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The introduction of writing enables new forms of literature, but these can be invisible in works that survive as manuscripts. Through looking at inscriptions of poetry on garbage and as graffiti, we can glimpse how literature spread along with writing.
This study uses these lesser-studied sources, including inscriptions on pottery, architecture, and especially wooden tablets known as mokkan, to uncover how poetry, and literature more broadly, was used, shared and thrown away in early Japan. Through looking at these disposable and informal sources, we explore the development of early Japanese literature, and even propose parallels to similar developments in other societies across space and time.
Through an innovative interdisciplinary reading and field research, Igor Chabrowski analyses the history of the development of opera in Sichuan, arguing that opera serves as a microcosm of the profound transformation of modern Chinese culture between the 18th century and 1950s. He investigates the complex path of opera over this course of history: exiting the temple festivals, becoming a public obsession on commercial stages, and finally being harnessed to partisan propaganda work. The book analyzes the process of cross-regional integration of Chinese culture and the emergence of the national opera genre. Moreover, opera is shown as an example of the culture wars that raged inside China’s popular culture.
Abhinavagupta on Dance and Dramatic Acting
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What is Dance? What is Theatre? What is the boundary between enacting a character and narrating a story? When does movement become tinted with meaning? And when does beauty shine alone as if with no object? These universal aesthetic questions find a theoretically vibrant and historically informed set of replies in the oeuvre of the eleventh-century Kashmirian author Abhinavagupta. The present book offers the first critical edition, translation, and study of a crucial and lesser known passage of his commentary on the Nāṭyaśāstra, the seminal work of Sanskrit dramaturgy. The nature of dramatic acting and the mimetic power of dance, emotions, and beauty all play a role in Abhinavagupta’s thorough investigation of performance aesthetics, now presented to the modern reader.
Art and Literature in Pictorial Magazines during Shanghai’s Jazz Age
Author:
In Intoxicating Shanghai, Paul Bevan explores the work of a number of Chinese modernist figures in the fields of literature and the visual arts, with an emphasis on the literary group the New-sensationists and its equivalents in the Shanghai art world, examining the work of these figures as it appeared in pictorial magazines. It undertakes a detailed examination into the significance of the pictorial magazine as a medium for the dissemination of literature and art during the 1930s. The research locates the work of these artists and writers within the context of wider literary and art production in Shanghai, focusing on art, literature, cinema, music, and dance hall culture, with a specific emphasis on 1934 – ‘The Year of the Magazine’.
From Animators’ Perspectives
Volume Editor:
Please visit our blog to read an interview with Daisy Yan Du.

This volume on Chinese animation and socialism is the first in English that introduces the insider viewpoints of socialist animators at the Shanghai Animation Film Studio in China. Although a few monographs have been published in English on Chinese animation, they are from the perspective of scholars rather than of the animators who personally worked on the films, as discussed in this volume. Featuring hidden histories and names behind the scenes, precious photos, and commentary on rarely seen animated films, this book is a timely and useful reference book for researchers, students, animators, and fans interested in Chinese and even world animation.

This book originated from the Animators’ Roundtable Forum (April 2017 at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), organized by the Association for Chinese Animation Studies.
Textualization and Performance, Authorship and Censorship of the “National Drama” of China from the Late Qing to the Present
Author:
What was the most influential mass medium in China before the internet? Jingju (Peking opera)! Although its actors were commonly thought to have been illiterate, written and other inscripted versions of plays became more and more important and varied.
This book shows how increasing textualization and the resulting fixation of a performance tradition that once privileged improvisation changed the genre. It traces, from Jingju’s birth in the 19th century to the present, how texts were used for the production and consumption of this important performance genre and the changes in the concepts of authorship, copyright, and performance rights that took place during the process. The state’s desire to police what was performed is shown to have been a major factor in these changes.
The scope and coverage of the book is already unprecedented, but it is also supplemented by an additional chapter (on where the plays were performed, who performed them, and who went to see them) available for download online.
Muqarnas 37 introduces new research on Islamic material culture ranging from Abbasid period mosaics to the early twentieth-century art market. Featured articles include Charles Melville’s introduction of a chronicle that sheds light on the architectural program of Shah ʿAbbas I, in particular his patronage of the dynastic shrine at Ardabil. From the Ottoman period, two essays discuss painted manuscripts: the first traces shifting representations of urban space in late sixteenth-century Istanbul, and the second focuses on sumptuous objects—namely, candy gardens and decorated palms—accompanying the extraordinary 1720 circumcision festival under Sultan Ahmed III. Another article seeks to unravel the mysterious origins of an unusually sophisticated painting of Mecca from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Other topics covered are archaeological finds in Tunisia, and the legacy of Russian modernization efforts in the architecture of East Anatolia, especially the city of Kars. The Notes and Sources section examines the waqfiyya of the earliest surviving Halveti lodge in Amasya, as well as the function of various types of lamps in contemporary Pakistani Sufi shrines.
Narrative, Place, and the Śaiva Imaginary in Early Medieval North India
In Mapping the Pāśupata Landscape: Narrative, Place, and the Śaiva Imaginary in Early Medieval North India, Elizabeth A. Cecil explores the sacred geography of the earliest community of Śiva devotees called the Pāśupatas. This book brings the narrative cartography of the Skandapurāṇa into conversation with physical landscapes, inscriptions, monuments, and icons in order to examine the ways in which Pāśupatas were emplaced in regional landscapes and to emphasize the use of material culture as media through which notions of belonging and identity were expressed. By exploring the ties between the formation of early Pāśupata communities and the locales in which they were embedded, this study reflects critically upon the ways in which community building was coincident with place-making in Early Medieval India.
Gao Xingjian's Theatre of the Tragic
Author:
In Dionysus on the Other Shore, Letizia Fusini argues that throughout his early exile years (late 1980s-1990s), Gao Xingjian gradually moved away from Absurdist Drama to develop a dramaturgical system with tragic characteristics. Drawing on a range of contemporary theories of tragedy, this book reconfigures some of the key tropes of Gao’s post-1987 theater as varied articulations of the Dionysian sparagmos mechanism. They are the dismemberment of the dramatic self, the usage of constricted spaces, the divisive nature of gender relations, and the agony of verbal language. Through a text-based analysis of seven plays, the author ultimately aims to show that in Gao’s theater, tragedy is an ongoing and mostly subtextual dynamism generated by an interplay of psychic forces concurrently cohesive and divisive.
Muqarnas 36 features a stunning variety of Islamic art genres, ranging from monumental architecture, manuscripts, textiles, and tiles, to inscriptions, material objects, and forgery. It sweeps across India, Iran, and Turkey, and concludes in Britain, with the discovery of an Ashmolean Museum objet d’art that is not exactly what it is advertised to be.
The volume begins with an overview by Finbarr Barry Flood of the architecture, calligraphy, epigraphy, painting, and portable arts of pre-Mughal Islamicate South Asia. Pre-Mughal court culture has always played second fiddle to the overwhelming hegemony and brilliance of the Mughal dynasty but in its regional heterogeneity it is more than worthy of study. This is followed by two essays examining manuscript illumination: Cailah Jackson, 2017 winner of the Margaret B. Ševčenko Prize in Islamic Art and Culture, discusses two manuscripts illuminated by Mukhlis ibn ʿAbdallah al-Hindi in thirteenth-century Konya; and Denise-Marie Teece treats the early sixteenth-century Safīna manuscript (Biblioteca Reale Ms. Or. 101), its illuminator Ruzbehan al-Modhahheb, and its unique six-page preface. A Byzantine stole with embroidered Arabic inscriptions in the collection of Vatopediou Monastery on Mount Athos is the subject of the fourth essay by Nikolaos Vryzidis. The volume’s seven essays conclude with three investigations into Ottoman art history: the blue-and-white tiles of the Baba Naqqaş style of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as prominently displayed in the Muradiye Mosque in Edirne (Patricia Blessing), the architectural book Risāle-i Miʿmāriyye of the seventeenth-century Caʿfer Efendi and in particular his notes on surveying and the architect’s cubit (Gül Kale), and the evolution of the late sixteenth-century Ottoman custom of requiring the sultan to be victorious over the non-Muslim enemy and to only use spoils from the holy war in the construction of a sultanic mosque (Samet Budak).
The Notes and Sources section continues with Bill Hickman’s analysis of the tantalizing calligraphed tiles of the now destroyed mosque built for the Sufi shaykh and poet Eşrefoğlu Rumi (d. 1469?), and two communications about artifacts on British soil: a wooden box, believed to have contained the heart of Abbot Roger de Norton (d. 1291), with an Arabic inscription that is now deciphered by Barry Knight, 147 years after its discovery; and a gorgeous Persian luster bowl in Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, which when subjected to UV examination, revealed that it was a product of extensive repair, or “restoration,” over the centuries. A systematic examination of the bowl and its remarkable history by Francesca Leoni and her colleagues uncovers a level of fakery of antiques that, it is suggested, might be prevalent in museum ceramic collections.