AIA Lecturer/Host: Mimi Yiengpruksawan

Professor of the History of Art at Yale University

Mimi Yiengpruksawan (Ph.D., UCLA) lived in Japan for nearly a decade and traveled throughout Asia on the side, including the Silk Road network, in connection with her ongoing interest in looking at pre-modern Japan from a broad perspective that encompasses China and Korea. She is fluent in Japanese, and speaks some Chinese. As part of her research interest (as Faculty Director for the Yale Silk Road Seminars Project) she has accompanied groups of faculty into Xinjiang and Gansu (2005), Sichuan and Yunnan (2006), Inner Mongolia (2008), and Qinghai and Tibet (2010). Mimi has also been a study leader on a number of tours in Asia, including this Japan itinerary in 2004 and 2009 (the latter with the AIA).

Mimi has been teaching at Yale University since 1990. She was promoted to professor in 1998, served as chair of the Council on East Asian Studies from 2001 to 2007, and currently directs the undergraduate program in History of Art. Mimi has published extensively on Japan, including two books and numerous articles. Art and Catastrophe in the Japanese Middle Ages, her book on the cultural impact of natural disaster in early Japan and East Asia, is slated for publication in 2013. Mimi is particularly interested in the seagoing communities along the Sea of Japan (Eastern Sea) coast, and their importance to cross-cultural exchange encompassing China, Korea, and Japan. She also has maintained a longstanding interest in the representation of nature, especially birds and plants, in traditional Japanese painting.

In addition to providing general background in the art and archaeology of Japan through the medieval and early modern eras, she is interested in sharing some of her recent research on trade and cultural exchange in the Sea of Japan region and its impact on Japanese art and material culture from Buddhist art to ceramics and tea tastes. Topics that she plans to address during our voyage include the history of trade along the Sea of Japan coast, what types of objects were exchanged, what communities were living in the areas that we visit, and how the exchange of objects and culture inflected the development of traditional Japanese visual and material culture.

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