Mew Lingjun Jiang, November 15

Mew Lingjun Jiang, MAPH-TLO’20 Art History

“The Fluidity of Image and Symbol in Karuta Japanese Playing Cards, 1573-Today”

Respondent: Robert Burgos, PhD student, Department of History

Friday, November 15, 2019

4:30-6:30 pm, CWAC 156

A Pre-circulated paper is available at this link with a password: karuta.

Abstract: The visual and material developments of ephemera, such as karuta (かるた・カルタ・歌留多・骨牌) the Europe-originated Japanese playing cards, have involved more than what can be observed. Although karuta are meant to be expendable objects, their material varieties include gold-leafed, hand-painted, woodblock-printed, and color-stenciled cards, made by detailed outlining and careful coloring, sometimes with abstractive designs and a calligraphic touch in bold contrast, leaving traces of illustrative depictions in artworks and artifacts. However, most of the research on karuta, especially of the regional patterns, is rule-oriented through a lens of gaming and gambling studies, and the variations in the abstractive and expressive design of these playing cards have long been a mystery.

The visual and material study of the continuously changing message carried by karuta takes us back to the everyday life in the past and connects us to the future discussion of art, games, and the relationship between humans, images, and things. Based on current studies of the cultural history of karuta written in Japanese, and adding to the limited research written in English, this paper describes and explains the fluidity of images and symbols of karuta as cultural icons, as well as the visual history of their artistic depictions, curious designs, and regional patterns from the Tenshō era (1573-92) to the present day.

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou ( and Yin Wu (


“Mew” Lingjun Jiang is a second-year MAPH-TLO student studying Japanese art history. With a background in studio art, Mew wrote a master’s thesis last year to examine the visuality and materiality of contemporary nihonga painter Matsui Fuyuko’s works, which inspired Mew’s own art practice. The thesis discussed how Matsui’s subject of anatomy, the process of painting, and the artist’s stylistic choice and narrative alter the meaning of the body and challenge the way of seeing the female body in art. Mew is interested in exploring the concept of seeing and the process of recognizing and transmitting pictorial information in varied visual and material forms under the influence of factors such as regional and intercultural communications.

Robert Burgos is a PhD student at the Department of History studying modern urban history in Japan. His research interests include: Twentieth-century community formation in Japanese cities among marginalized and minority groups; relationship of these processes to the broader development of shōsū minzoku (minority) identity and “Japanese” identity in Japan. Robert received his B.A. degree from Political Science & Asian Studies at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2012. He was a University of Chicago Urban Doctoral Fellow in 2018-2019 and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Curatorial Intern at the Smart Museum of Art in 2016-2017.

Michael J. Hatch, November 8

Michael J. Hatch, PhD, Assistant Professor of East Asian Art History, Department of Art, Miami University

“Epigraphy, Ruan Yuan, and the Haptic Imagination in Early Nineteenth-Century Chinese Painting”

Respondent: Meng Zhao, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, University of Chicago

Friday, November 8, 2019

4:30-6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Refreshments and a catered dinner will be provided


Abstract: The study of ancient cast and inscribed objects among early nineteenth-century literati brought together the senses of vision and touch. Scholars, officials, and artists obsessively documented texts and images found on degraded stone steles or oxidized bronzes. As they did so their brushwork increasingly emulated the effects of aging on these materials. This epigraphic aesthetic bridged media through visual and conceptual languages that were applied as readily to stone and metal inscriptions as they were to paintings and calligraphy. Scholars began to see in terms that were tactile.

Ruan Yuan (1764–1849), one of the early nineteenth-century’s most influential government officials and scholars, was central to this. His essays, “The Northern and Southern Schools of Calligraphy,” and “Northern Steles, Southern Letters,” provide the clearest articulation of the values at the core of the epigraphic aesthetic. Likewise, paintings, inkstones, and rubbings produced within his broad network of friends and aides attest to the manifestation of an early nineteenth-century haptic imagination across media.


This paper is excerpted from the speaker’s book manuscript, The Senses of Painting in China, 1790-1840, a sensory history that explores the appeals to embodied memory made in early nineteenth-century literati painting through allusions to touch, sound, and smell.

Liuzhou (1791—1858), Full-Form Rubbing of A Wild-Goose-Foot-Shaped Lamp, 47.8*26cm

This event is sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies with support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the United States Department of Education.

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou ( and Yin Wu (


Michael J. Hatch is an Assistant Professor of East Asian art at Miami University in Ohio. He earned a PhD in Art and Architecture from Princeton University in 2015. Prof. Hatch has held fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Princeton University Art Museum. Before graduate school, he worked in auctions and galleries, spending three years in Beijing at China Guardian Auctions and one year in New York at Kaikodo Gallery.


His research focuses on the interplay between sensuous, material, and intellectual modes of viewing Chinese painting, and ranges from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century. His current book manuscript is The Senses of Painting in China, 1790-1840. He has articles forthcoming in Archives of Asian Art and the Metropolitan Museum Journal.


Meng Zhao is a PhD candidate at the Department of Art History, University of Chicago. She studies Chinese art with a particular focus on painting practice of Middle Period China (ca. 800-1400). Meng received her BA in Chinese Language and Literature at Fudan University and her MA in History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia at SOAS University of London. Her master’s dissertation addressed a dramaturgical schema activated by the act of gazing frequently depicted in the Southern Song (1127-1279) court painting. Meng is particularly interested in the tension between the understanding of paintings as self-knowledge and the social dimensions of aesthetic mentalities, and in the sensuous credibility of pictorial representation of the middle period.

Alice Casalini, October 30

Wed, October 30, 2019, 4:30-6pm, CWAC 156 (*please note the different time)

Alice Casalini, PhD student, Department of Art History

“A Preliminary Survey of the Swat Valley and the Taxila Region”


In this talk, the presenter will cover materials from the Buddhist sites that she has personally visited during her recent survey trip in Pakistan. The presenter will focus on the Swat valley and on the region of Taxila, highlighting similarities and differences between the monastic establishments within the two areas, in terms of architecture and layout, visual program, and materiality. The ultimate goal is to draw out diagnostic features that would allow the identification of typologies of monastic establishments. Great emphasis will be given to spatial relationships among the different locales within monastic complexes and to the bodily experience of movement within such spaces, but also to locality and positionality within the broader geographical settings of Swat and Taxila.

Alice’s photo from the summer fieldtrip, 2019

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Alice Casalini received her BA and MA in Language and Civilisation of Asia and Mediterranean Africa from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. During her MA, she spent a total of four terms as an exchange student at the department of Archaeology and Museology of Peking University, where she specialized in Buddhist archaeology of Xinjiang. Her MA thesis focused on the Buddhist caves of the kingdom of Kucha. Her current interests lie in early Buddhist art and architecture of Gandhāra and Northern India.

Peter Chen, October 25

Friday, October 25, 4:30-6:30 pm, the Cochrane-Woods Art Center (CWAC) Room 156.

Peter Chen, MA student, Divinity School

“What does Chinese look like? Secularization as/and Nationalism in the case of Feng Zikai”

Respondent: Minori Egashira, PhD student, Department of Art History

A pre-circulated paper can be found at the link, pin: zikai.

Co-sponsored with Arts and Politics of East Asia (APEA) Workshop

This paper attempts to link broader theoretical discussions regarding secularization with the formation of nationalism and “Chinese-ness” in contemporary China. In particular, I focus here on the contemporary afterlife of Feng Zikai 豐子愷 (1898 – 1975) in the PRC through the China Dream campaign 中國夢posters and in Taiwan through religious murals at Foguangshan 佛光山. While the China Dream posters represent Feng Zikai as a secular figure, the murals at Foguangshan paint him as a Chinese Buddhist exemplar. Furthermore, while the China Dream campaign has preserved the ink and watercolor style of Feng Zikai’s original manhua (漫畫), Foguangshan has transformed his work into the ceramic religious murals, similar to those commonly found in popular religious temples in China and Taiwan. The paper attempts to interrogate under what structures and conditions these types of images make sense and accordingly, how they fit into current discourses surrounding what constitutes Chinese-ness. Thus, I first outline how figures such as Hu Shi 胡適 (1891-1962) first laid down theoretical and conceptual paradigms concerning secularism and Chinese-ness in order to understand how these frameworks still function today. In short, starting from Hu Shi’s writings on the history of Chinese philosophy and religion, a discourse connecting secularism and ‘Chinese-ness’ emerges, and that this intertwining of secularism and the narrative concerning the state of Chinese culture critically informs these two re-interpretations of Feng Zikai’s work in order to produce two contrasting visual depictions of ‘Chinese-ness.’

A popular China Dream poster with an image of Feng Zikai’s manhua.

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Peter Chen is a MA student at the Divinity School. His current research interests revolve around secularism, nationalism, visual culture, and the formation and differentiation of knowledge production in modern East Asia. Prior to coming to University of Chicago, he spent a year between Hangzhou and Beijing on a Fulbright grant, conducting research on Feng Zikai. Moving forward, he is interested in how the secular and the religious intersect with the formations of the social sciences and political theory in China, as seen through Buddhist historiography, late Qing political thought, Maoism, and Cold War propaganda posters.

Minori Egashira is a PhD student at the Department of Art History. She studies Japanese art history, with a focus on Meiji-period (1868–1912) sculpture. She is interested in how Japanese artworks were transferred to the West and their reception by both the West and Japan. She received her BA in art history from Wake Forest University in 2014, and her MA from Kyushu University in 2017. She completed her MA thesis on changing perceptions of Meiji-period artists during their lifetimes and the reception of their artworks. Specifically, she examined Buddhist wood sculptor and professor Takenouchi Hisakazu (1857–1916, alt. Takeuchi Kyūichi) and the lacunae of scholarship on him.

[Special Event] October 11, Jiayi Zhu, Sylvia Wu, Sizhao Yi

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are excited to share an upcoming special event hosted by VMPEA! On Next Friday, October 11 at 4:30-6:30pm in CWAC 156, Jiayi Zhu (EALC), Sylvia Wu and Sizhao Yi (Art History), three PhD students who participated at the UChicago/Getty Traveling Seminar in summer 2019 will share their observations and reflections on the trip. Let’s kick of the new academic year by joining their round-table style presentations of “Cave art from Xi’an to Dunhuang: Observations from the UChicago/Getty Traveling Seminar”! Apart from fresh ideas and visual materials, there will be plenty of refreshments and pizza.


Zhenru & Yin

UChicago/Getty Traveling Seminar visiting Mogao Cave 85, Dunhuang, China, August 2019. Photo by Li Yuxuan.

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou ( and Yin Wu (


Jiayi Zhu is PhD student at the East Asian Languages & Civilizations Department. Her area of study is Medieval China, Japan and Korea. Jiayi received her BA from Middlebury College (Anthropology and Environmental Studies) in 2014, and her MA from Columbia University (East Asian Buddhism) in 2017. Her research focuses on Esoteric Buddhism and Buddhist art in East Asia from 7th to 10th century.

Sylvia Wu is a PhD student in Islamic art and architecture. Her primary research interests revolve around the medieval Indian Ocean trade routes, a network connecting the coastal areas of East and South Asia, the Gulf, and East Africa. She seeks to foreground the dynamics of cultural activities seen in these regions that have been traditionally deemed outside of, or on the rims of the so-called Dar al-Islam. Through examining the artistic enterprises sponsored, executed, and used by individuals and communities with diverse backgrounds, Sylvia aspires to construe the transmission of knowledge within and beyond the network, which facilitated, or was formed by, the regional visual and material cultures. Sylvia received her MA from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University with a thesis on imperial Ottoman silks. She has interned in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sizhao Yi is a PhD student in East Asian art and material culture with a particular interest in objects from late imperial China. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong in 2016, and her MA from the University of Chicago in 2017. Her master’s thesis examined two embroidered jackets excavated from an imperial tomb of the Ming Dynasty, which she encountered during her internship at the textile conservation department in the Archeology Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Fall 2019 Schedule

All sessions unless otherwise noted will take place in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center (CWAC) Room 156 on Fridays, 4:30-6:30 pm.


October 11 Special Event

Jiayi Zhu, PhD student, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations;

Sylvia Wu and Sizhao Yi, PhD students, Department of Art History

“Cave art from Xi’an to Dunhuang: Observations from the UChicago/Getty Traveling Seminar”


October 25 Event Co-sponsored with APEA

Peter Chen, MA student, Divinity School

“Religious or Secular: Feng Zikai in the Formation of ‘China’”

Respondent: Minori Egashira, PhD student, Department of Art History

Paper will be pre-circulated one week in advance.


November 1 Cultural Event

Halloween Party with An Art Historical Theme

Theme: TBD; Time: evening, TBD; Venue: Professor Chelsea Foxwell’s


November 8

Michael J. Hatch, PhD, Assistant Professor of East Asian Art History, Department of Art, Miami University

“Epigraphy, Ruan Yuan, and the Haptic Imagination in Early Nineteenth-Century Chinese Painting”

Respondent: Meng Zhao, PhD candidate, Department of Art History


November 15

Mew Lingjun Jiang, MAPH-TLO’20 Art History

“Abstract Expressionism” and “Minimalism” in the 1600s-1800s Japan: Iconography and Semiotics in Chihōfuda Regional Japanese Playing Cards of the Latin-Italo/Portuguese Suitmarks”

Respondent: Robert Burgos, PhD student, Department of History

Paper will be pre-circulated one week in advance.


November 22

Jennifer D. Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“Image and Thought: Wu Guanzhong’s Abstract Expression, 1979-1983”

Respondent: Orianna Cacchione, PhD, Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Smart Museum of Art


We look forward to your attendance and hope you will share this with all who might also be interested in joining our community. Please direct questions and inquiries to Zhenru ( and Yin (


Wu Guanzhong, Song of Autumn, 2007

May 28th, Stanley Abe

Title: Imagining Sculpture
Abstract: In his forthcoming book, Imagining Sculpture, Stanley Abe sketches in narrative form a comparative history of sculpture in the West and China from the fourteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. The comparison is between a fundamental category of fine art in the West and the absence of its equivalent in China. There are few references in Chinese historical texts to renowned sculptors or masterpieces of sculpture. Compared to the lofty arts of the brush—painting and calligraphy—sculpture was considered unrefined and unworthy of praise. There was no great tradition of sculpture in China: no Classical origins, no Renaissance, no neo-classicism, no modern abstraction. The word “sculpture” was not translated into Chinese until the beginning of the twentieth century. Sculpture did not exist in China until modern times.
Of course statues, carvings and figural objects were produced in China for millennia. They were understood as icons, representations, decorations and effigies, and from the nineteenth century some were valued and collected as antiquities. But if figural objects from China are not sculpture, what are they? Is there another way to understand their value? Perhaps not as sculpture but as historical documents? And how might this question help us see the category of sculpture in a different light? These will be the topics of our discussion. A reading is recommended: Stanley Abe, “Sculpture: A Comparative History,” in Comparativism in Art History, ed. Jaś Elsner (London; New York: Routledge, 2017), 94–108).

Ta Ge Chung, Peking purchase

Prof. Pan Li, May 24th

Title: Tsuguharu Fujita’s “Marvelous creamy white”


Abstract: Japanese artist Tsuguharu Fujita (藤田嗣治, 1886—1968) is a member of the “Paris School” in the early 20th century. He created a kind of oil painting that properly blended water with oil. Fujita demonstrated that both oily and water-based paints can be applied on the same painting by drawing thin lines with ink on an ivory-like creamy white background. In Fujita’s technique, the canvas was mostly covered in creamy white, which was called “marvelous creamy white” by art critics in Paris. His unique oriental painting style drew tremendous admiration from Paris. Fujita was the first Asian artist to succeed in Europe, showing to Europeans the charm of “Japanese style oil painting”. Unlike other Japanese students who simply brought the oil painting techniques they learned in Europe back to Japan, Fujita instead immersed himself in the art revolution in Europe with his own inventions. Through the Fujita phenomenon, we can see the relationship between early 20th century Japanese, Chinese, and European art, and the European attitude towards accepting foreign influence.

Tsuguharu Fujita, “Nude Lady in the Bedroom”,

oil painting on canvas, 130cm ×195cm  1922

Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Paris Collection

[Special Joint Event with RAVE] Nancy P. Lin, May 8th

Dear all,
Wednesday, May 8th at 4:30 pm in CWAC 156.
Nancy P. Lin, a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History, will present her paper “Going Outdoors: Keepers of the Waters and Experiments in Site-Based Art Practice in the 1990s.” Dr. Mechtild Widrich, assistant professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will offer a response. There is no pre-circulated paper.
Yin Xiuzhen, Washing River, 1995, performance documentation, Chengdu. Source: Asia Art Archive.