Imitation or Appropriation? Intermediality in Qing Imperial Art and Culture

Imitation or Appropriation? Intermediality in Qing Imperial Art and Culture

Virtual Conference held by Research Students from the History of Art and Archaeology (HAA) Department and hosted by the East Asia Research Seminar (EARS) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK 14-15 May 2021

Submission Deadline: 30 November 2020

In the history of Chinese art, Qing imperial art stands out as a unique type that speaks to the spirit of innovative creativity and systematic order. Facilitated by the development of new technologies as well as new visual and material trends within and outside of China, imitations of various media, ranging from ancient bronzes to organic precious stones, frequently took place in art-making practices at the Qing court. At the same time, appropriations of designs and styles from earlier art forms originating in China and those introduced from other parts of the world were also favoured by Qing imperial patrons.

Despite the fact that Qing imperial art was born from active cultural exchanges across the boundaries of medium, time, and space, modern scholarship in Western and Chinese languages tends to highlight the political undertone behind imperial art practices and undermine the identity of Qing imperial art as a type of cultural product actively engaged in intermedial dialogues with other material objects.

This conference, therefore, aims to open a discussion on intermediality in Qing imperial art. Through the intermedial approach, we hope to break down barriers between different forms of art and invite scholars to examine the interplay between various material forms, pictorial images, and relevant discursive repertoires of values and beliefs in art practices at the Qing court. The intermedial dialogues in the production and reception of Qing imperial art presumably led to the development of new art forms as well as the loss and reconstruction of meanings. Furthermore, the phenomena of imitation and appropriation in Qing imperial art practices across media also point to a lively network among artists, intellectuals, and art patrons all over the world, which deserve further exploration.

With this call for papers, we cordially welcome applications from graduate students, post-docs, curators, early-career researchers, as well as art practitioners from a wide range of disciplines to enrich our discussion. Questions worth considering include, but are not limited to:

  • What triggered intermedial dialogues between different forms of art at the Qing court?
  • How did cross-media transfer in Qing imperial art practices shape people’s perception of art?
  • How did the practice of imitation or appropriation across media in Qing imperial art practices lead to changes in meanings and agencies of different forms of art?
  • In what way did intermedial exchanges in art serve to facilitate the transmission of knowledge, value, and standard in and outside of Qing China?
  • What roles did technical/scientific virtuosity and methodology play in the discourse of intermediality within the Qing context?

In the face of the current global health crisis, we have never been more aware of the value of sharing and the significance in openly exchanging knowledge and ideas across the boundaries of discipline, culture, geography, society and ideology. In hopes of providing a vibrant and broadly accessible platform for our participants to share their findings with a wider audience around the world, we have decided to hold the conference virtually via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Successful applicants will be invited to present their papers (~20-30 minutes in length) either in live mode or in pre-recorded format during the conference.

Confirmed keynotes speakers include Dr. Kristina Kleutghen from Washington University in St. Louis and Dr. Lai Yu-Chih from Academia Sinica, Taipei.

Deadline: 30 November 2020

Application materials:

  • An abstract including the title of your presentation (250-350 words)
  • Affiliation and a short biography (150-200 words)

Please submit your application (PDF file preferred) to intermediality2021@gmail.com

This conference, as part of the East Asia Art & Archaeology Research Seminar (EARS), is organised by Chih-En Chen and Kexin Ma from the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS under the supervision of Dr. Stacey Pierson.


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