Chinese Art and Aesthetics in transcultural perspectives

Chinese Art and Aesthetics in transcultural perspectives

Winter 2014
Zhejiang University


Dr. Volker Heubel (何心鹏)

Course Description

The course is conceived as an introduction into the field of Chinese art and aesthetics, which tries to give basic insights into the field from a contemporary and transcultural perspective. We will focus on two arts: the art of tea and the art of writing, which both formed an important part of traditional literati culture and which, both in their characteristic ways, are searching for forms of contemporary expression.  We look - in an exemplary way - at their contemporary forms, examine how they relate to their tradition and further ask how certain traditions could function as resources for possible developments in the future. Because Chinese art and aesthetics are strongly influenced by Chinese spiritual and philosophical traditions like Confucianism and Daoism, the course furthermore introduces into main thoughts of these traditions in relation to the field.

The course aims at combining a theoretical-descriptive with a practical approach that views arts as cultural practices, which have to be experienced and exercised. Ideally these two approaches enhance and elucidate each other. This will be done by practical exercises, in form of dialogues with artists and specialists in the relevant field and by excursions in the area. This gives the participants the chance of direct cultural experience and to pose questions to experts working in the field.

Because the contemporary field of art and aesthetics is basically situated in a globalizing world characterized by complex transcultural processes, the course reflects on transcultural influences leading to certain developments or which attract the attention of certain artists or aesthetic phenomena. This transcultural perspective not only includes the relation between China and the West, but also the relation between China and East-Asian countries like Japan. Therefore the course will at the same time introduce important contemporary Western and Japanese aesthetic positions in selective readings, thus opening up a field of possible questions concerning the interpretation of Chinese art and aesthetics.

The 8 sessions of the course will be held on the basis of presentations by the participants, group discussions, exercises and excursions. Active participation, a presentation and a short paper is required for receiving credits. Relevant literature will be given at the beginning of the course.








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