Special Workshop Series by Wu Hung

Newly Unearthed Tang Tomb Murals of Simulated Shanshui Paintings — What Do They Tell Us?



Details of the landscape mural in the tomb of Han Xiu 韩休 (740), photo by Wu Hung.


The talk will last about 45 min – 1 hour, with about 1 hour afterwards for Q&A moderated by ZOU Yifan (persons in need of assistance please contact yifanzou@uchicago.edu)


Part 1: Oct 30 (Friday), 5 pm – 7 pm (CDT)

Registration link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5bt1KsvvSJ-U0TvcmTDekA

Part 2: Nov 5 (Thursday), 5 pm – 7 pm (CST) *please note CDT to CST transition

Registration link for Part 2: https://uchicago.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_W6mEBsRPTDa9utJ9obbtow 

Aurelia Campbell, Oct 7

Aurelia Campbell (Associate Professor, Art, Art History, and Film Faculty, Boston College)

“Tibetan Stupa as Protective Force in Early Ming Burials”

Discussant: Wei-Cheng Lin (Associate Professor of Art History and the College, Department of Art History)

Wednesday, Oct 7

 4:45-6:45 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)



This paper focuses on an unusual early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) brick tomb in Mayishan, Wangcheng County, Hunan. The tomb belongs to a woman named Zhang Miaoshou, who served as the wet nurse of Prince Gu, nineteenth son of the Ming founder, Zhu Yuanzhang. Among the numerous Buddhist artifacts unearthed from the tomb, the most intriguing is a large stone reliquary in the shape of a Tibetan-style stupa, which holds dozens of Buddhist and Daoist scriptures. What was it doing there? By connecting the stupa to a host of earlier material evidence incorporating the written word, this paper argues that the stupa and its contents ultimately served apotropaic and salvific functions. It furthermore makes a case for the significance of the Tibetan-style stupa as a symbol of protection in the post-Mongol world.

Zoom Registration Link:



Aurelia Campbell is Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Film at Boston College. Her research centers on the architecture and material culture of the Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) periods in China. Campbell’s first book, What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming (University of Washington Press, 2020) examines the construction projects of the famous Yongle emperor to consider how imperial ideology is given form in built space. Addressing how and why his buildings were constructed, the book expands our understanding of “imperial Chinese architecture” as a building typology. Her second book, in progress, explores the relationship between Buddhism and mortuary culture in the Ming and Qing periods. The book will consider Buddhist funerary art and architecture from a large swath of society—including emperors, empresses, princes, eunuchs, monks, and aristocrats—to better understand how conceptions of the afterlife differed according to one’s position in life. The book aims to fill a gap in scholarship on Chinese tombs after the Yuan dynasty. Her research has been supported through grants and fellowships from Millard Meiss Publication Fund, James Geiss Foundation, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Asian Cultural Council, and Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, among others.


Wei-Cheng Lin is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture, with a focus on medieval period, and has published on both Buddhist and funeral art and architecture of medieval China. His first book, Building a Sacred Mountain: Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, was published in 2014 with the University of Washington Press. He has also written on topics related to traditional architecture in modern China. Lin is currently working on two book projects: Performative Architecture of China, explores architecture’s performative potential through history and the meanings enacted through such architectural performance. Necessarily Incomplete: Fragments of Chinese Artifacts investigate fragments of Chinese artifacts, as well as the cultural practices they solicited and engaged, to locate their agentic power in generating the multivalent significance of those artifacts, otherwise undetectable or overlooked.

May 31, Yunfei Shao

Thursday, May 31,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Tourist Guide at Hand and on Display: Producing “Route Maps” of West Lake in late Imperial China

Yunfei Shao
Department of Art History, University of Chicago

This paper examines a unique type of images of West Lake (Xihu) produced for tourists during the Ming-Qing period. In this paper, I will propose that this format of depicting West Lake could function as route maps for both virtual and actual touring. Before the emergence of this type of images, West Lake was represented in two main formats: the Ten Scenes and the Map-like formats. With the tourist boom in mid-to-late Ming Dynasty and the imperial tours of Qing emperors, this new format took shape and developed into a third major prototype in representing West Lake. Several distinct features make this format stand out as a unique case in landscape painting. First, the conversion from oval-shaped lake to long horizontal handscroll presents an example of how the constantly changing perspective transforms what is seen to what is depicted; second, the positive correlation between the proportioned length of each section in the scroll to that of actual site suggest an intention to mimic real life journey; third, the starting points and destinations within these “map-like” scrolls demonstrate a curated route designed for specific groups of tourists.

Thursday, May 31,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

May 25, Jue Hou

Friday, May 25,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Skin Deep: Corporeography from Kafka to Qiu Zhijie

Jue Hou
Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

(Left) Martin Senn, Franz Kafka: Der Eigentümliche Apparataus der Erzählung “In der Strafkolonie.” [Franz Kafka: The Peculiar Apparatus from the Story “In the Penal Colony.”]
(Right) Qiu Zhijie, 紋身2 [Tattoo II]

A comparative study of corporeal inscriptions, this paper interrogates the intersection of language, death, and the surface/depth of the body. Taking as my departure a recent medical case in which an unconscious patient’s tattooed request to withhold emergency care has spurred much debate, I intend to approach bodily writings as sites where language, communication, and mortality conjoin and contest with each other. Revisiting the famous debate between Jacques Derrida and John Searle over the nature of the signature, I shall seek to explore the materiality of writing through engaging a variety of texts and works of art, including Paul de Man’s writing on Wordsworth’s reflections upon epitaphs, Franz Kafka’s short story, “In the Penal Colony,” as well as representations of the skin in works of contemporary Chinese art such as Xu Bing’s A Case Study of Transference 一個轉換案例的研究, Zhang Huan’s Family Tree 家譜, and Qiu Zhijie’s Tattoo series 紋身系列. What is defacement? What can/do tattoos do? What are the limitations of the mind/body dualism, conceived through a phenomenology of the marked skin? What do corporeographies, understood as a kind of border writing that inhabits the fleshy interface, tell us about the surface/depth model of subjectivity? These are among questions I seek to address.

Friday, May 25,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

May 17, Wei Jianpeng

Thursday, May 17,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Please note: This workshop will be conducted in Chinese

敦煌维摩诘经变的结构性演变 [Structural Evolution of Vimalakirti Sutra Illustration in Dunhuang]

魏健鹏,四川大学考古系博士生,2017-2018 学年东亚艺术中心访问学生
Wei Jianpeng, Doctoral student, Department of Archaeology, Sichuan University | Visiting student, Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago


Thursday, May 17,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

May 10, Yin WU

Thursday, May 10,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Materiality, Text, and Image in the Chinese Version of The Rules for Reciting the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng)

Yin WU 
Department of Art History, University of Chicago

“The Annunciation,” an image from Rules for Reciting the Rosary (Song nianzhu guicheng 诵念珠规程), The Getty Research Institute.

This paper examines an illustrated manual entitled Song nianzhu guicheng 诵念珠规程 (Rules for Reciting the Rosary, hereafter referred to as Guicheng), published in Nanjing, China in 1619. The Chinese version was translated by Portuguese Jesuit João da Rocha (1583-1623) from Rosary. Instead of simply transplanting a Western book, it reveals a transformation at the point of convergence between Western religion, values, traditions, and Chinese formulas for book printing. Most previous studies focus on its fusion of Western artistic style and Chinese pictorial conventions, often looking at images individually. This paper will demonstrate multiple-layers of transformation, including its materiality, format, reading procedure, text and image. Studying the book as a whole, this paper will reveal the missionaries’ meticulous considerations of how a Western religious book can be transformed and reinvented into a Chinese book that is understandable and functional to Chinese converts.

Thursday, May 10,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

May 1, Corey Byrnes

Tuesday, May 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 157  (Please note the special time, location, and format)

Defining the Chinese Landscape of Desolation in Teaching and Research

Corey Byrnes
Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Literature in the Asian Languages and Cultures Department, Northwestern University

Discussant: Pao-chen Tang, PhD Student, Cinema and Media Studies
Co-sponsored with the Art & Politics of East Asia Workshop

Duan Jianyu, Beautiful Dream #7, 2008

VMPEA and APEA is pleased to present this special session, which will follow a unique format. Professor Byrnes will present an essay in progress as well as two related syllabi. These materials are pre-circulated in the link included here or below.  The workshop discussion will be an opportunity not only to offer feedback on the essay, but also to address the challenges of combining research and teaching and designing a syllabus based upon one’s research interests. We will be providing catered dinner. The abstract is as follows:

This joint APEA-VMPEA workshop will center on three related documents: an essay in progress entitled “Landscapes of Desolation” and two syllabi for a course with the same name. The essay is part of a broader attempt to reconsider the role of landscape and “tradition” in the context of environmentally conscious visual and literary culture representing Mainland China (mostly). In general, I am interested in how landscape has come to function as both a privileged way to represent environmental problems in China and also a practical ecocritical mode designed to move people and change behaviors. More specifically, in this essay I consider how specific art historical and cultural influences are used in three interconnected “modes” (the documentary, the trompe l’oeil and the fantastical) of what I am calling the “landscape of desolation” to support this practical ecocritical function. The essay extends some of the ideas I explore in my forthcoming book, Fixing Landscape: A Techno-Poetic History of China’s Three Gorges (Columbia, December 2018), but it emerges more directly from my experiences teaching an upper division seminar on literary and visual responses to environmental degradation in China and Taiwan. For the seminar meeting, I look forward to discussing both the article and also my experience in moving between teaching and researching. As you will see, there is significant overlap between the course materials and the primary and secondary sources I use in the article. The earliest version of this article predates these courses, though the current version really emerged out of my experiences teaching this seminar in the winter of 2016 and again in the winter of 2018.

The paper is available directly below, or at this link. If you have not received the password, or have questions about accessibility, please feel free to contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu).

This event is sponsored by the Committee on Chinese Studies at the Center for East Asian Studies

Tuesday, May 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 157

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

March 9, Deng Fei

Friday, March 9,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 152

Popularized Landscapes: Pictures of Landscape in Tombs in Yuan China (1271—1368)

Professor Deng Fei

Associate Professor, National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University | Visiting Scholar, Harvard-Yenching Institute

Landscape painting on the north wall in Feng Daozhen’s tomb (1265) found in Datong, Shanxi

Landscape painting is generally recognized as the major category within China’s painting tradition. The visual representation of nature not only appears in art from above the ground, but also in tomb decorations under the earth. Many tombs, which depict images of landscape on their interior walls, have been found in North China during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This talk will address these materials and answer the following question: why were these pictures chosen to surround the deceased? The study will investigate various pictorial contents of the landscape paintings as well as multiple roles and meanings they assumed. By considering landscape not simply as an object to be seen, but as an instrument of cultural force, I hope to probe the cultural, social, and religious environments in which the landscape motifs were developed.

Friday, March 9,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 152

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

Feb. 1, Zhiyan Yang

Thursday, February 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 152  (Please note the special day and time)

When Recent Past Became New History: Learning from a Historical Survey (1987-1991) of Modern Architecture in China

Zhiyan Yang

Department of Art History, University of Chicago

”International Bridge in Tientsin,” an index label from The Architectural Heritage of Modern China: Tianjin中国近代建築総覧総覧:天津篇 (1989)

From 1987 to 1991, a team comprised of both Chinese and Japanese architectural historians collaborated to survey the existing architecture built in between 1840s and 1940s among eighteen Chinese cities and compiled an extensive list of data. Known as the Comprehensive Study of Modern Architecture in China 中国近代建筑总览, the project has reinvigorated the field and remained foundational to this day. I argue that it is unique not only as a corpus of documentation, but also as a historic event in itself. The nature of the collaboration cultivated a changing attitude towards China’s architectural heritages, revealing negotiations between different cultural, linguistic, and historiographical traditions. By unfolding the processes of knowledge production, comparing publications from both the Chinese and Japanese sides, and questioning the historical connotations and intricacies behind them, I hope to shed new light on how the Chinese architectural world understood and adapted to the new challenges by reconsidering its recent architectural past as a critical site for modernization. Analyzing both text and image through a comparative perspective, I will also explain the project against background of a globalizing contemporary architectural culture in the 1980s and explore why this particular history has had a broader intellectual and social impact on the entire region of East Asia.

Thursday, February 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 152

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)