The Place of Meaning: Gardens in Britain and China (HUM3015)

StaffDr Yue Zhuang - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesNone
Co-requisitesNone
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module introduces you through cross-cultural comparative perspectives to the art of gardens in China and Britain. You will develop critical tools for understanding the layered cultural meanings of garden space in China and Britain of both past and present. You will engage with a range of perspectives bringing together mythological, philosophical, psychological, as well as sociopolitical and environmental contexts. Together we shall develop, experience and explore the possibilities of understanding gardens as places in which diverse cultural inheritances and ideas may be woven, and in doing so, we shall search for the wholeness of being in ourselves as well as the planet. You will form a sound foundation for comparative art history and master a set of interdisciplinary methods and tools for cultural studies. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a sound understanding of the chosen garden examples, including reference to their place in the cultural, historical, and generic context of their time.
  • 2. Analyse coherently the space and meaning of particular gardens and their representations (e.g. paintings and texts) over different historical periods and their cultural contexts.
  • 3. Compare the space and meaning of particular gardens in different historical and cultural contexts.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. With some guidance from the course tutor, evaluate and apply a range of critical approaches to the material covered.
  • 5. Mount a detailed argument in the appropriate register of English, mustering a range of textual and visual / spatial evidence in support.
  • 6. Master a set of interdisciplinary methods and tools for art history, philosophy, literature and cultural studies.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Undertake defined learning activities with a measure of autonomy, asking for guidance where necessary
  • 8. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • ‘Gardens as private/personal space’ includes case studies such as Stourhead, Studley Royal, Courances, Plaz Metaxu and Zhuozhengyuan (The Humble Administrator’s garden);
  •  ‘Gardens as public/political space’ covers examples such as Alexander Pope’s Twickenham villa, William Shenstone’s The Leasowes, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, and a Chinese garden theme of Taohuayuan (‘Peach Blossom Spring’);
  • ‘Gardens for healing’ explores the potential of how gardens can not only improve our well-being but also help us rethink pressing issues such as climate change and how humanity intersects with nature.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
231270

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching16Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching7Field trips
Guided Independent Study127Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Mini essay 750 words1-8Written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
10000

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay903500 words1-8Written
Participation and engagement10Five 400-word response papers1-8Oral (seminar discussion)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Referral/deferral period
Participation and EngagementRepeat study/mitigation1-8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bush, Susan, and Hsio-yen Shih. Early Chinese Texts on Painting.  Cambridge, MA: Published for the Harvard-Yenching Institute by Harvard University Press, 1985.
  • Cooper, David. A Philosophy of Gardens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Forbes, Alasdair. On Psyche’s Lawn; The gardens at Plaz Metaxu. Pimpernel Press, 2020.
  •  Giesecke, Annette and Naomi Jacobes eds, Earth Perfect: Nature, Utopia, and the Garden. London: Black dog Publishing, 2012.
  • Hunt, John Dixon. Nature Over Again: The Garden Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Reaktion Books, 2008.
  • Keswick, Maggie, and Charles Jencks. The Chinese Garden: History, Art & Architecture.  London: Academy Editions, 1978 [2002].
  • Leslie, Michael. ed., A Cultural History of Gardens. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.
  • Li, Zehou. The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition, translated by Maija Bell Samei. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2010,
  • Porter, David, The Chinese taste in eighteenth-century England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010,
  • Richardson, Tim. The Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden. Bantam Press, 2007.
  • Tao Te Ching, by Lao tzu, trans. John Minford, Viking Publishing, 2018.
  • Zhuang, Yue. and Andrea Riemenschnitter eds, Entangled Landscapes: Early Modern China and Europe, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2017.
  • Ziporyn, Brook. Zhuangzi: The essential writings, with selections from traditional commentaries. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2009.

Module has an active ELE page?

Yes

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

01/01/2020

Last revision date

11/08/2023

Key words search

Gardens, meaning, private/ public, China, Britain