Apr 15 2010

CAEA 2009

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Tenth-Century China and Beyond:

Art and Visual Culture in a Multi-centered Age, Part 1

May 29-30, 2009

The 10th century is remembered as a “dark age,” a period of cultural and political disintegration, in Chinese dynastic history. Such an assessment, however, is strongly challenged by important innovations in art and visual culture that emerged during this time. This conference is the first of two that focuses on this dynamic period.

This international symposium invites scholars to focus on a period that has been inadequately studied though it is a period of dynamic change that saw the rise of regional centers and is known for many important innovations in art and visual culture. The fall of the great Tang dynasty in 907 brought about a period of disunion and reshaping of China in the context of East Asian cultures. The period from 907-960, known as the Five Dynasties Period and Ten Kingdoms, is named for the succession of five short-lived dynasties in the North, and the division of the South into local regimes. After the reunification of China under the Song, historians constructed a largely negative account of the period of disunion into order to promote the new centralized government. This evaluation has dominated later Chinese historiography, such that artistic and cultural innovations of the tenth century have not been recognized or understood in broader contexts.
This event is the first in a series of two in a collaborative initiative based at the Center for the Art of East Asia in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago whose aims include:

• Providing a systematic review and critical assessment of previous scholarship and new archaeological evidence.
• Conducting in-depth case-studies of important sites, artists, and works; contextualizing new artistic phenomena and relating these phenomena to contemporary social, political, technological, and intellectual developments.
• Developing a trans-regional analytical framework and historical narrative by exploring the interactions between different regions and art traditions.
• Forging collaborations between international scholars and research institutions; establishing a new methodologies and a foundation for further inquiry.
• The first symposium will concentrate of themes of funerary and religious art and archeological materials.

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