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Art, History, and Sinology | Speakers


Tamara Bentley, Associate Professor of Asian Studies, Art, Colorado College

Tamara Bentley teaches Chinese and Japanese art at Colorado College. Her research examines relationships between visual and literary values in 17th century and 18th century Chinese and Japanese paintings and prints, as well as the international exchange of imagery in the early modern era. She is interested in expanding public markets for art, and trade. She is the author of The Figurative Works of Chen Hongshou (1599–1652): Authentic Voices/Expanding Markets (Ashgate Press, 2012). She is also the editor for, and a contributor to, the book Picturing Commerce in and from the East Asian Maritime Circuits, 1550 – 1800, which will be published by Amsterdam University Press in early 2019.

Lara Blanchard, Luce Professor of East Asian Art, Art and Architecture, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Professor Blanchard’s scholarly interests include Chinese pictorial arts from the Song dynasty (960-1279) through the contemporary period; construction of gender in art; women as artists and patrons; text-image relationships; and Chinese theories of representation. Her recent publications include Song Dynasty Figures of Longing and Desire: Gender and Interiority in Chinese Painting and Poetry Brill 2018; Gender, Continuity, and the Shaping of Modernity in the Arts of East Asia, 16th-20th Centuries, Brill 2017; and "Imagining Du Liniang in The Peony Pavilion: Female Painters, Self-portraiture, and Paintings of Beautiful Women in Late Ming China", Women, Gender and Art in Asia, c. 1500-1900 / Routledge 2016.

Timothy Brook, Professor, History, University of British Columbia                                 

Timothy Brook is a historian of China whose work has focused on the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) but extends to issues that span the period from the Mongol occupation of China in the 13th century to the Japanese occupation of China in the 20th. He is the general editor of Harvard University Press' History of Imperial China. His current work seeks to shed light on the history of China's relationships--diplomatic, cultural, and environmental--with the world in the long run. A co-edited volume on this topic, Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis Khan, will be published by the University of Chicago Press this spring. The book he is currently writing for a broader popular audience, tentatively entitled China and the World, should appear next year.

Katharine P. Burnett, Associate Professor, Chinese Art & Culture, Art History, University of California, Davis

Katharine Burnett conducts wide-ranging research on China from 1550-present, exploring historical art theory and criticism, art and politics, art collecting and display, visual and material culture relating to the global tea trade.  Among her tea-related research projects is an investigation into the development of tea cultures marked by the exchange of tea wares between China and its southwestern neighbors, starting with Vietnam, and before 1700, when steeped tea became the norm. Her first book is Dimensions of Originality: Essays on Seventeenth-Century Chinese Art Theory and Criticism (Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 2013). She is completing a book on the famous Chinese painting collector, Pang Yuanji and his collection. 

Wen-chien Cheng, Curator, Louise Hawley Stone Chair of East Asian Art, Royal Ontario Museum

Dr. Cheng’s major area of research is premodern Chinese painting, and her research approach is a contextualized study of visual culture. She co-curated the exhibition, The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China's Emperors (2014), on view at ROM and Vancourver Art Gallery.  Her museum experience spans nearly a decade, primarily through working in a research capacity for the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). She also served as guest curator and catalogue author for Tradition Transformed: Chang Ku-nien, Chinese Master Painter of the 20th Century (2010) at the UMMA, and Looking Both Ways: A Contemporary Art Exhibition Coinciding with the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution (2011), organized by the Eastern Michigan University Art Galleries in collaboration with the Confucius Institute and the North Campus Research Complex at the University of Michigan.

Roslyn Hammers, Associate Professor, Chinese Art and Architecture, Fine Arts, University of Hong Long

Dr. Hammers teaches courses on Chinese painting, South Asian art, and Asian architectural history. She was an assistant professor of art history and visual culture studies at Whitman College, Washington state, before taking her position at University of Hong Kong. Dr. Hammers has published the book Pictures of Tilling and Weaving: Art, Labor and Technology in Song and Yuan China (Hong Hong University Press, 2011). She was a fellow at the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge University, U.K. as well as at the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. Her interests include Song and Yuan dynasty artistic practices, the relationships between technological imagery and art, and the cross-cultural reception of art between Asia and non-Asia.

Bo Liu, Associate Professor, Art History and Humanities, John Carroll University

Dr. Liu's research interests include paintings of the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties. Her research has focused on political expression in Song painting, the malleability of pictorial motifs, and expressive potential of images with/without text.  She is currently working on tomb murals from the Northern Song and Jin dynasties. She is interested in the relationship between tombs murals—images that were meant to serve the deceased—and painting circulated among the living.  Trained as an art historian and archaeologist, she hopes to use mythologies and perspectives from the two disciplines and contribute to the current studies in the two fields, including discerning the stylistic differences between Northern Song and Jin tombs, searching for literati art tradition during the Jin dynasty, and dating some problematic paintings from this turbulent historical period. Her recently publications include “Physical Beauty and Inner Virtue: Shinü tu in the Song Dynasty," The Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, vol.45 (2017), "Decoding the Silent Comments: A New Study of Thirteen Emperors," Taida Journal of Art History, vol. 40 (2016) and "The Multivalent Imagery of the Ox in Song Painting," The Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, vol. 44 (2015). 

Lydia H. Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University

Professor Lydia H. Liu is a scholar of comparative literature and a theorist of media and translation. Her representative publications include The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (2010), The Clash of Empires (2004), Translingual Practice (1995) and many edited or co-edited volumes in English and Chinese including Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations (1999), The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (2013) with Dorothy Ko and Rebecca Karl, and recently, Origins of the Global Order: From the Meridian Line to the Standard of Civilization published in Chinese (2016) as well as the first annotated edition of late Qing journals Natural Justice & Equity co-edited with Wan Shiguo (2016). As bilingual writer, Liu is the author of The Nesbit Code, a work of fiction in Chinese that received the Hong Kong Book Prize in 2014. She has been directing the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University and is currently a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Olivia Mendelson, Graduate Student in History of Art, University of Michigan

Olivia Mendelson's current research focuses on material culture of late imperial China and on Chinese export objects. She received her BA in art history and Chinese at Swarthmore College.

John Onians, Emeritus Professor, School of Art, Media and American Studies, University of East Anglia

John Onians’ interests range from the close analysis of Italian Renaissance Architecture and Greek and Roman Art to experimentation with broad approaches to art as a worldwide phenomenon, such as art geography. Most recently he has explored the use of neuroscience for the study of art-related behaviours, pioneering neuroarthistory, neuroarchaeology, neuroanthropology and neuromuseology. His books include Bearers of Meaning. The Classical Orders in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (1988) and Classical Art and the Cultures of Greece and Rome (1999). He was founding editor of the journal Art History (1978-88) and he edited the first Atlas of World Art (2004). He is currently writing a Neuroarthistory of Europe. 

J.P. Park, Associate Professor, History of Art, University of California, Riverside

J.P. Park’s research interests touch upon a wide spectrum of art historical materials ranging from ancient tombs in North Korea to contemporary art in China. His first book, Art by the Book: Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late Ming China (University of Washington Press, 2012) discusses how the genre of “how-to-paint” books can be productively examined as a key element in the larger cultural matrix of the early modern China, not only in terms of the knowledge and practice of art, but also as a register of social changes, gender issues, fashion, leisure, and conflicts of taste. He has also authored an exhibition catalogue, Keeping It Real: Korean Artists in the Age of Multi-Media Representation (Workroom, 2012), wherein he illuminates the concept of “post- globalism” as an alternative channel of historical analysis. His latest book is on early modern Korean art, A New Middle Kingdom: Chinese Art and Cultural Politics in Late Chosŏn Korea (1700–1850) (University of Washington Press, 2018). He is preparing another manuscript, tentatively titled, Presence in Absence: Documents, Forgeries, and Myth-making in Chinese Art.

Richard Vinograd, Christensen Fund Professor in Asian Art, Art & Art History, Stanford University

Dr. Vinograd’s research interests include Chinese portraiture, landscape painting and cultural geography, urban cultural spaces, painting aesthetics and theory, art historiography, and inter-media studies. He is the author of Boundaries of the Self: Chinese Portraits, 1600-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); co-editor of New Understandings of Ming and Qing Painting (Shanghai: Shanghai Calligraphy Painting Publishing House, 1994); and co-author of Chinese Art & Culture (New York: Prentice Hall and Harry N. Abrams, 2001). He has published more than thirty journal articles, anthology chapters, conference papers, and catalogue essays on topics ranging from tenth-century landscape painting to contemporary transnational arts.

Lothar von Falkenhausen, Professor, Chinese Art and Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles

Professor von Falkenhausen’s  research concerns the archaeology of the Chinese Bronze Age, focusing on large interdisciplinary and historical issues on which archaeological materials can provide significant new information. He has published copiously on musical instruments, including a book, Suspended Music: Chime Bells in the Culture of Bronze Age China (1993); Chinese bronzes and their inscriptions; Chinese ritual; regional cultures; trans-Asiatic contacts; the history of archaeology in East Asia; and method and theory in East Asian archaeology. His Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius (1000-250 BC): The Archaeological Evidence (2006) received the Society for American Archaeology Book Award. Falkenhausen was co-Principal Investigator of an international archaeological project on ancient salt production in the Yangzi River basin (1999-2004) and is presently serving as Instructor of Record of the International Archaeological Field School at Yangguanzhai (2010-).

Gerui Wang, Graduate Student in History of Art, University of Michigan

Gerui’s research concerns the connection between art and political institutions, the interactions between art and public policy, and how artists negotiate their personal agency. Other than premodern painting history, she has also examined art making in socialist politics in modern China, focusing on the 1950s through 1970s. She is also interested in cross-cultural visuality. For her dissertation, she will explore the representation of public spaces portrayed in Chinese landscape paintings in Song dynasty (960-1279). She is currently a curatorial assistant at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History and the College, Art History, University of Chicago

Wu Hung has published widely on both traditional and contemporary Chinese art. His interest in both traditional and modern/contemporary Chinese art has led him to experiment with different ways to integrate these conventionally separate phases into new kinds of art historical narratives, as exemplified by his Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation of Chinese Pictorial Art (1996), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square: the Creation of a Political Space (2005), A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (2012), and Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016). Several of his ongoing projects follow this direction to explore the interrelationship between art medium, pictorial image, and architectural space, the dialectical relationship between absence and presence in Chinese art and visual culture, and the relationship between art discourse and practice.                      


Christian de Pee, Associate Professor, History, University of Michigan

Dr. de Pee’s research interests focus on AsiaMedieval & Early Modern StudiesIntellectual & Cultural History; Globalism and the World.  Among his publications are “Purchase on Power: Imperial Space and Commercial Space in Song-Dynasty Kaifeng, 960-1127.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 52:4-5 (2009), 760-94; “Words of Seduction, Lines of Resistance: Writing and Gender in Zheng Xi’s Dream of Spring(1318).” Nan Nü: Men, Women, and Gender in Early and Imperial China 9 (2007), 247-83 and The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China: Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007).

Li Min, Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles

Li Min’s major field of research is archaeology of prehistoric and Bronze Age China, focusing on the rise of state and early civilizations. Currently, he is working on a book on the rise of kingship and states in early China. His second field of research is maritime archaeology of the Asiatic Trade in the Early Modern Era (13-17th centuries). using the research on ceramic production and trade in coastal China and Southeast Asia to document the transformations in material culture brought by the inauguration of the early global trade.  Li Min is also co-director of the Wen-Si River Basin archaeological survey project, a collaboration between UCLA and archaeologists in China, a team of internationally renowned archaeologists and specialists working on landscape archaeology.

Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art, Museum of Art, University of Michigan

As the Curator of Asian Art at the UMMA, Natsu has curated a number of exhibits, including Japanese Prints of Kabuki Theater from the Collection of University of Michigan Museum of Art (October 2016 to January 2017),  Xu Weixin: Monumental Portraits (February to May, 2016), and Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries (August to November, 2012). She has also published a number of essays in the University of Michigan Art and Archaeology Bulletin. In addition to her position at UM, Natsu also works as a consultant curator for the Japanese Art Gallery at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

David Porter, Professor, Comparative Literature, University of Michigan

Professor Porter is the author of Ideographia: The Chinese Cipher in Early Modern Europe (2001) and The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (2010).  Additional publications include articles on cross-cultural aesthetics and comparative methodology. His current book project, a comparative study of literary trends in China and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, has involved excursions into world literature, translation theory, comparative political and economic history, and Ming dynasty philosophy.  Teaching interests in Comparative Literature include undergraduate courses on comparative early modernities and graduate seminars on theories of world literature and comparative methodologies.  

Alex Potts, Max Loehr Collegiate Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan

Alex Potts’ work on art and artistic theory covers a number of areas - sculptural aesthetics and the history of sculpture, experimental practices and the aesthetics of realism in twentieth-century art, art and artistic theory in the nineteenth century, and Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment conceptions of the classical ideal. His main publication on the latter was his book Flesh and the Ideal. Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History (1994). In addition to the book The Sculptural Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist (2000), his work on sculpture includes a co-edited anthology of texts on modern sculpture, The Modern Sculpture Reader (2007; reissued 2012), and articles on David Smith, Alberto Giacometti and other twentieth-century sculptors. In his more recent research he has been arguing for the larger significance of experimental forms of realism in post-war European and American art. 

Elizabeth Sears, Chair and George H. Forsyth Collegiate Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan

Elizabeth Sears has two areas of specialization:  European representational arts from the eighth through the fourteenth century and historiography. Much of her medieval research has involved close study of manuscripts, but her work has been characteristically thematic and problem-based (e.g. the iconography of sensory perception, author portraits and theories of authorship, guild regulations and the medieval critical eye).  Publications include “Eye training: Goldschmidt/Wölfflin,” and treatments of figures standing in the Warburgian  tradition including H. W. Janson, W. S. Heckscher, Edgar Wind, Fritz Saxl, Jean Seznec, and Kenneth Clark. She is currently engaged in writing a collective biography, tentatively titled Warburg Circles, 1929-1964, that throws light on a highly influential intellectual movement owed to scholars who emigrated from Germany in the Nazi era.

Wang Zheng, Professor of Women's Studies and History, Research Scientist of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan

Professor Wang’s publications concern feminism in China, both in terms of its historical development and its contemporary activism, and changing gender discourses in China’s socioeconomic, political, and cultural transformations of the past century. Her current book publication is Finding Women in the State A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1964 (UC Press, 2016),  a provocative hidden history of socialist state feminists maneuvering behind the scenes at the core of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Guest of Honor

Martin J. Powers

Martin Powers is Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan, and former director of the Center for Chinese Studies. His research focuses on the role of the arts in the history of human relations in China, with an emphasis on issues of personal agency and social justice. In 1993 his Art and Political Expression in Early China, Yale University Press, received the Levenson Prize for the best book in pre-twentieth century Chinese studies.  In 2006, his Pattern and Person: Ornament, Society, and Self in Classical China was published by Harvard University Press East Asian Series and was awarded the Levenson Prize for 2008. He has served on numerous national committees, including NEH, ACLS, and the advisory board of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. He has taught at Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Zhejiang University, and has published articles and essays in multiple venues in Chinese, including an editorial series in the journal of culture and current affairs, Du Shu. In 2009 he was resident at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton writing a book on the role of 'China' in the political debates of the English Enlightenment. Together with Dr. Katherine Tsiang, he co-edited Looking at Asian Art and the Blackwell Companion to Chinese Art.

His latest book, China and England: the Preindustrial Struggle for Justice in Word and Image, is currently available from Routledge.  Martin Powers’ next project will be a close study of the Classical Chinese term xiaoyao, “wondering freely,” and how it played out visually and politically during the Han and Song periods.