For Current Updates on COVID-19:

Sarah Laursen

Asst Prof of History of Art & Arch; Curator, Asian Art

 work(802) 443-5491
 Spring Term 2019-Monday 4:15 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Tuesday 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m, Thursday 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m, and by appointment
 Mahaney Arts Center 119



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1537 - Collecting China      

Collecting China
In this course we will delve into the world of Chinese art collecting, from its beginnings a thousand years ago in China's imperial palaces to the present-day?art market in Europe and North America. By studying objects, correspondence, catalogues, and recent scholarship, we will untangle the web of art dealers, collectors, and curators who formed the major U.S. collections of Chinese art in the twentieth century. We will also problematize early collectors’ perceptions of “the Orient” and the illicit export of antiquities. Each student will investigate a group of objects dispersed throughout Western museums, and as a class we will compile our findings into a digital exhibition project. 3 hrs. sem. ART CW NOA

Spring 2019

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HARC 0102 - Monuments and Ideas/Asian Art      

Monuments and Ideas in Asian Art*
This course is an introduction to the study of Asian art history through an investigation of selected art works, considered individually and in broader contexts. This course chronicles the evolution in painting, sculpture, and architecture, and other media of Asia. It is designed for those who wish to build a broad acquaintance with the major works and ideas of Asian art in their historical settings and to develop tools for understanding these works of art as aesthetic objects and bearers of meaning for the societies, group, or individuals that produced them. Registration priority given to first and second year students. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.. AAL ART CMP HIS NOA

Fall 2016

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HARC 0238 - Japanese Art      

Japanese Art
In this introductory survey we will explore the arts of Japan from the Neolithic Jomon period to the post-war era of the 20th century. Using assigned readings in conjunction with objects in our own museum collection, we will investigate how these artworks and monuments reflect the agendas, religious beliefs, and aesthetic tastes of the artists and patrons who created them. We will also explore themes such as advances in media and technology, the role of nationalism in art production, and indigenous versus imported artistic developments. 3 hrs. lect. AAL ART NOA

Spring 2019

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HARC 0248 - Gold/Sex/Death at the Museum      

Gold, Sex, and Death at the Museum
Most visitors to museums notice the architecture, carefully chosen collections, and meticulously curated special exhibitions. However, behind this façade is a busy network of museum professionals coordinating every aspect of the institution’s life. Through readings and guest lectures, we will explore how directors, curators, and staff navigate the challenges facing the modern museum, such as establishing acquisitions policies in an increasingly uncertain art market, defining ethical standards for conservation, and addressing audiences with ever-changing needs. Speakers such as a curator, art critic, and conservator will contribute to our discussion, and attendance at a series of public talks is required. 3 hrs. lect./disc. AMR NOR

Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

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HARC 0270 - Chinese Art      

Chinese Art
This course is an introductory survey of the arts of China from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. Considering works in their original context and in museum collections, we will investigate how art objects and monuments reflect the religious beliefs, political agendas, and aesthetic preferences of their creators. At the same time, we will pay particular attention to the local development of artistic technologies, the role of ethnic and national identity in art production, and China's place in the larger histories of the Silk Road and modern international commerce and diplomacy. 3 hrs. lect. AAL ART HIS NOA

Spring 2017, Spring 2020

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HARC 0355 - Digital Methods Art Historians      

Digital Methodologies for Art Historians: NW x NE
In this seminar we will apply new technologies to the study of ancient art. Our primary case study will be the ninth-century BCE relief of a winged genie at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, which will be considered alongside other panels from the Northwest Palace of King Ashurnasirpal II in the Assyrian capital at Nimrud in Iraq. The sculptures still in situ at this site were destroyed by ISIS in 2016, but fragments remain in nearly two dozen museums across the northeastern United States. In this class we will uncover the history of the creation, removal, collecting, and display of these works, while at the same time learning about the latest digital tools for data management, analysis, visualization, and imaging used by curators and art historians. Our larger goal will be contributing to an ongoing multi-institution project called "NW x NE" that aims to digitally reunify these works and facilitate the sharing of information and resources between museums. No prior experience with art history necessary. 3 hrs. sem AAL ART MDE

Fall 2018, Spring 2020

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HARC 0370 - How Asian Art is Made      

Potter, Painter, and Goldsmith: How Asian Art is Made
In this seminar we will explore the manner in which the distinctive artistic traditions of China, Korea, and Japan were shaped by the materials and techniques available to ancient craftsmen. Some of these technologies remained localized, while others—like porcelain and silk—went on to transform world history by fueling major export markets. Through observation of objects from the Middlebury Museum of Art, we will explore such questions as: How was Asian art made; Why was it made that way? What was its historical impact? Topics will include jade and other hardstones, bronze, textiles, ceramics, painting, lacquer, glass, and gold. AAL ART CW HIS NOA

Fall 2019

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HARC 0402 - Adv Research in Museum Studies      

Advanced Research in Museum Studies
Under the guidance of the curator of Asian art, students will research in depth an Asian artwork or group of artworks in the collection of the Middlebury College Museum of Art in preparation for the publication of a Handbook of the Collection. This course emphasizes independent research and scholarly writing; each student will build a bibliography, read extensively on the period and culture, write and revise a paper on the artwork(s), and craft one entry or more for the Handbook. Meetings will entail extensive research in the library and occasionally in the museum. Preference will be given to students who have taken HARC 0102 or other courses in Asian art and who have reading ability in languages appropriate to their topics. (Approval required). 3 hrs. sem. AAL ART

Spring 2017

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HARC 0510 - Advanced Studies      

Advanced Studies
Supervised independent work in art history, museum studies, or architectural studies. (Approval Required)

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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HARC 0540 - Independent Museum Studies      

Supervised Independent Work in Museum Studies
This practicum builds upon the Museum Assistants Program (MAP), the hands-on museum education program at the Middlebury College Museum of Art. In MAP, the Curator of Education trains students to conduct tours of the Museum’s permanent collection and of special exhibitions for audiences of peers, school groups, and the general public. Combining service learning with the opportunity to both support and learn more about the arts, students gain expertise in public speaking, art history, and public programming. HARC 0540 should be taken concurrently with the second semester of MAP. The class will culminate with a public presentation on a museum-related topic evaluated by a faculty member of the Department of History of Art & Architecture. (Approval required)

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

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Ph.D., Chinese Art History, University of Pennsylvania, East Asian Languages &2011 Civilizations, Philadelphia, PA

“Leaves that Sway: Gold Xianbei Cap Ornaments from Northeast China” Committee: Dr. Nancy Steinhardt, Dr. Victor Mair, Dr. Annette Juliano

M.A., University of Pennsylvania, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, Philadelphia, PA2005

B.A., New York University, East Asian Studies and Art History, New York, NY2002


 Proficient: Mandarin Chinese French Italian

Reading Knowledge: Classical Chinese Japanese • Korean • German Portuguese Spanish


“Split Personalities in Northern Zhou Tombs: A Review of Mortuary Art in theSept., 2012 Northern Zhou China (557–581 CE): Visualization of Class, Role, and Cultural Identity, by Jui-man (Mandy) Wu,”

“Caps and Crowns in East Asian Diplomacy”(under review)

“Art and Technology in a Chinese Gold Cicada Plaque,” co-authored with(under review) Donna Strahan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum Experience

Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 

Harvard Art Museums, Department of the Registrar, Cambridge, MA

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Asian Art Department, New York, NY

Brooklyn Museum of Art, Asian Art Department, New York, NY Assisted Chinese art curator in preparing for an exhibition of Chinese bronzes


Department of History of Art & Architecture

Eliza Garrison, Chair
Michaela Davico, Department Coordinator

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753