• 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 Mark Strange
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Summer Session 2019
    See Future Offerings

A maximum of 25 students can enrol in this course. Email cap.student@anu.edu.au to apply to enrol or be added to the waitlist.

 “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

A maximum of 25 students can enrol in this course.

This course has capped numbers and so there will be a competitive selection process for enrolment. To apply, please submit a 200-word statement of why you are interested in taking this course and how it might benefit your academic studies. Students will be selected based on their application statement and on their demonstrated interest in the course at interview. Past academic performance will also be taken into consideration. Preference will be given to students who have previously studied Asian languages or Asian Studies. 

Statements should be submitted to the CAP Student Centre at cap.student@anu.edu.au, before 5pm on Monday 3 December 2018. 

If you have questions about the course, the application, or selection process please contact the course convener.

Indicative Assessment

Course Participation - 10% (LOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Oral presentation and analysis - 20% (LOs: 1, 2, 3, 4)
Final exhibition art work - 50% (LOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Interpretation card for final exhibition art work - 20% (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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This in-class period of this course will run from 4-15 February 2019. 

Mondays - Thursdays 6.5hrs per day
Fridays - 3hrs per day

Venue and exact times TBC, please check the ANU timetable website closer to the time. 

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed at least 24 units of university 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
2019 $3000
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $4560
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

Summer Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1650 04 Feb 2019 04 Feb 2019 15 Feb 2019 03 Mar 2019 In Person View

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