Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Course // Arts of Korea (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Arts of Korea
ASIAN STUDIES 200 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

This course is an introduction to the history of art on the Korean peninsula. Beginning in the neolithic era, it offers a survey of significant artistic developments through the Three Kingdoms, Koryo, and Choson periods, in addition to works from the twentieth and twenty-first century. Students will explore a range of media, including ceramic vessels, sculptures, paintings, textiles, and works of architecture. Key artifacts and artistic traditions are discussed chronologically with their political, religious, and historical contexts. Within each period, foreign influences and indigenous Korean traditions are explored in order to gain a greater understanding of native characteristics and aesthetic concerns. Korea will be framed in context with its East Asian neighbors to showcase its crucial role in the transmission of art and aesthetics across space and time.

Image Credit: Unknown, Jar with Dragon and Clouds, 17th century. White porcelain with iron-brown underglaze. Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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Course // History of World Architecture (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

History of World Architecture
ART 161 | St. Olaf COllege

DESCRIPTION

This introductory course explores the history of architecture from an inclusive, cross-cultural perspective. Proceeding topically through diverse examples from across the globe, students will examine the various ways that individuals and groups responded to religious, political, social, and cultural needs through the creation of built environments. From practical solutions to monumental expressions of power, students will study the role of culture in undergirding regional construction, style, and form. This course examines both local approaches to architectural challenges and shared values that give rise to hybrid structures.

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Course // Arts of Japan (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Arts of Japan
ART/ASIAN STUDIES 260 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

Survey the arts of the Japanese archipelago from the Neolithic period to the present day. This course investigates diverse works such as funerary remains, Shintō architecture, Buddhist sculpture, castle architecture, woodblock prints, hanging and hand scrolls, gardens, tea ceremony, oil and ink painting, performance, photography, and fashion design. We will use visual analysis to discuss themes such as patronage, religious expression, social organization, traditional technologies, indigenous and imported techniques, urban design, and the political functions of art. This course will emphasize various connections between Japan and other cultures through the 21st century that have helped shape Japan’s dynamic aesthetic traditions.

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Course // Arts of China (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Arts of China
ART/ASIAN STUDIES 259 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

This course is intended as an introduction to the history of Chinese art, offering a survey of major artistic developments from neolithic times to the present. Among the topics considered: ritual bronzes, funerary remains of the Qin and Han, Buddhist sculpture, and the evolution of landscape painting. Important issues discussed include production and patronage, function, and borrowing and influence in the evolution of artistic works across time and space. Also counts toward Asian studies and Chinese majors and Asian studies concentration.

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Presentation // Vaguely Oriental: Engineering Asian Architecture in Fantasy MMORPGs

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Vaguely Oriental: Engineering Asian Architecture in Fantasy MMORPGs,” paper delivered at the 48th Annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference, Indianapolis (March 28-31, 2018).

ABSTRACT

In his work Orientalism (1978), Edward Said describes the “Orient” as “the stage on which the whole East is confined.” He explains that, “The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.” The construction of Said’s metaphorical stage is likely familiar to any art historian looking at Neoclassical or Romantic painting. From Ingres to Delacroix, odalisques with unusually Romanesque noses are surrounded by the props, architecture, and costume of an Orientalist tableau made by and for nineteenth-century Europeans.

The application of Said’s Orientalism to the field of art history was and is a common move, but the application to video games is more uncommon. This paper pursues Said’s original line of thinking in another visual mode by focusing on the way that Orientalism manifests in massively multiplayer online role-playing games within the fantasy genre. When immersing one’s self in these games, the design of the world forms a “stage” for the player. Reading Said literally in this sense, I investigate the construction of these spaces with an experimental approach that combines art historical analysis with the recent study of race representation in game studies. While the latter tends to focus on the physical bodies and attributes of in-game characters and avatars, applying close visual analysis so central to the field of art history allows us to understand the way that ideology operates in the smallest—or in the case of architecture, the largest—of environmental details. The visual settings of MMORPGs challenge us by creating specific locales that are read by the player as “Asian” or “vaguely Oriental” within story narratives that harken back to fantasy worlds based in the Western tradition. I want to envision the stakes as well as the creative possibilities enabled by such design.

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Course // Buddhist Art & Architecture (St. Catherine University)

COURSE INFORMATION

Buddhist Art & Architecture
ARTH 2994 | St. Catherine University

DESCRIPTION

This course explores Buddhist art and architecture of South, Southeast, and East Asia. Proceeding both regionally and thematically, we will examine how art and iconography responds to innovations in Buddhism, and how Buddhism itself changes to accommodate local tastes and stylistic preferences. This course will examine a variety of media such as temples, site-specific sculpture, zen ink painting, Chinese and Japanese gardens, and even contemporary comics. Aside from cultivating a general knowledge base of these features, this class should further a general appreciation for regional specificity in art and the major continuities and discontinuities in the Buddhist artistic canon as it moves through Asia. Class will consist of lecture, discussion, and kinetic/creative activities that are intended to further student understanding in a tangible way, such as practicing Japanese tea ceremony and creating a Tibetan sand mandala.

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Course // Buddhist Art & Architecture (UC Irvine)

COURSE INFORMATION

Buddhist Art & Architecture
ART HISTORY 150 / RELIGIOUS STUDIES 120 | University of California, Irvine

DESCRIPTION

This upper division elective class is designed to explore the art and architecture of South, Southeast, and East Asia. We will examine how art and iconography responded to innovations in Buddhism, and how Buddhism itself has changed to accommodate local taste and stylistic preference. Proceeding both regionally and thematically, we will visit iconographic features, figures, and architectural motifs in order to understand regional and cultural translation. Aside from cultivating a general knowledge base of these features, this class should further a general appreciation for regional specificity in art and major continuities and discontinuities in the Buddhist canon as it moves through Asia. Class will be compromised of lecture, discussion, informal group readings of primary texts, and kinetic/creative activities like ink painting.

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