2016–2017

“Oh My Heaven”: How Does Chinese Art Domesticate the Above?

Art History

This project asks a set of questions: why heaven is often pictured in unlikely places, such as subterranean tombs or in dark places such as Buddhist caves? Why and how is heaven correlated to a psychological state, such as nirvana? How does heaven-sighting in China involve omens on earth, such as a European horse sent to China by the Pope in the 14th century?

The research partner will read related literature on the different threads and strands of the project, and report on the reading; and will compile a bibliography. The research partner is expected to be well organized, a good writer, a voracious reader, apt in summarizing readings; able to dig deeply and cast the net widely. The research partner will serve also as a sounding board or the imaginary first reader of the book in the making—the goal is to make sense to him or her. The research partner will learn to navigate and conceptualize a fascinating body of materials, observe how an active mind works, and learn the skill of how to ask big questions while engaging with empirical data of details. Bilingual knowledge of both English and Chinese preferred.