Anthony Stott, Nov 18

Please join us tomorrow for the fourth VMPEA workshop of this quarter, featuring:

Anthony Stott

PhD Candidate, East Asian Languages & Civilizations and Comparative Literature, UChicago

“Context After the End of Monumental Public Space: Toward an Archipelagic Reimagining of Urban Resistance in the Theory and Design of Isozaki Arata”

Discussant: Zhiyan Yang

PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Friday, November 18, 2022

6:00–8:00 pm CT, Zoom

Zoom Link: 

Please note the unusual date and time. This is a remote event.

**There are pre-circulated paper and slides for this workshop. You can find them in the other post with password “context”.

★Co-Sponsored by Art & Politics of East Asia workshop★


Jacques Derrida questioning Isozaki Arata and Asada Akira after Isozaki and Asada’s joint-presentation at the Anyone conference on May 11, 1991.



The expulsion of protestors from Shinjuku Station West Exit Plaza in 1969 conventionally marks the end of monumental public space as a site for urban protests in Japan. Departing from this moment, this chapter explores the wanderings of the architect and theorist Isozaki Arata (1931–) in search of new sites for urban resistance. Isozaki builds on his earlier work on the environment and the cybernetic city to theorize this urban resistance as an alternative context that constructively short circuits the urban network, and he terms this “extra-context.” Putting into dialogue scholarship from across media studies, architectural theory, and urban history, I contend that Isozaki adopts extra-context not only to disrupt the unrestrained and homogenizing flows of information networks under globalization but also to oppose a transparency between built space and the environment as epitomized in imperialist architectural projects of the interwar period. Drawing on Isozaki’s writings in “Japanese-ness” in Architecture (Kenchiku ni okeru “nihonteki na mono,” 2003; first partially serialized in Critical Space between 1998 and 2000) and especially his extensive collaborations with the critic Asada Akira (1957–), I furthermore show how tracing Isozaki’s design via extra-context discloses a shift in his approach—from the eclectic citation of global forms in projects of the 1980s like Tsukuba Center, to the archipelagically derived performance halls of the 1990s. I thus aim to expand the critical possibilities of Isozaki’s work by attending to how the tethering of extra-context to the archipelagic resonates with and defies ecocriticism and other related discourses that explore the relation between ocean and media.



Anthony Stott is a PhD candidate in East Asian Languages & Civilizations and Comparative Literature who specializes in contemporary Japanese literature, media, and thought. His dissertation considers formations of artists and intellectuals around the preeminent Japanese-language journal of theory and criticism Critical Space (Hihyō kūkan, 1991–2002) through the lens of critique and its limits.

Zhiyan Yang is a doctoral candidate specializing in the history of modern and contemporary East Asian Architecture. He is currently completing a dissertation on post-socialist architecture through the lenses of architectural media and cultural production, including exhibitions, journals, history surveys and its intersection with contemporary visual culture and art. He received his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013 and MA from the University of Chicago in 2015. Zhiyan served as a researcher and overseas liaison of the Contemporary Chinese Art Yearbook Project spearheaded by Peking University and the University of Chicago since 2015. He has also previously interned at Xu Bing Studio in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Xu Jin, May 6

Speaker: Xu Jin ( Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian Studies, Vassar College)

“Comparing Acts, Matching Images: Filial Sons and Reclusive Sages on the Funerary Couch of a Sogdian Immigrant in 6th-Century China”

May 6th, 2022 (Friday)

4:30 – 6:30 pm CT. Hybrid (In-person at CWAC 152 + livestream via Zoom)

※ Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting if you would like to attend remotely. password: sogdian56

(Liu Ling, One of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, Di Yu Couch. Eastern Wei Dynasty. Stone couch from Anyang, Henan Province. Shenzhen Museum)


Filial sons and reclusive sages (Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove and Rong Qiqi) were among the most esteemed figural subjects in Chinese art. They also appear on the stone funerary couch of Di Yu 翟育 (?-538), a Sogdian diplomat who immigrated to North China in the early sixth century. The Di Yu couch is the earliest known of over ten sarcophagi made for Sogdian leaders active in sixth-century China. This talk demonstrates how the quintessential Chinese subjects were selectively adopted and meticulously modified to address the Sogdian family’s life experiences. Moreover, I argue that Sogdian immigrants employed the images of reclusive sages to reconcile their Central Asian origin with the art and culture of native Chinese elites.


Xu Jin is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian studies at Vassar College. He received his PhD in art history at the University of Chicago. His research has been focusing on religious and cultural exchanges on the Silk Road as reflected in Chinese art during the 6th and 7th centuries. His publications appear in the Burlington Magazine, the Journal of Asian Studies, and Journal of National Museum of China. Currently he is writing a book manuscript titled “Beyond Boundaries: Sogdian Sarcophagi and the Art of An Immigrant Community in 6th Century China”.

Yan Yang, April 20

The recording of this event could be found HERE

Speaker: Yan Yang 

(Assistant Professor of Art History, Music and Art, Borough of Manhattan Community College CUNY)

“Tracing the Formation of a National Style: Yamato-e from World Fairs to Wartimes”

Discussant: Minori Egashira (PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago)

April 20th, 2022 (Wednesday), 4:45 – 6:45 pm CT, Remotely via Zoom 

Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting. The password to this zoom session is “yamatoe

Tale of Genji Picture Scroll, Sekiya Chapter. 12th century. Tokugawa Art Museum

Abstract: How does a national style come into existence? Does it form through a consensus by a panel of experts or in some other way? Although yamato-e has been characterized as a national style of Japanese art since the 1930s by Japanese art historians, what led to this codification? This presentation examines primary sources produced before the 1930s, from government-sponsored exhibitions intended to teach a foreign audience about Japanese culture at World Fairs, to Japanese texts about surviving works of art that are celebrated as extant examples of yamato-e such as the Tale of Genji Picture Scrolls, in order to trace the formation of yamato-e as the pictorial embodiment of the Japanese national style.


Yan Yang received her B.A and Ph.D degrees from Yale University. After teaching at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and at Kyushu University in Japan, she is currently at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. Her primary field of interest in Japanese art historiography and epistemology. She has published on the 20th-century codification of the concept of Japanese art known as yamato-e. This presentation is an extension of a larger project that explores the formation of yamato-e before the 20th century.

Minori Egashira is a PhD candidate studying under Dr. Chelsea Foxwell at The University of Chicago. Her research focuses on Meiji-period (1868–1912) sculpture, and Japan’s artistic interactions with the world in modern and contemporary times. Her broader interests include East Asian sculptural art and other three-dimensional objects, World Fairs, and investigating non-orthodox narratives of Japanese art history.

Sooa Im McCormick, June 2

Speaker: Sooa Im McCormick (Curator of Korean Art, Cleveland Museum)

Korean Paper, a Trendy Item in Late Ming Literati Circle

Discussant: Yoon-Jee Choi (PhD student, Department of Art History)

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021
4:45 – 6:45 pm CST, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)



Any wars result in, not to mention significant loss of life, economic destruction, and human dislocation, but also opportunities for unexpected cultural and material transfers. Korean papers of variety including Mirror Surface Paper 鏡面紙, White Silky Paper 白綿紙 were among stable tributary gifts to the Ming imperial court, but during the Japanese invasion (1592-1598) they were increasingly demanded than before. These imported Korean papers were not exclusively used in the imperial court, but soon gained a new life as a trendy commodity when it entered the circle of leading literati artists such as Dong Qichang.

By locating Korean paper in the material world of late Ming-period literati artists, this research attempts to uncover how gift-exchange in a tributary system between China and Korea fashioned new artistic identities of Korean paper, to examine what materialistic features of Korean paper led late Ming artists to involve it in their artistic endeavors, such as the case of Dong Qichang’s River and Mountains on a Clear Autumn Day 江山秋霽圖 in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and finally to highlight the role of Korean imports in Chinese visual and material culture.
Dong Qichang 董其昌, River and Mountains on a Clear Autumn Day 江山秋霽圖 (1624–27), Handscroll: Ink on Korean paper, Painting only: 38.4 x 136.8 cm, The Cleveland Museum of Art.


Zoom Registration Link:

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Dr. Sooa Im McCormick is Curator of Korean Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She holds a PhD from the University of Kansas and a Master’s degree from Rutgers University. Recently, she curated the exhibitions Interpretation of Materiality: Gold (4/30/2021-10/24/2021), as well as Gold Needles: Korean Embroidery Arts (3/8/2020-10/25/2020). While pursuing her curatorial career, Dr. McCormick remains active as a cutting-edge scholar. Her publications include “Re-Reading the Imagery of Tilling and Weaving of Eighteenth-Century Korean Genre Painting in the Context of the Little Ice Age,” in Anthology of Mountains and Rivers (without) End: Eco-Art History in Asia (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019) and “The Politics of Frugality: Environmental Crisis and Eighteenth-Century Korean Visual Culture,” in Forces of Nature (Cornell University Press, 2022).


Yoon-Jee Choi is a PhD student whose research revolves around material culture and inter-regional influence within East Asian art history, particularly concentrating on the latter half of Joseon Dynasty and modern Korean art history. She received her BA in Division of International Studies and History of Art from Ewha Womans University. She has completed her coursework for her MA in History of Art and is currently working on her thesis on Korean monkey paintings during the late Joseon Dynasty. She has interned for the National Museum of Korea and worked as a research assistant for the Asian Museum Institute in Seoul. Her current interests lie in Korean paintings that reflect diverse foreign interactions during the late 19th century.

RAVE + VMPEA | QP Symposium Part One and Two: May 12 and 19

Speakers (PhD Students, Art History Department):

Part One (May 12th, 2021):

Jenny Harris, “Worlds of Wire: Ruth Asawa’s Sculpture” (4:45 – 5:15 PM)

Li Jiang, “Replicating Death: The Gold Funerary Mask of Princess of the State of Chen (1018)” (5:15 – 5:45 PM)

Stephanie Strother, “‘Fashionable Things’: The Designs and Designers of the Atelier Martine” (5:45 – 6:15 PM)

*Overall discussion is from 6:15 – 6:45 PM

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

4:45 – 6:45 pm CST, Zoom Registration Link (resister here)


Part Two (May 19th, 2021):

Lucien Sun, “A Print in Flux: Rethinking the Print of Guan Yu from Khara-Khoto” (4:45 – 5:15 PM)

Lex Ladge, “Hieronian Impositions: Space and Policy in 3rd Century BCE Syracuse” (5:15 – 5:45 PM)

Adriana Obiols Roca, “Mesótica II: Central American Art After ‘Latin America’” (5:45 – 6:15 PM)

* Overall discussion is from 6:15 – 6:45 PM

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

4:45 – 6:45 pm CST, Zoom Registration Link (resister here)


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting (Recently, Zoom confirmations also tend to be categorized as Spam. Please also check your spam box for the confirmation email.).



Jenny Harris is a Ph.D. student focusing on 20th-century art. Her research interests include performance, intersections of dance and visual arts, and the status of decoration and craft in postwar American art. Prior to arriving at the University, she worked in The Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Painting and Sculpture where most recently she participated in the reinstallation of the collection galleries and co-organized the exhibition The Shape of Shape, Artist’s Choice: Amy Sillman (2019, with Michelle Kuo). She has also contributed to the exhibitions The Long Run (2017-18), Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends (2017), and One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North (2015). Jenny graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Art History in 2012.

Li Jiang is a Ph.D. student of East Asian art history, focusing primarily on funerary art in ancient and early medieval China. Li Jiang received her MA from the University of Chicago in 2018. Her thesis examined the fragments of a lacquer screen from an elite burial of the Northern Wei dynasty. Her current research involves the material cultural and inter-regional issues in northeast Asian tomb arts from the fourth to seventh centuries.

Stephanie Strother is a Ph.D. student focusing on art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her research interests include the relationship between art and craft at the turn of the century, popular reception and consumption, and global circuits of visual and material culture. She earned a BA from Carleton College in 2010 and an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2017. From 2017 to 2019 she was the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies Graduate Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago. In this role she authored curatorial entries and an essay for a digital catalogue on the museum’s collection of paintings and drawings by James McNeill Whistler, which was published in 2020.

Lucien Sun is a Ph.D. student of East Asian visual and material culture at the University of Chicago. His current research interests lie broadly in Chinese art from the tenth to seventeenth century, especially the visual and material culture in northern China during the Jin–Yuan periods and its exchange with Central and West Asia. He recently co-wrote with the COSI Rhoades Curatorial Intern Yang Zhiyan a blog article for the Art Institute of Chicago titled “A Seamless Painting Simply Does Not Exist” that demonstrates how paper seams of a Yuan dynasty handscroll may shed new light on the painting’s composition, material medium, and conservation history. He has also written about images of filial piety stories at tombs in north China during the Yuan period. He received his BA at Fudan University, Shanghai.

Lex Ladge is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Art History. She studies Greek and Roman art and architecture, with a focus on urbanism and spatial experiences in the Hellenistic and Imperial Roman periods.

Adriana Obiols Roca is a Ph.D. student studying modern art of Latin America. Her research focuses on Central American art from the second half of the twentieth century. Adriana holds an MA in art history from Tulane University (2019) and a BA in English Literature from Swarthmore College (2016). Her MA thesis, “‘Para el ala y para el vuelo’: Photography and Nation in Revista Alero”, centered on the interaction between photography and student nationalism in 1970s Guatemala.

Wang Lianming, May 7

Speaker: Wang Lianming (Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History, Heidelberg University)

Revisiting the Jesuit Gardens in Eighteenth-Century Beijing

Discussant: Yin Wu (PhD candidate, Art History, The University of Chicago)

May 7th (Friday), 2021

12-2pm CDT, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)


In the early modern world, the Jesuit gardens arguably became a transcultural phenomenon mate-rializing the transfer of elite knowledge, culture, and ideas. Drawing on a variety of recently un-covered materials from Paris and St. Petersburg, this talk discusses the crucial role of the Beijing Jesuit gardens played in the early-modern dynamics of botanical and horticultural practices. This is achieved by examining their functions as walk-in spaces of transcultural experience, experi-mental spaces of artistic entanglements, and places of fruitful encounters of knowledge. These garden sites, as I will argue, were the missing link between European Renaissance culture and knowledge, Qing court art, and collecting practices of the European Jesuit patrons.

The panoramic view of the Jesuit Beitang residence and its garden space, color on paper, ca. 1830/31. St. Petersburg, Kunstkamera – Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, inventory number 667-261.


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Wang Lianming is an Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History at Heidelberg University. His areas of research include early-modern global encounters of arts and culture and artistic practices and materiality related to transterritorial animals. Wang has taught at the University of Würzburg and was a Postdoc Fellow (2018/19) of the research group “Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices” at the Berlin-based Forum Transregional Studies, led by the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Society. Wang has organized many workshops and conferences related to Sino-European exchanges, including The Jesuit Legacies: Images, Visuality, and Cosmopolitanism in Qing China (chief organizer, 2015), Reframing Chinese Objects: Practices of Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, 1400-1800 (co-organizer, 2018), and Before the Silk Road: Eurasian Interactions in the First Millennium BC (chief-organizer, 2019). He was awarded the Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Prize by the Heidelberg University in 2018, and the Academy Prize by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2021.


Yin Wu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History. Her research focuses on the cross-cultural exchange of objects between China and the West at the Qianlong Emperor’s court in the 18th century, exploring how the Western objects were transformed into new visual and material forms and create new political and cultural meanings in the Qing empire.



Zhenru Zhou, Apr 21st

The VMPEA Workshop is pleased to welcome Zhenru Zhou (PhD candidate, Art History) as our next speaker to share her project “Anarchitectonic pagoda images from late-medieval Dunhuang.” We are also very happy to have Dr. Katherine Tsiang (Associate Director, Center for the Art of East Asia) serving as the discussant.

Please watch the Panopto Presentation in advance to join the Zoom session:


Please note this VMPEA session will take a slightly different format and start at a different time:

Wednesday, Apr 21st, 2021

5:30-6:45 pm CDT,

Zoom session for response and questions only (please find the registration link below)


Among the numerous portable artifacts found at the Dunhuang Caves, some are particularly indicative of the production of the unportable art and architecture, namely, the decorated Buddhist cave-temple. While the Dunhuang artists’ sketches and stencils in general have been associated with figural representations as seen in wall paintings and mandalic designs for ceilings or altars, it remains understudied how the cave architecture has been designed, conceptualized, and implemented. In response to the question, this paper explores a curious design trend of de-emphasizing the architectonic construct of an architectural space, which is evident in portable paintings, reliquaries, mural paintings and repaintings, caves, and even cave groups in late-medieval Dunhuang. In particular, the paper juxtaposes a few little-studied drawings originally deposited in the Dunhuang Library Cave with the repainted murals that later concealed the cave to unveil the dialectic relationship between image-making and cave-making. In addition, the study of cross-media artistic practices at Dunhuang will shed new light on a paradigm shift in visualizing the Buddhist Pure Lands in northwest China of the 10-11th centuries.

Picture of Many Sons Pagoda, ink on paper, 41.6 x 28 cm, 9th-10th century CE. Deposited in Mogao Cave 17, Dunhuang, China, now in the National Museum, New Delhi, India.

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Zhenru Zhou studies Buddhist art and architecture in China and along the Silk Roads, with a focus on cave-temples in Northwest China. She received an M. Arch degree from Princeton University in 2016, and another M. Arch and a B. Arch degree from Tsinghua University (China). Her dissertation project, titled “Between the Virtual and the Real: A New Architecture of the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, China) in 781-1036 CE,” explores the complexity of cave architecture regarding its hybrid materiality and visuality, construction and reconstruction over time.

Katherine R. Tsiang is a scholar of Chinese art of the Medieval Period, a period of extensive multicultural interaction during which the northern part of China was controlled predominantly by non-Han Chinese rulers and Buddhism, initially introduced from India and Central Asia, became the predominant religion. Her recent research has focused on the art and visual culture of Chinese tombs and Buddhist cave shrines and deals with the transformative impact of multicultural, social, religious, and funerary ideologies on artistic production of the fifth through eighth centuries.

Boyoung Chang, APR 9

Speaker: Boyoung Chang (Postdoctoral Fellow East Asian Art, Department of Art History

Faraway, so close: North Korea in Contemporary Visual Culture

Discussant: Saena Ryu Dozier (Recent graduate; PhD in Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

Friday, April 9th, 2021

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



What is the perception of North Korea of the rest of the world and how has it been mediated through visual arts? Are there alternative ways to represent the country without othering it? This research problematizes the stereotyped representations of North Korea and suggests alternative ways to understand North Korea through the visual arts. The national division caused two Koreas to show different paths to development, and the North has been isolated as one of the few communist countries in the world. With the demise of the international Cold War, it has been further stigmatized and ridiculed, mostly in the West. Either they satirize the dictatorial rule of North Korea or supposedly ‘look into’ the hermit kingdom, I argue, what the images of North Korea eventually reveal is the inaccessibility to the country. On the contrary to the assumption of providing a penetrating view of the country, this paper also discusses, some contemporary Korean artists bring the impossibility of fully experiencing the other Korea to the fore and visualize the mediated experience of the country. By incorporating their proxy experience of the North, their works anchor North Korea in history and in relation to South Korea, instead of accentuating its otherness and isolation from the rest of the world.

João Rocha, Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things (2010-)


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Dr. Boyoung Chang is a postdoctoral researcher in the Center of the Art of East Asia in the Department of Art History at The University of Chicago. Her research focuses on contemporary Korean photography. She is interested in how the history of Korean photography intertwines with the nation’s dynamic modern and contemporary history. Her research interests also include several topics in global photography and contemporary Asian art, such as the aftermath of World War II, the ramification of the cold war, globalization, and cultural identity.

Chang has published such articles as “Post-Trauma: How contemporary Korean photography reconstructs political history of Korea” in the Korean Bulletin of Art History and is now working on a book project that addresses the history of Korean photography from the mid-20th century to the present day, with a particular interest in the socio-political landscapes around artistic productions.


Dr. Saena Dozier received her PhD in Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2020.  She was a Korea Foundation research fellow and a Diversity Predoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.  Dr. Dozier’s expertise is in Korean culture and media with an emphasis on Korean cinema.

She published “Coming Home: Finding Our Space of Innocence Through Sagŭk Films” in the International Journal of Korean History. Her upcoming article “Ever-Evolving Nostalgia: A Quest for Innocence in Sagŭk Films” will appear on Écrans de nostalgie, Special Issue of Cinémas.

Melissa McCormick, MAR 12

Speaker: Professor Melissa McCormick (Professor of Japanese Art and Culture, Harvard University)

Calligraphy and Haptic Poetics in the Art of Ōtagaki Rengetsu”

Discussant: Professor Chelsea Foxwell (Associate Professor of Art History and the College, The University of Chicago)

Friday, March 12th, 2021

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



The early modern Japanese nun-artist, Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875), left nearly one thousand waka poems, a number multiplied by their repeated inscription on all manner of surfaces, from pottery to poem sheets to hanging scrolls with accompanying paintings. This vast body of poetic work speaks to Rengetsu’s use of the ancient thirty-one syllable form as her primary mode of creative expression and intellectual ordering of the world. The vitality and social immediacy of the nun’s poetry open up onto a vibrant world of waka, and its theorization in the Tokugawa period, countering notions of waka’s stagnation since the medieval period, when it gave way to forms such as renga, and subsequently haikai in the early modern era. Although Rengetsu left no poetic treatises or theoretical texts of her own, her vast oeuvre of verses and inscribed art works in their totality amount to a waka poetics of practice that rewards analysis for its richness and complexity of allusion, subject position, and medium specificity.

This talk offers a meditation on the embodied qualities of Rengetsu’s work, from her use of a subject position in which the presence of the poet seems to dominate, to the haptic presentation of her waka calligraphy incised into her pottery. It then turns to an analysis of one of Rengetsu’s most famous poems, instantiated in word and image, to show the multiplicity of poetic subject positions she employs, as well as, ultimately, an embodied self rhetorically undermined.



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Professor Melissa McCormick is the Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at Harvard University, earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan (1990) and her Ph.D. in Japanese Art History from Princeton University (2000). Before moving to Harvard, she was the Atsumi Assistant Professor of Japanese Art at Columbia University (2000-05) in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. Much of her research focuses on the relationship of art and literature, as well as forms of visual storytelling, and their integration with social and intellectual history. Her first book, Tosa Mitsunobu and the Small Scroll in Medieval Japan (University of Washington, 2009), argued for the emergence of a new picto-literary genre around the fifteenth century, and it used a methodology of envisioning the intellectual horizons of real or hypothetical viewers in the circle of the artist Tosa Mitsunobu and the scholar-courtier Sanjōnishi Sanetaka.

Several articles reconstruct the interpretive communities of female readers, writers, and artists in the late medieval period by focusing on ink-line (hakubyō) narrative paintings, which Professor McCormick argues, functioned as an alternative space for creative expression from a female gendered subject position. Her ongoing work on the eleventh-century narrative The Tale of Genji has resulted in over a dozen publications in both English and Japanese. Her research on the Genji Album in the Harvard Art Museums was featured on an NHK documentary (2008), and became the basis for her book, The Tale of Genji: A Visual Companion (Princeton University Press, 2018), which provides fifty-four essays on each chapter of the tale. In 2019 she guest curated the international loan exhibition The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Professor Chelsea Foxwell is the Associate Professor of Art History and the College at The University of Chicago. Her scholarship ranges from the medieval through modern periods of Japanese art with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting: Kano Hōgai and the Search for Images (2015). In 2012 she co-curated the exhibition Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints with Anne Leonard at the Smart Museum of Art.

Her work focuses on Japan’s artistic interactions with the rest of East Asia and beyond, nihonga and yōga (Japanese oil painting); “export art” and the world’s fairs; practices of image circulation, exhibition, and display; and the relationship between image-making and the kabuki theater.

A member of the Committee on Japanese Studies and the Center for the Art of East Asia, she is a contributor to the Digital Scrolling Paintings and the Reading Kuzushiji projects.

Meng Zhao, Feb 10

Meng Zhao (PhD candidate, Department of Art History)

“Crafting Sensuality: Tactual Erotics In Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers

Discussant: Tingting Xu (Mellon Fellow at the Society of Fellows and the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University)

Wednesday, Feb 10
4:45-6:45 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)



Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers, as one of the most exquisite examples of shinü hua (“paintings of elite women”), grants a glimpse of sheer sensuality of palace beauties in medieval China. The extraordinary limpidity of female imagery manifested in this work obscures intriguingly the question regarding the crafting and aestheticization of womanly beauty, which has curiously received little scholarly attention. This paper contextualizes the eighth-century praxis of painting court ladies through the lens of the coding of tactual experiences in medieval feminine space. I argue, in particular, that visual representations of skin contact, thermal sensation, and bodily awareness, evoke a vision-touch synesthetic experience that plays a constitutive role in the construction of sensuality and eroticism. This study also attempts to situate the sensitivity to tactile sensation within the literary tradition of erotic poetry of the Southern Dynasties (420-589) and Tang (618-907) periods.

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Meng Zhao is a PhD candidate studying Chinese art with a focus on painting practice of the middle period (ca. 800-1400). Her doctoral dissertation, “Roaming, Listening, Gazing: Human Presence Onstage in Song-Yuan Landscape Art (960-1368),” investigates the related ways in which major landscapists from the end of the eleventh to the fourteenth century turned their attention to the portrayal of human presence and responded in various efforts to the psychological dimension of multi-layered figure-landscape relationship. She is also interested in pictorial representation of beautiful women and its relation to synesthesia and the mingling of senses, and the imagination and depiction of dreams in the mid- and late Ming Dynasty. Meng is currently a COSI Writing Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is researching for the AIC’s digital project on Chinese paintings.

Tingting Xu is a Mellon Fellow at the Society of Fellows and the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. She received her PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago in 2020. She has broad interests in trans-cultural and trans-medial art production in China from the early modern period onwards. She is currently working on a book manuscript on early Chinese photography and a paper on Gong Xian’s landscapes.