Themes in the Visual Arts of Dynastic China (before 1800)

Key information

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

Module overview

The course explores the multi-polarity of the field of Chinese art history today by investigating the historical methodologies, canons, practices and other forces by which it has been shaped. The course is primarily focussed on the various arts of dynastic China. These include the brush arts of painting and calligraphy, encompassing a reading of brush traces as special acts and sites of human endeavour, as well as other pictorial art forms, notably the reproductive media of ink-rubbing and woodblock printing. Students are introduced to these media through relevant artistic themes and issues of the dynastic period, including the formation of imperial and social agendas, the advance of technologies relevant to visual culture, and the roles of strife and invasion, religious life, travel and communication. There is emphasis throughout on developing skills of visual analysis, and on understanding current events and initiatives in the field of Chinese art history, including the ways art is collected, displayed, accessed and communicated through exhibitions, conferences and websites.


  • This Module is capped at 30 places
  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office.


  • Two-hour seminar

Method of assessment

  • One 500-word annotated bibliography (worth 10%)
  • One 2,000-word essay (worth 60%)
  • One 10-minute presentation (worth 30%)



Dr Malcolm McNeill


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules