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HART2100: Architecture and the Mapping of Empire in Asia.

Image 1As a new academic opportunity in the History of Art Department, Professor Miller and Professor Shin will be co-teaching HART 2100 in the Spring of 2020. This course will analyze how architecture was used to express and delimit the Asian empire, and how it serves as an expression of ethnic identity. Architecture offers students a window into understanding how imperial identity and authority was maintained during Asian empire building. The professors plan to address the imperial, social, and spiritual aims that monumental Asian architecture served, as well as the visual culture that expanded the reach of state officials and their corporate structures. According to Professor Heeryoon Shin, "The field of art history has seen a dramatic increase of interest in "global" artistic exchanges, but I feel that it still tends to center on "East-West" connections... I wanted to develop a course that explores the rich and complex history of cultural exchange across the vast region of Asia, linked by trade, pilgrimage, diplomacy, and war."


Topics will be discussed over a wide time range, beginning in the 3rd century BCE and concluding in the 20th century CE. Class focus points include divine kingship and royal divinities, the legitimacy and identity of early modern empires, global architecture and the empires of capitalism, and the rise from empire to modern nation. This course will also concentrate on cosmology in construction, specifically in regards to cities, temples, and gardens. The physical manifestations of divine kingship and royal divinities will be investigated, as well as the ancient models that were utilized and developed by Asian empires to increase state legitimacy.


A unique aspect of this course is its diverse subject matter as it "emphasizes the broader exchange of artistic traditions at local, trans-regional, and global levels and their role in identity formation, with a focus on Asia." Also in the words of Professor Shin, students "will see that we do not stay strictly in the Asian region, but explore connections with other regions and cultures such as the Middle East and Europe... encountering visual forms that may not perfectly fit into the conventional categories of "Western" or "non-Western" art."


Students should look forward to developing historical research skills, as well as the ability to analyze the use of space and style to discover meaning. This class will teach undergraduates how to recognize architectural “events” and understand choices made in selection and design of architectural forms. Professor Miller and Shin note that students "will be able to make connections between what they learn in class and what they see in their everyday life outside the classroom." Moreover, general writing and researching skills will be cultivated in this class as "the final research paper will ask students to place a monument it its specific political, social, and artistic context, using what they have learned in class as well as additional library research. It will help them engage critically with scholarly sources and use them effectively to support their argument, and clearly communicate their ideas to the reader."


A couple other exciting details about this course include a field trip to the local Sri Ganesha Temple. Professor Miller states that this will give students "a chance to experience South Asian temple architecture first hand... and a perfect opportunity to discuss the construction of a non-local form in the US, what it says about authenticity in religious architecture, and the financial and/or political power of immigrant communities as expressed through religious architecture." Additionally, students in this class will be eligible to submit writing entries to Architectura Sinica, a web-based research portal for the study of Chinese architecture, and apply for a Buchanan Fellowship, offered by the Central Library, to support this work.


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HART 2100 will meet on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:35 AM to 10:50 AM. This course will count for AXLE Perspectives credit. For HART majors, this course will count for the Non-Western area requirement. For Asian Studies majors, this lecture will count for Humanities and the Asian Perspectives requirements. HART 2100 is also available for graduate credit. Required texts include Robert Tignor’s Worlds Together, Worlds Apart (5th ed.). For additional information, the syllabus may be viewed here.