Tracy Miller

Current Courses

Fall 2020 (both courses hybrid)

HART 1200 Arts of East Asia

This course is an exploration of the cultural traditions of East Asia from the 2nd millennium BCE to the 19th century through the visual arts. Architecture, painting, ceramics, and sculpture will be examined both as works collected and admired for their aesthetic qualities as well as examples of the culture in which they were produced. Considerations of style will be used to aid in answering questions regarding a work’s commission, production, and social significance.


HART 3140 Healing and Art in East Asia

Because the physical environments of healing, and the appearance of healing specialists, medicines, and the tools to consume them, impact the effectiveness of healing practice, much about a society’s conceptions of health and beauty can be explored through examining objects of curing and healing. In this course we will look at the influence of early healing practices on the development of the arts of China and their legacy in Japan. Topics to be examined include: magical healing texts and talismans; the art of the Buddha of Medicine, gardens and growing transformative herbs, and tea as medicine and art.


Spring 2020

HART 2100 Architecture and the Mapping of Empire in Asia

Empires in Asia were built through military and economic conquest. But after the dust settled, architecture, as the most visible and persistent public art, was used to sustain imperial identity and authority. Why did emperors, empresses, and aspiring officials in Asia sponsor monumental constructions, including cities, palaces, temples, tombs, universities, and museums? Was it to display their imperial aspirations, social stations, spiritual inclinations, or all of the above? Once established, how was visual culture used to expand the reach of those individuals and the corporate structures they represented? This course examines methods of mapping empire through the construction of highly visible, highly potent monuments. Major themes to be covered include cosmology in the construction of cities, temples, and gardens; physical manifestations of divine kingship and royal divinities, appropriation of ancient models to enhance legitimacy; architecture and the expression of ethnic/state identities across Asia from the 3rd century BCE through the 20th century CE.

HART 3164 Art of the Buddhist Relic and Reliquary

What do bones, mummies, gems, and blood writing all have in common? Why craft an exquisite vessel of the most precious materials just to bury or hide it? Throughout this course, we will discover answers to these questions and other intriguing paradoxes. You might be surprised to find out that the principles underlying these objects and issues that seem so distant from us are in fact ubiquitous in our contemporary society, from celebrity worship to Horcruxes. Revealing the subject to be transhistorical and transcultural, this course analyzes the veneration of Buddhist relics and the construction of reliquaries from a visual perspective by focusing on their art, ritual, and devotion as manifested in the material and visual cultures of India, China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. As a seminar course, the first part of each class will be lectures where I draw out certain points from the required readings, provide visual accompaniment, and present additional information to augment the week’s theme. The second half of the class will be student-led open discussions of the readings and topic.


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November 2022