Instructor: Sujatha Arundathi Meegama


Office: ADM 4-20

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. or by appointment.


Cleo Thang (Lead Tutor)

Tan Yen Peng

Adeleine Daysor

Description of Course:

This course offers an introduction to the rich diversity, complexity, and beauty of Asian art, specifically to the art and architecture of India, China, and Japan. We will look, think, and read about major artworks within their cultural, religious, economic, and political contexts, paying close attention to their producers and their patrons, as well as to their mediums and styles.

Learning ObjectiveS:

Students will learn the basic critical toolbox in Art History—visual analysis and contextual analysis—with which they will begin to analyze the many diverse objects in Asian art. Students will brush up on their writing and research skills by learning to write a short research paper that analyzes two objects and engages with scholarly textual sources. Students will further develop their reading skills to critically analyze texts (both primary and secondary sources) that provide contextual information by key thinkers, who have shaped the field of Asian art histories. Finally, through presentations, reading assignments, and class discussions, students will hone their public speaking skills.

Assessments and Learnings

Student Assessments:

Visual Analysis: 20%

Presentation: 20%

Research Paper: 40%

Participation: 20%

Learning Outcome:
  1. Students will develop the ability to carefully look by describing and analyzing an artwork (i.e. visual analysis).
  2. Students will develop the ability to explain works of art in relation to their multiple contexts by combining visual evidence and textual evidence (i.e. contextual analysis).
  3. Students will be able to analyze works of art by comparing the similarities and differences in artworks (i.e. comparative analysis).
  4. Students will develop their critical thinking skills, research skills, writing skills, reading skills, and public speaking skills.



Class Policies


Please be on time for lectures and tutorials—repeated tardiness is disruptive to your classmates. Note that attendance will be taken in the first fifteen minutes of class. If you miss more than three meetings, your participation grade will drop.


Tutorials will mainly take the form of team presentations, close readings of relevant scholarly articles, group discussions, and peer review exercises. At times, pop-quizzes and on-line journal writing may also be required.

Group Presentations: 20%

Each student will be assigned to a group and is required to make one tutorial presentation of not more than 20 minutes on one of the designated topics for the week. The group presentation will consist of a group of objects on display at a local museum or at a temple in Singapore. Therefore, all students are required to visit the museum or the temple. In addition to analyzing formal properties and symbolic meanings of objects, students need to interpret objects through primary and secondary sources for their presentations. Depending on the topic, students may also need to analyze the installation of the objects in the museum or their context in the temple.

The presentation is to be illustrated through images that you took at the museum or at the temple, as well as other images you have found through the lecture slides or museum web sites. Moreover, in developing the presentation, the student must use four different types of scholarly textual sources (a peer-reviewed journal article, a text book, an exhibition catalog, a museum website, etc). For example, students can use museum labels, books on reserve at ADM library, and scholarly articles found in databases that NTU subscribes to. Students CANNOT use Wikipedia, Khan Academy, or other popular web sources. Every slide must have sources listed (image and text). Students must include the bibliography at the end of the presentation. All students will receive the grading rubric for the group presentation on the first day of tutorials.

Participation: 20%

In addition to presentations, tutorials are also an opportunity to engage in discussing the various topics that arise during lectures. Even though only a certain number of students do presentations each week, the entire class is expected to prepare for each tutorial topic. All students can prepare for tutorials by reviewing the visual materials on OSS and by reading the recommended readings. Moreover, students are required to do peer review of each other’s presentations and research papers.

Open Source Studio (OSS):

the lecture portion of this class as well as two tutorials—G1 and G2—will use OSS as a platform to communicate with the main instructor of this course, to generate student projects, and to do peer review.


The visual analysis assessment (on South Asia) and the research paper assessment (on East Asia) will address visual materials and textual sources covered in lectures and tutorials. Such assessments will consist of identifications, comparisons, and essays—these are standard art historical questions. For more information on how to navigate art history assessments, please read the PDF “Navigating art history examinations” on OSS. Of course, we will practice these types of questions in lecture and at tutorials.


All readings are posted on OSS in a password protected page, or are available online, in which case the URL is provided. For effective classroom discussion, you will need to bring a copy of the relevant text with you to class, along with your reading notes (these could include a combination of specific quotations and ideas from the text together with your own comments and questions about the text).


All images from lecture are made available on OSS before the weekly lecture. Please also refer to the following web site created by ADM’s art history librarian, for further visual and textual resources.

NTU Academic Integrity Policy:

Plagiarism, Fraud, and Facilitating Academic Dishonesty are all acts of academic dishonesty. The University will enforce serious penalties on students who violate the university’s academic integrity policy. See following web site for further details:

Disability Accommodation:

Please let me know during the first week of the semester if you require special accommodations for class and assignments.


Books on Reserve

Text Books on Reserve at ADM Library:

*Asian Civilizations Museum A-Z Guide to its Collections. Singapore: Asian Civilizations Museum, 2003. DS11.A832

*Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. 11th edition. Place? Pearson Education Inc. 2015. N7476.B261 2015

*Brown, Rebecca M. and Deborah S. Hutton. Eds. Asian Art. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006. N7260.A832A

*Brown, Rebecca M. and Deborah S. Hutton. Eds. A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. USA, UK, Australia: Blackwell Publishing, 2011. N7340.C737

*Chong, Alan. Ed. Devotion and Desire. Cross-Cultural Art in Asia. Singapore: Asian Civilizations Museum, 2013. N7262.C548

*Chong, Alan. Ed. Christianity in Asia Sacred Art and Visual Splendour. Singapore: Asian Civilizations Museum, 2015. On Order.

*Clunas, Craig. Art in China. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2099. N7340.C649 2009

*D’Alleva, Anne. Look! Art History Fundamentals. 3rd edition. Place? Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010. N345.D146 2010

*Dehejia, Vidya. Indian Art. New York: Phaidon 1997. N7301.D322

*Huntington, Susan. The Art of Ancient India: Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain. New York, Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1985. N7301.H953

*Krishnan, Gauri Parimoo. The Divide Within: Art & Living Culture of India and South Asia. Singapore: Asian Civilizations Museum, 2007. N7301.A832

_____. On the Nalanda Trail: Buddhism in India, China, and Southeast Asia. Singapore: Asian Civilizations Museum, 2007. BQ266.K92

*Mitter, Partha. Indian Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. N7301.M685

*Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. N7350. M411

*Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. 5th edition. University of California Press, 2008. N7340. S951 2008

*Thorpe, Robert and Richard Vinograd. Chinese Art and Culture. New York: Abrams, 2001. NX583.T517


Class Schedule

Lecture Schedule:

While assignment due dates remain firm, the instructor reserves the right to change the topics and assigned readings within reason.

Week 1

January 11     “Introductions: What is “Asian Art?”

Week 2

January 18     “Monuments, Narratives, and Images: Buddhist Art in India

Note: Tutorials start!

Week 3

January 25     “Hindu Gods & Goddesses: The Temple Arts of India

Week 4 

February 1     “Paintings and Tombs: Mughal Art & Architecture

Week 5 

February 8     “Tomb Arts of China: The Shang, Zhou, and Qin Dynasties

Week 6 

February 15   “Chinese Ceramics

*Guest Speaker: Dr. Stephen Murphy, Asian Civilizations Museum

 Week 7 

February 22   “Chinese Buddhist Art”

Note: VISUAL ANALYSIS ASSESSMENT at tutorials (covers lectures 1-4)

RECESS (February 27th-March 3rd)

 Week 8

March 8          “Chinese Landscape Painting”

*Writing Workshop: Writing Strategies for Research Papers                      

Week 9

March 15        “Tomb Arts and the Buddhist Arts of Japan”

Week 10

March 22        “The Rise of the Samurai”

Week 11

March 29        “Pictures from the Floating World: The Edo Period”

Week 12

April 5            “Early Photography in Asia”

Week 13

April 12          “Compulsory Consultations Week”

Note: no tutorials on the 14th (Good Friday)

Note: RESEARCH PAPER due on April 16th at 12 midnight

(covers lectures 5-12) submit: turnitin