This course will explore the development of visual arts, focusing on how certain visual concepts flourished specifically within Asian and African cultures. Probing aesthetic value systems as employed and molded by significant artists in these cultural contexts, the course structure will provide a comparative context within which to view these developments. These visual cultures also provide a window on social, religious, economic, and political trends in these regions. Course readings will accentuate connections between visual and societal tendencies. Assessment will revolve around students’ grappling with readings in online journals, demonstrating that knowledge in in-class essay exams, and expanding upon that knowledge with a term paper that explores an artist or artistic trend of particular interest to them within the cultural areas considered by the course.
Field WorkCountry: Japan
Date: January 25, 2017
In Japan we will visit a Zen temple and experience Zen meditation in two different settings, both quietly sitting with no visual stimulation and sitting with visual stimulation. The former will take place at Shunkōin, a sub-temple of Myōshinji Temple, the latter at the nearby Ryōanji Temple, home of a famous “dry landscape” (kare sansui) garden. Through these experiences, students will develop a better understanding of the function of visual forms in a Zen context and an overarching sense of the importance of impact of Zen in Japanese culture.
1. Experience Zen meditation and discuss the experience with Reverend Takafumi Kawakami, Vice Abbot of Shunkōin subtemple, of Myōshinji Temple.
2. Develop an understanding of the function of visual forms in a Zen context
3. Explore the impact of Zen Buddhism on Japanese culture