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Reading Spaces and Places: Exploring East Asian Cities through the Visual and Literary Arts

City skyline



Reading Spaces and Places examined major cities in China, Japan and Korea across different eras to witness the emergence of these political and cultural centers as they responded to shifting politics, religious traditions, foreign incursions and natural disasters.

Reading spaces and places posterWe began our studies in Xi’an, China, formerly Chang’an, home of the First Emperor’s Army and the terminus of the Silk Road wherein we examined political shifts and the convergence of religious and philosophical traditions in the classical past. From there we moved to Nara and Kyoto, Japan to see the expansion of Buddhism into Japan and the shift from a decidedly Chinese influenced society to the emergence of a uniquely Japanese perspective. We concluded our study of major cities of East Asia in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries by looking at Beijing and Shanghai, China; Seoul, Korea; and Tokyo, Japan as each city center responded to imperialism, the war years, and the legacy of World War II. Our consideration of each location focused on literary and visual characteristics of each space as they were impacted by the events of world history.


July 27-31, 2015
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
University of Washington in Seattle


Melanie King, Art History faculty at Seattle Central College


View this collection on Goodreads.


Aside from the registration and boarding fees, this seminar was offered free of charge thanks to the Freeman Foundation NCTA grant to the East Asia Resource Center. Seminar benefits include:

  • 35 free Washington State clock hours, Montana OPI renewal units, or a certificate of completion
  • Course materials, including the books listed above
  • $100 for the purchase of additional teaching materials
  • A 2015-16 subscription to Education about Asia
  • Refreshments and lunches
  • Dormitory housing, meals, and travel stipend for a limited number of out-of-town participants


The above benefits were available to educators who attended all class sessions and completed all of the assignments. Participating teachers were asked to do out-of-class preparation, including readings and viewing online resources, and to complete a culminating assignment during the seminar week for use in their own classrooms.


The seminar was open to educators in grades K-12, including classroom teachers and specialists, who planned to apply the content in their classrooms. Substitutes were not eligible to apply. Applications were evaluated on potential classroom impact, which applicants a chance to discuss in their goals essay.