ARTH 272. Chinese Pictures, Ming Dynasty to Modern. Fall 2014.
Professor Lara Blanchard
tel: 781-3893
Art & Architecture Department, 208 Houghton House

Instructions for response papers.

From time to time throughout the semester I will be assigning short response papers, basically a 300- to 600-word response to one of the assigned texts.

What I will be looking for in these papers is:

  1. evidence that you read the text: a brief summary (no longer than a paragraph) of what the text is about, with some attention to who wrote it and why. If it is a secondary source (as in assignments 1,2, and 4—see below), identifying the author’s thesis and argument would be useful.
  2. evidence that you thought about the text in relation to the art featured in the week’s readings and/or concepts that are raised in readings for another class. This should form the bulk of the paper.
  3. good writing.

Within these parameters, you can go in any direction you want with these papers. If the text makes you think about the nature of Chinese religion, politics, or society, please write about it. I am hoping that these papers will stimulate your thinking about Chinese culture and that this will deepen your understanding of Chinese art. Please note, though, that I am not interested in thoughtless criticism of Chinese art or culture. If you have a negative reaction to the text, you need to stop to reflect on how the values of Chinese society in a particular period might differ from modern values. If you find the text confusing, it is fine to focus on one part of it.

Please refer to the notes in your syllabus about appropriate formats for written work and about plagiarism. (Yes, plagiarism even matters here: if you quote from the text in your paper, please use a parenthetical reference or footnote.)

If you have further questions about writing response papers, you might visit the HWS Writes website (


  1. Ellen Johnston Laing, Suzhou Pian and Other Dubious Paintings in the Received Oeuvre of Qiu Ying,” Artibus Asiae 59, no. 3/4 (2000): 265-95; due Monday, Sept. 22.
  2. Ellen Johnston Laing, “Wives, Daughters, and Lovers: Three Ming Dynasty Women Painters,” in Views from Jade Terrace: Chinese Women Artists 1300-1912, by Marsha Weidner et al. (Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1988), 31-39; due Wednesday, Oct. 8.
  3. Richard E. Strassberg, trans., Enlightening Remarks on Painting (Pasadena: Pacific Asia Museum, 1989), 61-91; due Friday, Oct. 17.
  4. Karen Smith, “Zero to Infinity: The Nascence of Photography in Contemporary Chinese Art of the 1990s,” in Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990-2000), ed. Wu Hung, Wang Huangsheng, and Buyi Feng (Guangzhou: Guangdong Museum of Art, 2002), 35-50; due Monday, Dec. 8.