Dissertation Related Questions
This dissertation considered the inheritance of traditional art forms, or crafting skills, in China and most specifically with regard to the Mongolian culture in China. As China’s culture, especially their rural culture, changes, art forms are lost. This is in part because of the movement or rural groups into urban settings, and in part because of the changing economy. While other nations, like those that are part of the western culture, have been actively engaged in preserving their similar native art forms, China has allowed many of them to disappear. This dissertation, then focused on what efforts have been made by the Chinese culture, and what further efforts can be made by China’s government in order to preserve the art forms which are currently being lost.
What do you think you learnt on the dissertation project
I learned that art forms are lost for more than one reason. I realized that it is a combination of political, financial, and cultural factors that either ensure that an art form is preserved, or allow it to be lost. I also learned that many of those art forms that are being preserved are being updated in some way to ensure that they better fit within modern culture. I was most impressed by the governmental incentives to establish housing and studio space for artisans, and to increase the possible motives that young people have to enter into artistic fields. I also thought that an ongoing comparative of art conservation in western cultures and Chinese culture is both fascinating and highlights the changes that China must make in order to save/preserve its national artistic identity.
Comment on your access to primary sources, library and archives and general learning resources
The hardest sources to access are primary. Primary sources would have included access to interviews or private audiences with Chinese artisans, or political figures who effect policies that relate to the artistic preservation of Chinese cultures. I was able to travel to China and study the topic first hand, which gave me, personally, excellent primary sources, however, primary sources did not come easily and should not be considered easy to access as they relate to the topic. Secondary sources, library sources and archives however were much easier to access and were useful as they related to the topic. It was possible, through secondary literature, to track not only what political positions were impacting art and culture, but also to see what art forms are surviving or thriving, and which forms are historically interesting but lost in modern China. It was also primary through library and archive sources that I was able to study, in an in depth way, the kinds of preservation that are currently common in western society, specifically as they relate to or compare to eastern cultures.
Do you feel you have had adequate briefing about the dissertation and how it is assessed?
Yes, the purpose, style, and objectives of the dissertation process seemed clear to me. I think I did not fully understand before beginning the project, but the goals and objectives were clarified by the actual process of completing the dissertation. I think that I would have, perhaps, benefitted by going over a sample dissertation, and assessing it step by step. This would have given me a more specific view of how I would be assessed based on my understanding of the process and form.
Did you fulfill the original aims of your dissertation project?
I think that my original topic was too narrow, with the intention of concentrating solely on Mongolian crafts and culture, and I expanded that to include other traditional Chinese crafts from rural cultures, with special preference for the nomadic cultures like the Mongols. However, my purpose was still served, or aims were still met, in that I did demonstrate a clear loss of artistic culture, and a receding number of preserved art forms in China, and showed how they can be preserved in that culture despite increased urbanization. This position is reinforced by the clear demonstration that preservation has been achieved in Western nations who have made it a priority to protect native cultures and their art forms through art education and a clear focus on preserving their national identity through art. While China has made some elements of this preservation a priority, and have begun providing limited support for artisans within the urban setting, more must be done or a high percentage of their art forms will be lost as a result.