ARTH 193B: East Meets West (SJSU Studies Upper GE Area V)

Sasanian silver plate

Time: Fall 2016 MW 9:00-10:15 a.m.

Location: Art Bldg. 135

Supplemental URL:


This course will demonstrate the rich diversity of art forms that developed from the interactions of the various peoples of the East and West from early times to the present, primarily along the routes known collectively as the Silk Road. Coined in the nineteenth century by Ferdinand von Richthofen, the term “Seidenstrasse” or the Silk Road is not one road, but a network of land and sea routes that stretch some 5000 miles connecting the East and the West. Along this road, passed inventions such as paper, maps, the compass and the astrolabe, to name a few, in addition, to the glorious material known as silk. This course will study art works produced at either end of, and along, the Silk Road to follow the passage of ideas and motifs that demonstrate the connections of cultures and peoples at either ends of the globe. A study of these art works, from architecture, painting, manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, metalwork, and other forms of art, including contributions by women, can help students understand the influences of history and geography, as well as religion, culture, and politics, on art production. More importantly, perhaps, students will see that the arts of the past still influence the present. The emphasis of the course will be on the production of art outside the US, which in turn will have a profound affect on the development of American culture and society. The give and take between the East and West is something that continues to this day. It is hoped that through the study and discussion required in the course that students will come to appreciate the rich tapestry of the cultural traditions of the world and reach a more sound understanding of the similarities and differences in diverse human cultures.