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Degrees of Narrativity in Chinese and Japanese Visual Tradition

Tue, June 23, 9:00 to 10:55am, South Building, Floor: South, S1101

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


This panel explores, through an interdisciplinary approach, the nature and function of pictorial themes or subject matter (C. huati; J. gadai) and the relationships between the visual arts and literature. In the Chinese and Japanese visual tradition, numerous works consist of pictorializations of literary themes. Among them, there are works that clearly represent the sequence of time by depicting the same figure repeatedly in the visual representation, such as the Japanese picture scrolls that accompany the text. On the other hand, there are works that hardly show any sequence of time but an educated audience would understand its literary source, such as the representations of “Elegant Gatherings of Chinese Scholars” or “Four Gentlemen.” The issues concerning what caused these differences remain unsolved. This panel also aims to answer these following questions. What constitutes the formation of particular painting themes? Who were the artists and the patrons/consumers of these narrative pictures? Under what circumstances were they produced? How did visual narrativity affect the writing of history, the strategic re-interpretation of the past, and the political necessity of identity formation? What was the purpose of combining the iconographies of multiple episodes to produce a painting? Our goal is to articulate the relations between the socio-political, religio-cultural and ideological importance of pictorial themes based on literary sources.

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