Imagining Private Life in Early Modern China

Course Number: 
EALC 25708/35708
M. Powers
Course Description: 

This course examines how artists, poets, moralists, politicians, and philosophers painted, sang about, or legislated private life in early modern China. The paintings, poems, and documents we examine will allow us to peer deeply into the private lives of people speaking as intellectuals, monks, lovers, married couples, or parents. In addition to such private objects as pillows, mirrors, or personal fans, we’ll also look at paintings about private matters intended for viewing in public. To prepare us for this voyeuristic voyage, we will read modern studies of early modern family life in China by historians, sociologists and anthropologists, as well as primary legal and philosophical arguments written in classical and early modern China. We will also read some primary and secondary materials relating to private life in early modern Europe. Students will acquire a basic understanding of moral, political, and legal issues relevant to the conduct of private life at the time. Along the way, students will learn as well the fundamentals of conducting social history research using primary materials, including visual art. We will view works at the Art Institute of Chicago in storage and in the galleries as part of the class. Requirements include regular class participation, short (5 minute) class presentations, a longer (20 minute) presentation, and a final paper (10 pages) based on the longer presentation. Graduate students will be expected to write longer papers utilizing more advanced research methods, including the use of primary languages.

Equivalent coures:  ARTH 25708/35708

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