Spring 2014

The Social Life of the Japanese Print

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-265  |  Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-265


Bradley M. Bailey (Section 01)


Japanese woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e (‘pictures of the floating world’), are perhaps the best known form of Japanese art. From the late seventeenth century until the present day, ukiyo-e have played greatly varied and significant roles in Japanese society, including illustrations for folktales, portraits of famed courtesans and kabuki actors, souvenirs of historical sites, explicit erotica, secret calendars, board games and fan designs, reportage of contemporary events, and even as precious art objects to be collected and cherished. This course will examine the medium of the Japanese woodblock print both as a representation of a flourishing urban society and also as the means by which that flourishing was made possible; the prolific artists, publishers, carvers, colorists, government censors, and the citizenry of the capital all contributed to a massive and thriving industry and trade in ukiyo-e. It will conclude with an examination of the influence of ukiyo-e on European and American artists. In addition, the course will focus on firsthand examination of the objects themselves, drawing from the Mead’s collection of over 4,000 Japanese prints, allowing students to develop skills of connoisseurship and a deep understanding of the technological evolution of print-making over the course of nearly four hundred years. In addition to more traditional assignments, students will learn to craft practical texts germane to working in a museum, including condition reports, accession proposals, label texts, and catalogue entries. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Post-doctoral Fellow Bailey.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to ASLC and ARHA majors and seniors.


Fine Arts for Non-majors


2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014