• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Asian Languages, Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Hsin-tien Liao
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Winter Session 2016
    See Future Offerings

This course has reached its full capacity of max. 20 students. To be placed on the waiting list, please email cap.student@anu.edu.au

 “Had I been born Chinese, I would have been a calligrapher, not a painter.” said Pablo Picasso. Why was calligraphy so attractive to him? Why has the art of writing lines become so appealing? Chinese calligraphy certainly is a “second to none” art form, and is without doubt the most important form of art in Chinese history. In daily and academic lives, Chinese words/characters are not only for embodying meaning, but also for various purposes of cultural expression, such as writing, artistic performing, religion, aesthetics and philosophy, social life and “tempering personality”. In fact, it is rare to find any Chinese literati without the ability to function in this art in earlier historical periods. Therefore, it can be said that Chinese culture truly is a filled “culture of words.”

Additionally, Chinese history is closely reflected in the long development of Chinese characters, which has evolved into different styles. It creates a set of delicate and profound Chinese aesthetic theory, which echoes Chinese art theory and philosophy, such as “the vacuity vs. substance” (or “the empty/illusionary” vs. “the real/full/solid/the substance”), and loose vs. density, or the dialectical relationship between“blackness vs. whiteness” (or the black line vs. the white space). Chinese calligraphy can also be said to be a unique abstract art through linear expression. In Taiwan, Mainland China, Korea and Japan, postgraduate degrees in calligraphy are offered in Chinese or art departments. Learning and knowing Chinese calligraphy as such is necessary for all Chinese studies, especially those wanting an advanced understanding about Chinese history and culture.

This course provides students with a general, yet profound, introduction to Chinese calligraphy. Through practice and knowledge acquirement, such as holding a brush, writing and knowing the knowledge of the "four treasures”, students can experience this ancient Chinese art and cultivate an interest for Chinese culture. As simplified Chinese has gradually become a dominant trend nowadays, traditional Chinese nevertheless is still a genuine access point to Chinese culture and Sinology in terms of its history, aesthetics and philosophy and literati circles. Simplified vs. traditional characters also reflects in different Chinese societies, namely Mainland China and Taiwan. Students will learn how to write and appreciate this “art of lines,” accompanied by the knowledge of its history and theory.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of issues in the history and culture of Chinese calligraphy;
2. Integrate theoretical and aesthetic knowledge into practical experience;
3. Appreciate and analyse this Chinese art form;
4. Put into practice comparative principles of reading traditional and simplified Chinese characters;
5. Develop basic skills of writing calligraphy.

Other Information

This course will run on the following days in the Baldessin Precinct Building, room E3.43. 

Monday 4 July - 1.30pm - 4pm
Tuesday 5 July - 9.30am - 4pm
Wednesday 6 July - 9.30am - 4pm
Thursday 7 July - 9.30am - 4pm

Monday 11 July - 1.30pm - 4pm 
Tuesday 12 July - 9.30am - 4pm
Wednesday 13 July - 9.30am - 4pm
Thursday 14 July - 9.30am - 4pm

Indicative Assessment

Course Participation - 10% (Related learning outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Course practice - 40% (Related learning outcomes: 2, 3, 4, 5)
A project for term exhibition and presentation - 50% (Related learning outcomes: 2, 5)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of courses.

Prescribed Texts

Barrass, Gordon S. The art of calligraphy in modern China. Berkeley: University of    California   Press.

Billeter, Jean François, 1990. The Chinese Art of Writing. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
Lai, T. C. 1973. Chinese Calligraphy: Its mystic beauty. Hongkong: Swindon Book Company.

Li, Wendan, 2009. Chinese writing and calligraphy. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i

Murck, Alfreda and Wen C. Fong eds. 1991. Words and images: Chinese poetry, calligraphy, and painting. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; Princeton : Princeton University Press.

Tseng, Yu-ho Ecke, 1971. Chinese Calligraphy. Philadelphia Museum of Art & Boston Book & Art, Publisher.

Willetts, William. 1981. Chinese calligraphy: its history and aesthetic motivation (the record of an exhibition of Chinese calligraphic art held in the University of Malaya from 17 October to 10 November 1977). Hong Kong; New York: Oxford University Press.

Yen, Yuehping. 2005. Calligraphy and power in contemporary Chinese society. London; New York: RoutledgeCurzon.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $2520
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3876
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6573 04 Jul 2016 08 Jul 2016 08 Jul 2016 15 Jul 2016 In Person N/A

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