A Song of Clay and Fire: Ceramics of Japan and Korea

This seminar explores representative ceramics made in Japan and Korea from the medieval era to the modern day. With emphasis on the artistic and technological exchanges between Japan, Korea, and China since the late medieval period, the course discusses such intriguing issues as the role of ceramics in the time-honored Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu), appropriation and elevation of obscure wares to national treasures, transferability of motifs across media, and shifting aesthetics of ceramics in East Asian societies. Special attention will be given to the different tastes for ceramics in Japan, Korea, China, and Western Europe. Japanese and Korean ceramics will be evaluated in their historical as well as socio-economic contexts and contemporary ceramics will be briefly studied so as to better understand the perpetual potency of pottery in facilitating cross-cultural dialogues till this day. Through looking into Japanese ceramics featured in both domestic and foreign markets, students are encouraged to reflect upon the complex image of “the East” projected to the Western audience by ceramics. A prior knowledge of Japanese or Korean ceramic history is NOT required or expected. All required reading materials are in English. 3 credits. Satisfies either the non-Western or pre-1800 requirement.