EARLY CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY
Robert E. Harrist, Jr.
Department of Art History and Archaeology
Columbia University
Course Description:

The goal of this class is to study major developments in the history of Chinese calligraphy from the Shang through the Tang dynasties. In addition to examining the works of individual calligraphers, we will attempt to understand how the history of calligraphy has been written, both in China and in the West, how calligraphy conveys meaning, and why it has been valued above all other arts in China . Although this course is “on the books” as a lecture, it will be conducted as a seminar.

Readings:

Readings will be drawn from a wide range of books and articles on my seminar shelves in Avery Fine Arts Library and in the Starr Library or at the Reserve Desks in these libraries. The weekly assignments are fairly specialized, and it is assumed that any students needing more background information will read independently in the following recommended texts:

  • Fu, Shen et al. Traces of the Brush: Studies in Chinese Calligraphy. (Starr Library ND1457.C52 N483)
  • Harrist, R., Wen C. Fong, et al. The Embodied Image . (Fine Arts ND1040 H24)
  • Nakata, Yujir. Chinese Calligraphy. New York , 1983. (Fine Arts ND1040 C445)
  • Shodô zenshû , 3rd edition, 27 vols., Tokyo , 1966-69. (Starr Library ND1457 .C53 S52 1982)
  • Tseng, Yuho. A History of Chinese Calligraphy . Hong Kong , 1993. (Fine Arts ND1040 T78)
  • Zhongguo shufa quanji . Beijing , 1991. (Starr Library NK3634 .A2 C554 1991)

All required readings are in English. Students who can read Chinese or Japanese will be given supplemental assignments in these languages. As the semester progresses, assignments and topics may be altered to fit the needs of students.

There are no textbooks required for this class, but the following books, some available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or at Amazom.com, are highly recommended for purchase:

  • Boltz, William. The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System . American Oriental Series, vol. 78. New Haven , 1994.
  • Chang Ch'ung-ho and Hans H. Frankel, trans. Two Chinese Treatises on Calligraphy. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1995.
  • Harrist, R., Wen C. Fong, et al. The Embodied Image : Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection at Princeton University. Princeton : The Art Museum, 1999.
  • Keightley, David. Sources of Shang History: The Oracle Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China . Berkeley : University of California Press, 1978.
  • Liu, Cary, Dora Ching, and Judith G. Smith, eds. Character & Context in Chinese Calligraphy . Princeton: Art Museum, Princeton University , 1999.
  • McNair, Amy. The Upright Brush : Yan Zhenqing's Calligraphy and Song Literati Politics . Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press, 1998.
  • Shaughnessy, Edward. Sources of Western Zhou History: Inscribed Bronzes. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1991.

Requirements:

Vigorous participation in class discussion is the principal requirement of the class. Please keep in mind that nothing you say will be held against you. Calligraphy is hard to describe, and we are all struggling to find words to articulate what we see.

All students will give seminar reports on substantial topics and will turn in written versions of their reports in the form of polished seminar papers. Grading will be based on the quality of the papers.

Class Schedule and Reading Assignments :

September 6 : Introduction and Organizational Meeting

September 13 : The Origins of Writing, in China and beyond: Theories and Archaeological Evidence

Xu Shen, Shuowen jiezi , “Postface”

Boltz, The Origin and Early Development, chs. 1-2

Chaves, “The Legacy of Ts'ang Chieh”

For further reading: Qiu, Chinese Writing , read at will

September 20 : Shang Oracle Bones: The Collection at Columbia University

Keightley, Sources of Shang History , chs. 1-2

Bagley, “Writing in Anyang ”

Chou, Oracle Bone Collections in the United States , read sections on CU bones

September 27 : Bronze and Stone: Cast and Carved Inscriptions of the Zhou Dynasty

Shaughnessy, Sources of Western Zhou History, chs. 2-3

Wilson, "The Stylus and the Brush"

Li, "Ancient Reproductions and Calligraphic Variations"

Falkenhausen, “Issues in Western Zhou Studies” (only for the most determined)

October 4 : The Stele Inscriptions of the Han Dynasty

Wong, Chinese Steles , chs. 1-2.

Nylan, “Calligraphy, the Sacred Text, and Test of Culture”

Proser, "Moral Characters" (read as much as time allows)

October 11 : Wang Xizhi and the Culture of Chinese Calligraphy, Part 1

Ledderose, Mi Fu , Chapter 1, “The Classical Tradition”

Harrist, “A Letter from Wang Xizhi”

Harrist, “The Aesthetics of Replication and Deception”

October 18 : Wang Xizhi and the Culture of Chinese Calligraphy, Part 2

Ledderose, “Some Taoist Elements”

Hay, “The Human Body as a Microcosmic Source of Macrocosmic Values”

Kraus, Brushes with Power , Part I

October 25 : Early Texts on Calligraphy

McNair, “ Fashu yaolu

Barnhart, “Wei Fu-jen's Pi Chen T'u

Knieb, “Le Sitishu shi de WeiHeng "

Lidai shufa lunwen xuan , (selections TBA)

November 1 : Brush and Chisel--Calligraphy of the Northern Dynasties

Lu, “Calligraphy of Stone Engravings in N. Wei Loyang "

Hua, "The History of Revival of N. Wei Stele-Style Calligraphy"

Harrist, “The Virtual Stele”

Tsiang, “Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts in the Northern Qi Dynasty”

Novermber 8 : Academic Holiday

November 15 : Calligraphy and Rulership at the Tang Court

Goldberg, “Court Calligraphy of the Early T'ang Dynasty”

McNair, “Public Values in Calligraphy and Orthography”

Harrist, “Record of the Eulogy on Mt. Tai "

Chang and Frankel, trans. Two Chinese Treatises on Calligraphy, pp. ix-16

November 22 : Yan Zhenqing and Huaisu

McNair, The Upright Brush (finish reading the entire book)

Peter C. Sturman, “The Thousand Character Essay”

Schlombs, Huai-su, read as much as possible

November 29 : Student reports

December 6 : Student reports

December 13 : Student reports (note extra session)

Selected Bibliography and Reserve List:

Bagley, Robert W. “ Anyang Writing and the Origin of the Chinese Writing System.” In The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process , ed. Stephen D. Houston, 190-249. Photocopy.

Barnhart, Richard, “Wei Fu-jen's Pi Chen T'u and the Early Texts on Calligraphy.” Archives of the Chinese Art Society in America 18 (1964): 13-25. Photocopy.

Boltz, William. The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System . American Oriental Series, vol. 78. New Haven , 1994. (EAST ASIAN PL1171 .B67 1994g). Reserve Desk, Starr Library.

Chang Ch'ung-ho and Hans H. Frankel, trans. Two Chinese Treatises on Calligraphy. New Haven , 1995. (EAST ASIAN NK3634.A4 C8785 1995) Seminar Shelf, Starr Library

Chaves, Jonathan. “The Legacy of Ts'ang Chieh: the Written Word as Magic.” Oriental Art 23, no. 2 (Summer 1977): 200-215. Photocopy.

Chou, Hung-hsiang. Oracle Bone Collections in the United States. Berkeley, 1976. (EAST ASIAN Z3108 .L5 C495) Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Falkenhausen, Lothar von. “Issues in Western Zhou Studies: A Review Article.” Early China 18 (1993): 145-171. Photocopy.

Fu Shen et al. Traces of the Brush: Studies in Chinese Calligraphy . New Haven , 1977. (EAST ASIAN ND1457.C52 N483) Seminar Shelf, Starr Library. (Reported missing?)

Goldberg, Steven. “Court Calligraphy of the Early T'ang Dynasty.” Artibus Asiae XLIX, nos. 3-4 (1988-89): 189-237. Photocopy.

Harrist, Robert E., Jr. “Replication and Deception in Calligraphy of the Six Dynasties Period.” In Chinese Aesthetics: The Ordering of Literature, The Arts, and the Universe in the Six Dynasties , ed. Zong-ci Cai, 31-59. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press, 2004. (EAST ASIAN BH39 .C5268 2004). Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Harrist, Robert E., Jr. “The Eulogy on Burying a Crane: A Ruined Inscription and its Restoration.” Oriental Art XLIV, no. 3 (1998): 2-10. Photocopy.

Harrist, Robert E., Jr. “A Letter from Wang Hsi-chih and the Culture of Chinese Calligraphy.” In Harrist and Fong, The Embodied Image. Reserve Desk, Avery Library.

Harrist, Robert E. Jr. “Record of the Eulogy on Mt. Tai and the Imperial Autographic Monuments of the Tang Dynasty.” Oriental Art XLVI, no. 2 (2000): 68-79. Photocopy.

Harrist, Robert E. Jr. “The Virtual Stele on Tieshan and the Monumental Sutras of Shandong Province .” Oriental Art 49, no. 4 (2004): 2-13.

Harrist, Robert E., Jr., Wen C. Fong et al., The Embodied Image: Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection at Princeton University . Princeton , 1999. (FINE ARTS ND1040 H24). Reserve Desk, Avery Library.

Hay, John. “The Human Body as a Microcosmic Source of Macrocosmic Values in Calligraphy.” In S. Bush and C. Murck, eds., Theories of the Arts in China . Princeton , 1983. (EAST ASIAN NX583.A1 T48 1983). Reserve Desk, Starr Library.

Hua, Rende. "The History and Revival of N. Wei Stele-Style Calligraphy," in Liu et al, eds., Character and Context. (FINE ARTS ND1040 C37) Seminar Shelf, Avery Library.

Keightley, David. Sources of Shang History: The Oracle Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China . Berkeley : University of California Press, 1978. (EAST ASIAN DS744 .K44) Reserve Desk, Starr Library.

Knieb, Andre. "Le Sitishu shi de Wei Heng (252-291)—Premier Traite Chinois de Calligraphie." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 9 (1996-97): 99-129. Seminar Shelf, Starr Library. Photocopy.

Kraus, Richard Kurt. Brushes with Power: Modern Politics and the Chinese Art of Calligraphy . Berkeley , 1991. EBOOK.

Ledderose, Lothar. Mi Fu and the Classical Tradition of Chinese Calligraphy . Princeton , 1979. (FINE ARTS ND1049 M58 L49). Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Ledderose, Lothar. “Some Taoist Elements in the Calligraphy of the Six Dynasties.” T'oung Pao 70 (1984): 246-78. Photocopy.

Lidai shufa lunwen xuan , vol. 1. Shanghai, 1979. (EAST ASIAN NK3634.A2 L516) . Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Liu, Cary, Dora Ching, and Judith G. Smith, eds. Character & Context in Chinese Calligraphy. Princeton: Art Museum, Princeton University , 1999. (FINE ARTS ND1040 C37) Seminar Shelf, Avery Library.

Lu, Hui-wen. "Calligraphy of Stone Engravings in Northern Wei Loyang ." In

Liu et al. eds., Character and Context . Seminar Shelf, Avery Library.

McNair, Amy. “ Fa shu yao lu, a Ninth-Century Compendium of Texts on Calligraphy.” T'ang Studies , no. 5 (1987): 69-86. Photocopy.

McNair, Amy. “Public Values in Calligraphy and Orthography in the Tang Dynasty.” Monumenta Serica 43 (1995): 106-114. Photocopy.

McNair, Amy. The Upright Brush : Yan Zhenqing's Calligraphy and Song Literati Politics . Honolulu , 1998. EBOOK.

Nakata, Yurjir. Chinese Calligraphy. New York , 1983. (FINE ARTS ND1040 C445). Reserve Desk, Avery Library.

Nylan, Michael. "Calligraphy, the Sacred Text, and Test of Culture." In Liu et al.. eds., Character and Context. Seminar Shelf, Avery Library.

Proser, A. "Moral Characters: Calligraphy and Bureaucracy in Han China (206 B.C. E.-C.E. 220)." Ph. D. diss., Columbia University , 1995. Photocopy. Seminar Shelf, Avery Library.

Qiu Xiqui. Chinese Writing. Trans. Gilbert L. Mattos and Jerry Norman. Society for the Study of Early China and The Institute for East Asian Studies, University of California , Berkeley , 2000. East Asian PL1281 .C5813 2000. Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Schlombs, Adele. Huai-su and the Beginnings of Wild Cursive Script in Chinese Calligraphy . Stuttgart , 1998. (EAST ASIAN NK3634.H83 S345 1998) Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Shaughnessy, Edward. Sources of Western Zhou History : Inscribed Bronzes. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1991. EBOOK.

Shodô zenshû , 3rd edition, 27 vols., Tokyo , 1966-69. (EAST ASIAN ND1457 .C53 S52 1982) Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Sturman, Peter. “The ‘Thousand Character Essay' Attributed to Huaisu and the Tradition of Kuangcao Calligraphy,” Orientations 25, no. 4 (April 1994), pp. 38-46. Photocopy.

Tsiang, Katherine R. “Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts in the Northern Qi Dynasty: the Engravings of Sutras in Stone at the Xiangtangshan Caves and other sites in the Sixth Century,” Artibus Asiae 56, nos. 3/4, 1996, pp. 253-54. Photocopy.

Tseng Yuho, A History of Chinese Calligraphy . Hong Kong , 1993 (FINE ARTS ND1040 T78). Seminar Shelf, Avery Library.

Wilson, J. Keith. "The Stylus and the Brush: Stylistic Change in Late Anyang and Early Western Zhou Bronze Inscriptions." Orientations (July 2000): 52-63. Photocopy Starr Seminar Shelf.

Wong, Dorothy. Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Uses of this Symbolic Form. Honolulu : University of Washington Press, 2004. (EAST ASIAN DS719. W65 2004). Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Xu Shen. Shuowen jiezi , "Preface," trans. K. L. Thern, Postface of the Shuo-wen Chieh-tzu: The First Comprehensive Chinese Dictionary. Wisconsin China Series, no. 1. Madison : University of Wisconsin , 1966. (EAST ASIAN PL1281 .H82 1966). Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

Zhongguo shufa quanji. Beijing , 1991. (EAST ASIAN NK3634 .A2 C554 1991) Seminar Shelf, Starr Library.

N.B. All photocopies are on the Avery Library Seminar Shelf.