This course provides a historical introduction to the arts, literature and landscape design of pre-modern China through the lens of the Chinese lyricism, a cross-generic aesthetic tradition which dominated the Chinese culture for three millennia. This course examines the artistic and cultural developments from the beginning of the pre-historical Bronze Age onto Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods, the Empires of Qin and Han, the Imperial States of Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing in an attempt to see how lyric aesthetics are simultaneously created and expressed through varied artistic mediums (paintings, calligraphy, music, and landscape design) and literary genres (drama and fiction) of these periods. Through a close study of the important Chinese literary and artistic works, represented by famous poets and artists, students will be able to understand key facets of traditional Chinese culture. Chinese lyricism is based on a belief held by pre-modern Chinese literati that the universe is one organism and on a deep confidence in cosmic justice and coherence. In the face of culture and socio-economic transformation of the modern period, the predicament and the fate of Chinese lyricism in modern age will also be discussed in the last lecture.

Zhao Zhenxing