Japanese Art and Visual Culture

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Arts & Department of History of Art and Archaeology

Module overview

This module aims to introduce aspects of the history of Japanese visual culture in relation to religious, literary, historical and/or social contexts.

The material covered may address a particular theme - such as Prints, Paintings and Popular Visual Culture or Canons and Culture in the making of modern art in Japan – within a particular period in Japanese history, such as the Edo (1603-1868) or Meiji (1868-1912) periods, or over a longer time span. The material examined may range from paintings, prints or illustrated fiction to lens-based media. Class discussion will be complemented by study-visits to museums.

Objectives and learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to

  • Examine how and why the arts have been produced and used within the cultural and social contexts of Japan.
  • Assess critical issues in the study of the visual arts of Japan before 1945.
  • Critically evaluate the historiography of the art and visual culture of Japan.


  • Lectures: 1 hour per week  
  • Seminars: 1 hour per week 

Method of assessment

  • 1,000-word review/report (worth 30% of marks)
  • 2,000-word essay (worth 70%)

Suggested reading

  • J. Cahill, Sakaki Hyakusen and Early Japanese Nanga , California, 1983.
  • M. Takeuchi, Taiga's True Views , Stanford, 1992.
  • H. Link, Theatrical Prints of the Torii School, Honolulu, 1977.
  • T. Screech, Sex and the Floating World, London, 1999.
  • T. Clark, Ukiyoe Paintings in the British Museum, London, 1995.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.