Project Wellspring

Di Luo's Teaching Portfolio

Introduction to Asian Art

Course Description & Objectives

An introductory course in the history of Asian art can provide much pleasure and insight. It opens up a world full of distinctive and meaningful works of art and architecture in India, China, Japan, and other parts of Asia, and leads you to explore the rich material and cultural legacies of the great civilizations in Asia’s past.

Our study will be guided by a series of fundamental questions; for instance:

  • How is Asia defined, geographically and culturally?
  • What are some characteristics of Asian art? Were these characteristics shared within or without different parts of Asia?
  • What major religions and intellectual traditions influenced the formation of Asian art?
  • What were the roles of art in shaping and transforming Asian societies?
  • How did various forms of art travel and spread in Asia?
  • How have artworks, artifacts, and architectural remains helped archaeologists and historians understand Asia’s past?

We will learn through images, texts, and hands-on experiences. The lectures and assigned readings focus on a set of key works considered to be the most representative of the artistic tradition of their respective time, place, and culture. We will also cover a number of key terms and definitions used to describe and identify specific art or art-related subjects, exploring certain ideas, concepts, and themes which might broaden our views of art history in general.

The course will unfold in three parts:

  1. Early Civilizations (weeks 2-5), which focuses on art found in early human settlements.
  2. Buddhist Art and Architecture (weeks 6-9), which investigates transregional themes and styles engendered under the influence of Buddhism.
  3. Regional Styles (weeks 10-15), which presents distinctive, local art forms coexisting (and often interacting) with Buddhist ones.

Taking this course will not only allow you to acquire a general and holistic understanding of the arts of Asia—their forms, functions, styles, contexts, significances, historical developments, etc.—but it will also increase your abilities and skills especially in the following respects:

Visual Analysis Students will learn how to approach a piece of artwork and give accurate descriptions of its form and content to advance an argument or interpretation.
Historical / Global 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/political ideologies, ritual, commerce, trade, social structure, technological breakthroughs, etc.

Students will also be able to discern possible connections and exchanges between the arts of different regions, and develop a critical understanding and comparative view of various forms of art across space and time.

Digital Literacy The lectures will incorporate the use of online databases and digital tools. Familiarity with these databases and tools, 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, handouts, lecture presentations and notes, image groups, video contents, and exam materials—will be posted on Courseweb.

Most of the readings are from Sherman Lee, A History of Far Eastern Art (Prentice Hall, 1994) and Dorinda Neave, Lara C.W. Blanchard, and Marika Sardar, Asian Art (Pearson, 2015). Students might consider purchasing these books; however, they are not mandatory.

(Please note: all materials on Courseweb 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 1 and April 19. 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 material 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 1/4 Introduction


2 1/9 Indus River Valley

Mohenjo Daro


1/11 Yellow River Valley and Yangzi River Valley




3 1/16 Martin Luther King Observance—No Class
1/18 Bronze Age China I

Tomb of Lady Hao

4 1/23 Bronze Age China II

Tomb of Marquis Yi

1/25 Early Tomb Art in China

First Emperor’s Mausoleum and Terracotta army



5 1/30 Early Tomb Art in Korea and Japan

Emperor Nintoku’s tomb



2/1 Field Trip I

Carnegie Museum of Art: Art before 1300


6 2/6 Buddhist Art in India I

Great Stupa at Sanchi

Great Chaitya Hall at Karle

Ajanta Caves

2/8 Buddhist Art in India II



7 2/13 Buddhist Art in Central Asia


2/15 Buddhist Art in Southeast Asia


8 2/20 Buddhist Art in China and Korea




2/22 Buddhist Art in Japan


Ryokai Mandala


9 2/27 Buddhist Art in Tibet


Healing mandala

3/1 Exam I
3/5-12  Spring Break—No Class


10 3/13 Hindu Art in India I

Shiva Nataraja

Elephanta Caves

3/15 Hindu Art in India II

Descent of the Ganges

The Kailasa Temple at Ellora

11 3/20 Jain Art in India


3/22 Field Trip II

Cathedral of Learning: Indian Room, Chinese Room, Japanese Room

12 3/27 Chinese Painting I

Figure painting

3/29 Chinese Painting II

Ruled-line painting

Landscape painting

13 4/3 Japanese Architecture I

Ise Shrine


4/5 Japanese Architecture II


Tai-an Teahouse

14 4/10 Secular Art in Japan

Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World

4/12 Islamic Art in Asia

Taj Mahal

Niujie Mosque

15 4/17 Review
4/19 Exam II




This entry was posted on April 19, 2016 by in syllabus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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