Education About Asia: Online Archives

Calligraphy as a Resource in the East Asian Studies Curriculum

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Brush calligraphy, a fundamentally intercultural and interdisciplinary art form, can be extremely useful as a teaching tool in K-12 and undergraduate education about East Asia. The complexity of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing systems presents language instructors with formidable tasks in developing student literacy skills. For many students, however, the writing system is the major factor of their appeal.

Though brush calligraphy in its sophisticated forms requires considerable training and knowledge, at its most basic level, it has the capacity to offer a rewarding experience in creating visual art, even for beginners with little training in either an East Asian language or painting. This is true for students who, in a very short time, can learn enough to be able to create thoughtful and imaginative artwork. It is also true for instructors—even those who doubt their own level of mastery in calligraphy techniques—as it is possible to rely on excellent textbooks published in recent years, as well as a growing number of teaching materials available online.


Hsieh, Rebecca T., and Richard Hsieh. Chinese Calligraphy: Xuexi Zhongguo Shufa. Beijing: Peking University Press, 2008.

Li, Wendan. Chinese Writing and Calligraphy. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2009.


Barrass, Gordon S. The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Chiang, Yee. Chinese Calligraphy: An Introduction to Its Aesthetics and Technique, 3rd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974.

Elman, Benjamin A. “Language, Classicism, Calligraphy, and Cultural Reproduction.” A Cultural History of Civil Service Examinations in Late Imperial China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Ericson, Britta. Words Without Meaning, Meaning Without Words: the Art of Xu Bing. Washington, DC: Sackler Gallery, 2001.

Gaur, Albertine.  A History of Calligraphy. London: British Library, 1994.

Hamlish, Tamara. “Calligraphy, Gender and Chinese Nationalism.” Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation. Edited by Tamar Mayer. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Kraus, Richard C. Brushes with Power: Modern Politics and the Chinese Art of Calligraphy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Murck, Alfreda, and Wen C. Fong, eds. Words and Images: Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy, and Painting. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991. 

Silbergeld, Jerome and C. Y. Ching, eds. Persistence-Transformation: Text as Image in the Art of Xu Bing, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Stevens, John. Sacred Calligraphy of the East. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, 1996.

Yen, Yueh-Ping. Calligraphy and Power in Contemporary Chinese Society. Routledge, 2005.

Zhongshi Ouyang, Wen C. Fong, and Youfen Wang. Chinese Calligraphy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.


Oriental Art Supply,

Nadje Van Ghelue, The Art of Calligraphy,

May Wang, The Chinese Calligraphist,

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