SOAS University of London

History of Art and Archaeology

Art, state and society in South and Southeast Asia

Module Code:
158100021
Status:
Module Not Running 2022/2023
Credits:
15
FHEQ Level:
5
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1

South and Southeast Asia is a region of great religious and cultural diversity. This module examines aspects of the visual arts of South, Southeast Asia and/or Tibet and the Himalayas over two millennia from the third century BC to the 18th century AD.

A core theme is the role of art, architecture and visual culture in the negotiation between cosmopolitan and local cultures, and the formation of regional, religious and political identities by rulers, patrons, artists and their communities. This cultural encounter was expressed in terms of transregional literary and court cultures (Pali, Persian, Sanskrit or Tibetan), religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam) as well as visual culture.

The module may primarily address a single region - South Asia or Southeast Asia or Tibet and the Himalayas - and/or period (medieval/8-14th or early modern/15th-18th centuries) or may range more widely in two blocks of co-taught lecture-seminars. The architecture of the stupa, palace, mausoleum, mosque and/or temple will be examined - as monument, symbol, political arena, ritual theatre and sacred space – alongside the role of painting or sculpture in the formation of political, religious and cultural identities in this dynamic period of cross-cultural encounter.

Classroom discussion will be complemented by study-visits to London's rich museum collections.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

LO1) demonstrate broad knowledge of selected periods, styles and/or themes in the art and architectural history of South Asia and/or Southeast Asia and/or Tibet and the Himalayas from the early centuries BCE to the 18th century.
LO2) critically analyse and interpret the production and use of visual material - including sculpture, paintings and/or architecture - within its cultural, political, religious and economic contexts.
LO3) situate the production of knowledge of South and/or Southeast Asian and/or Tibetan and Himalayan art in a global historical context.
LO4) evaluate varied approaches and key issues in the study of the arts of South and/or Southeast Asia and/or Tibet and the Himalayas.
LO5) demonstrate a range of skills in visual and literary analysis, research and other study skills for successful academic and vocational pathways.     

The learning outcomes for this course are in line with those of the History of Art & Archaeology programme as a whole with its emphasis on the analysis of visual and material culture from a range of themes and within an understanding of the social, political, religious and cultural contexts for the production and use of art.

Workload

  • Lectures: 1hr per week
  • Seminars: 1hr per week
  • Independent study: 130 hrs (over 10 weeks)

Scope and syllabus

Depending upon staff availability, the module may primarily address a single region - South Asia or Southeast Asia or Tibet and the Himalayas - and/or period (medieval/8-14th or early modern/15th-18th centuries) or may range more widely in two blocks of co-taught lecture-seminars.

The syllabus may examine the role of architecture as monument, symbol, political arena, ritual theatre and/or sacred space. The types and forms of architecture may include the stupa, temple, mosque, palace and/or mausoleum. Depending upon the region and period addressed, the role of painting or sculpture in the formation of political, religious and cultural identities may also be included.

Classroom discussion will be complemented by study-visits to London's rich museum collections.

Method of assessment

  • 750-word critical object/literature analysis (worth 20% of marks)
  • 1,500-1,700 word essay second year and 1,700-2,000 word essay final year (worth 40%)
  • Exam: 2 hours (worth 40%)

Suggested reading

  • Catherine B. Asher and Cynthia Talbot, India before Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) - new rev. ed. in 2022.
  • Susan L. Huntington and John Huntington, The Art of Ancient India: Hindu, Buddhist, Jain (New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1985).
  • George Michell, Architecture and Art of Southern India: Vijayanagara and the Successor States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • George Michell, Hindu Art and Architecture (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000).
  • Ashley Thompson, Engendering the Buddhist State Territory, Sovereignty and Sexual Difference in the Inventions of Angkor, (London: Routledge, 2016).
  • Hiram W. Woodward, The Art and Architecture of Thailand : From Prehistoric Times through the Thirteenth Century, 2nd ed. (Leiden ; Boston: Brill, 2005).     

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules