Art Theory and Practice in East Asia

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Final Year
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

This module critically explores the multi-polarity of the field of East Asian art history today by investigating the historical methodologies, canons, practices and other forces by which it has been shaped. The module is designed to explore themes centred on East Asian art visual and material culture from premodern to contemporary times.

There is emphasis throughout on understanding current events and initiatives in the field of East Asian art history, including the ways art has been studied, collected, displayed, accessed and communicated through exhibitions, conferences and websites.

The module aims to bring together theoretical perspectives and practical examples so as to enable students to engage critically with the material and to pursue their own lines of enquiry. The module is therefore centred on student-led input in discussions.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

LO1) Identify important texts associated with the formation of the discipline and theories of art historical development, aesthetics, and interpretation of East Asian art
LO2) Explain and analyse the debates and methodological issues linked to the study of East Asian Art
LO3) Critically assess methods and theoretical approaches relevant to the study of the arts of East Asia and their diasporas

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


  • Lectures: 2hrs per week
  • Independent study: 130 hrs (over 10 weeks)

Scope and syllabus

Depending on staff availability, the module may cover any, or more, of the following themes linked to the module LOs:

  • The canonisation of East Asia Art
  • Connoissuership, style and iconography
  • Art and its definitions
  • Theories of the arts
  • Materials and materiality
  • Historiography

Method of assessment

  • 1,000-word critical literature analysis (worth 30% of marks)
  • 2,000-2,300-word essay (worth 60%)
  • Logbook entries (worth 10%)

Suggested reading



Dr Malcolm McNeill


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules