HISTART 393 - Junior Proseminar
Section: 002 Rhetoric of the Invisible: A View from East Asia
Term: WN 2008
Subject: History of Art (HISTART)
Department: LSA History of Art
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Concentration in History of Art and upperclass standing.
Other Course Info:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This first half of this course surveys the religious arts of Japan, focusing on the expression of the invisible in visual form. Each class will focus on a particular monument of Japanese art, ranging in date from the sixth century to the present day. By examining traditions of kami worship (Shintô), Buddhism, mountain cults, and contemporary religions, we will shed light on the status of the “icon,” the role of ritual and performance, viewer reception, and the relationship of visual art to the natural and man-made worlds. The second half of the course will build on this base of knowledge to look at more specialized topics, both within Japanese art and art history in general. We will consider theories of “sacred” art and experience from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, focusing on three key questions:

  • “Why are the visual arts so prominent in religious practice?”
  • “How do artists create a compelling vision of imagined worlds?”
  • and “How does art motivate people to believe and act in new ways?”

Although the focus throughout the course will be on specific cases from Japan, students will be encouraged draw on their knowledge of and interests in a wider geographic and temporal range of art history to engage these issues. Ultimately, our inquiry will lead us away not only from East Asia, but also from the artificially-limited category of “religious” art to consider the more general rhetorical force of visual forms. In order to prepare students for a thesis project in their senior year, we will also devote substantial sections of several classes to discussions of research techniques, writing mechanics, formal presentation, and scholarly methods in art history.

III. 1, 2

HISTART 393 - Junior Proseminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
Th 1:00PM - 4:00PM
002 (SEM)
W 1:00PM - 4:00PM
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