading assignments, lecture presentations and notes, handouts, image groups, video contents, and exam materials—will be posted on Courseweb.

Most of the readings are from Robert L. Thorp and Richard Ellis Vinograd, Chinese Art and Culture (Pearson, 2001). Students might consider purchasing this book, though it is not mandatory.

(Please note: all course materials are for educational purposes in this class only. They are subject to copyright law and may not be posted on the internet or shared with anyone outside the course.)


Exams Two take-home exams in the form of short-answer and/or essay questions to be completed and submitted via Turnitin on Courseweb on March 2 and April 20. The questions will be posted at least 48 hours before the due time of the exam.

Each exam is worth 30 points. The exams are NOT cumulative. There is no final exam for this course.

30 pts x 2 = 60 pts
Quizzes A quiz will be given on EACH lecture day and should be submitted by the end of that day via Courseweb.

Each quiz is worth 2 points and should take around 10 minutes to complete. Only the highest 20 grades will be calculated toward your final course grade.

The quizzes are designed to be low-stakes and to encourage students to attend lectures regularly. Pay attention to the lecture and the quizzes will only boost your grade!

2 pts x 20 = 40 pts
Total 100 pts
Extra credit There are two ways to earn extra credit in this course:

1)      3D Scanning (2 points)

Detailed instruction will be posted separately on Courseweb.

2)      Event Participation & Report (1 point each)

On occasion, I will announce an event relevant to the content of the course, which you can attend for extra credit. After attending the event, students must submit a one-page, double-spaced description of the visit and their response and turn this in on Courseweb by the next class meeting.

Up to 4 pts

Your final course grade will be computed as follows:

A 94-100 B+ 87-89 C+ 77-79 D+ 67-69 F 0-59
A- 90-93 B 84-86 C 74-76 D 64-66
B- 80-83 C- 70-73 D- 60-63


Week Date Topic
1 1/5 Introduction

 Part I. Early China (5000 BCE-220 CE)

2 1/10 Prehistoric Settlements



1/12 Jade and Pottery




3 1/17 Ritual Space

Fengchu Palace-Temple

Burial District of the Zhongshan Kings

“Royal City” Plan (Magic Square)

1/19 Bronze Age China I: Shang

Tomb of Lady Hao

4 1/24 Bronze Age China II: Zhou

Tomb of Marquis Yi

1/26 Art for the Dead I: Qin

First Emperor’s Mausoleum and Terracotta army

5 1/31 Art for the Dead II: Han



2/2 Field Trip I

 Part II. Medieval China (220-1200 CE)

6 2/7 Rise of Buddhist Art

Mogao Cave Temples

2/9 Buddhist Art under Imperial Patronage

Yungang Cave Temples

Longmen Cave Temples



2/14 Buddhist Art in the Tang Dynasty

Longmen Cave Temples (cont’d)

Transformation tableaux at Mogao

2/16 Figure Painting

Admonitions scroll

Thirteen Emperors

Court Ladies

8 2/21 Ruled-line Painting

Qingming scroll

2/23 Landscape Painting

Travelers amid Mountains and Streams

Early Spring

9 2/28 Buddhist Architecture

Foguangsi temple

Yingxian Wooden Pagoda

3/2 Exam I
3/5-12  Spring Break—No Class

 Part III. Modern and Contemporary China (1200 CE-present)

10 3/14 Ceramic and Porcelain

Song wares


3/16 Literati Painting

Huang Gongwang

Ni Zan

11 3/21 Ming Garden Art

Lingering Garden

Literary Gathering in the Apricot Garden

Enjoying Antiquities

3/23 Field Trip II
12 3/28 Qing Court Art

Giuseppe Castiglione

Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace)

3/30 Qing Imperial Architecture

Forbidden City

Altar of Heaven

13 4/4 Chinoiserie
4/6 Nationalism

Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin

14 4/11 Art in the Republic Era
4/13 Chinese Avant-Garde

Ai Weiwei

15 4/18 Review
4/20 Exam II


This entry was posted on April 15, 2016 by in syllabus and tagged , , , .
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