United Kingdom, London

Japanese Art: Contexts and Objects

when 25 July 2016 - 12 August 2016
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 ECTS
fee GBP 1450

This course explores the story of Japanese art through its objects. We will look at important sites for religious and secular art in Japan from the sixth through the nineteenth centuries and we will explore the legacies of these sites through their architecture, sculpture and painting. A particular emphasis will be placed on how urban space was visualised and produced through the material and visual culture of elites – imperial court, warriors, and wealthy merchants. We will also explore the rich popular visual culture that flourished in the city of Edo (present Tokyo).

The first week of lectures and activities introduces students to the early capital cities of Japan: Nara and Kyoto. We explore how elites created contesting centres of cultural production. The second week and third week focus on the diverse arts of the cities of Kyoto and Edo as important and competing centres of cultural production from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. We will explore centres of artistic production and their links to political authority in Japan. In the third week the focus will shift to popular visual culture and its centres: the so-called floating world of popular theatres and pleasure quarters in the city. We will also explore how the recurring calamities of fires and earthquakes engendered a rich visual culture that celebrated the resilience of urbanites as a spectacle. Throughout the course references will be made to links of cultural currents of the past with contemporary Japan and the West.

Course leader

Professor Timon Screech

Target group

Current students, professionals + leisure learners

Course aim

At the end of a course, students will:

get an overview of the rich visual and material culture of Japan from the sixth through the nineteenth centuries
engage with art objects and their historical, cultural and political contexts (historical context and display in the museum)
develop skills and confidence in seeing and talking about art objects and to communicate their experiences and insights about these objects

Credits info

7.5 ECTS
Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Fee info

GBP 1450: Tuition
A tuition fee of £1450 will be charged per 3-week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.

Application fee
A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £60 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.

An early bird discount of 10% is available if fees are paid by 31 March 2016.
15% discount for SOAS Alumni or if you take a combination of sessions 2 and 3.
20% discount for current SOAS students and our partner institutions.
Other discounts are available for groups, please contact us for further information.

Accommodation is available at an extra fee of £700 for 20 nights. For more details of how to reserve a room please our accommodation page.


SOAS, University of London offers a limited number of scholarships. Please check the website for full details