Let me just say, first off, that Lawrence should’ve had an Asian Art History professor years ago, but I’m thrilled that we’re getting one now! Curse these small department budgets and western priorities!!
Anyway, since I wasn’t able to attend Jennifer Angus’ talk last Friday, I’m writing about the Asian Art History professor job talk given by Christina Spiker on Thursday. I went to this because I love Asian art and I want to be In The Know with this selection process, because it’s such a big step for Lawrence. You should all come to the next candidate’s talk today at 4:30!
The title of Christina Spiker's talk was “Bumbling Tourists in the Indigenous Village: Kondō Kōichiro’s Ainu Illustrations, 1917” and I think she tackled this topic with a lot of enthusiasm and expertise . She clearly knows a lot about the early 20th century Japanese tourism illustrations she’s discussing (which makes sense if she’s writing a dissertation about it) and she also was very aware of how these very specific prints depicting the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, fit into a global history of imperialism and ethnic tourism implemented not only by Westerners, as people often think. I learned a lot from her talks about the Ainu people and how they are represented– and misrepresented– by these strange tourists. In addition, it was interesting to learn about early japanese newspaper printing and illustration, and this artist who both wrote and illustrated his adventures– a bit of a push and he could’ve become an early comics artist!
All in all, I think Spiker came at this subject with a lot of perspective and subtlety, and I was very impressed with her talk. It’s clear that she knows and cares a great deal about Asian art, and is equally concerned with it’s global context and relevance to today’s world, which is exactly what I, at least, want for this position. If I have time next year, I would love to take classes from her.