Undergraduate Course: Visions of the Buddha: Religious Art in Medieval Japan (HIAR10163)
|School||Edinburgh College of Art
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Manga and anime only scratch the surface of Japanese visual and material culture which has flourished for six millennia. This course focuses on medieval artistic production in Japan to investigate the ubiquitous presence of Buddhism, to uncover not only the religious but also the socio-political motivations, to question modern assumptions of Buddhism, and to reveal the continued importance of critical themes at work in this art to our own contemporary society. The course is thematically structured as a series of two-hour seminars incorporating lectures, class discussions, and group activities.
Investigating the visual and material culture of medieval Japan offers an opportunity to explore the deployment of Buddhism for intriguing and poignant reasons do with political authority, gender politics, soteriological goals, fears of death and retribution, and the drive to create something beautiful and powerful. In effect, these are concerns that still face us today. This course analyses the objects presented in lectures and in your readings not only as aesthetic and religious works, but also as icons embodying the particular socio-historical contexts of their production. We grapple with issues of style, iconography, economics, patronage, belief systems, labour, and gender. In order to flesh out these connections, a crucial part of the course will be reading and discussing interdisciplinary and primary source documents. Small group activities are designed to help you experience the subject from different pedagogical perspectives. Our goal is to tell a story of religion, history, literature, and politics with art at its centre, revealing the indispensability and interconnectedness of visual culture to the fabric of medieval Japan.
As a two-hour per week seminar course, the start of each class will be lectures which will draw out certain points from the required readings, provide visual accompaniment, and present additional information to augment the week's theme. The second half of the class will be student-led open discussions of the readings and assigned topic and small group activities that spark and reinforce new learning.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Formative Assessment Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 3,
Revision Session Hours 1,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||1 x 2000 word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10
1 exam 50%
||Students are given feedback on formative assessment as follows:
You will be asked to prepare a spoken presentation to deliver to the class, and will be supported to develop this in one-to-one meeting beforehand, and will receive verbal feedback at one-to-one meeting afterwards. The presentation is designed to assist you in developing your understanding and improving your performance for the summative assessment.
Written feedback on student essays will be provided within 15 days.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S1 (December)||Theory Exam||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate the ability to engage in substantive enquiry and critical analysis of the diverse visuality and many functions of Buddhist art in medieval Japan;
- Develop a solid foundation of knowledge of core Buddhist tenets and major works and monuments of Buddhist art in medieval Japan;
- Demonstrate developed skills of visual enquiry, analysis, and communication using a wide range of objects and primary sources;
- Critique the scholarly literature and locate their own place within the developing field of knowledge.
|Heine, Steven and Pamela Winfield, eds. Zen and Material Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017|
Hirasawa, Caroline. Hell-bent for Heaven: Painting and Practice at a Japanese Mountain. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
Hurvitz, Leon. Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma. Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2009.
Leidy, Denise Patry. The Art of Buddhism: An Introduction to Its History and Meaning. Boulder: Shambhala, 2009.
O'Neal, Halle. Word Embodied: The Jeweled Pagoda Mandalas in Japanese Buddhist Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Visual and critical analysis;
Clear thinking and the development of an argument;
Presentation and communication skills;
Organization and planning.
|Course organiser||Dr Halle O'Neal
Tel: (0131 6)50 2340
|Course secretary||Mrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460