Directions and Guidelines for the Take-Home Midterm Examination
The objective of this take-home midterm examination is to teach you how to
connect, to synthesize, and to assess critically and imaginatively the different
cultural, religious, artistic, aesthetic, concepts, ideas, race and ethnicity that I
have presented in class lectures. In addition, these themes (such as visual
narrative, religion, theory of aesthetic, ethnicity, race and the body) are discussed
in articles in your course reader. Please note that this is not a research paper so
you do not need to read literature other than what I have assigned in the course
reader (pdfs posted on eCommons under weekly readings).
Drawing upon material from class lectures, in-class discussions, and readings
included in your course reader, please write ONE three-page (i.e., minimum one
three-page–maximum five-page essay–per question), double-spaced essays
(with one-inch margins and 12 points font; be sure to number your pages),
answering ONE of the following questions below. When it is apt and the
questions call for it, please structure each essay around a thesis statement and
organize your thoughts and discussion of the images into a cohesive argument.
Please do not forget to number your pages, and please reference material in
proper footnotes (or endnotes). In order to help your TAs with grading, we ask
that you use the MLA (Modern Language Association) style of footnoting. Please
make use of the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL):
Note: should you need to learn how to footnote, this is a very useful online
Please note that we do not accept Web sites as sources (i.e., do not use Google or
Wikipedia for this assignment). We will only accept take-home midterm exam
essay submitted through eCommons. No late take-home exam essay will be
accepted! We will not read drafts of your take-home midterm essay; however, we
would be more than happy to discuss the exam questions with you during our
respective office hours so that we can teach you how to synthesize the materials
covered in class and further your knowledge about the art history and visual
cultures of Southeast Asia.
Warning: Failure to follow the above directions and guidelines will risk failure of
the take-home midterm exam.
PLAGIARISM: What is plagiarism?
See these websites: http://library.ucsc.edu/help/research/what-is-plagiarism
Academic Integrity UCSC: http://www.ue.ucsc.edu/ai_definitions
Student Misconduct: https://www.ue.ucsc.edu/academic_misconduct
N.B.: In the age of great internet access and smart phone, we all turn to google
for information and thus it is very important that you avoid copying information
and writings from the internet and claim them as your own work. Please be
honest and respectful of copyright laws by footnoting and crediting your sources
Warning: If you get caught plagiarizing, you will get an automatic “F” on the
assignment and in the course. We will report your misconduct to the provost of
your respective colleges and your case will be handled according to the
regulations and policies as outlined in the above websites.
Take-Home Midterm Examination Questions
images are our primary texts. Each of the following exam questions is
accompanied by a set of images (see the PowerPoint posted on eCommons). It is
important that you ground your discussion and arguments on the set of images
associated with each exam question. In addition, you need to demonstrate your
knowledge of the readings included in your course readers that are relevant to
the exam questions you are addressing.
1) Discuss the three interpretations put forward by scholars from the colonial
and postcolonial periods. Please ground your discussion of these three
interpretations in the images rendered on the tympanum and the body of
the drum. Which one of these three interpretations do you find most
convincing? Or, you might find that all three interpretations are
interrelated and convincing as an argument, but in any case, you must tell
us why. How do the images rendered on the “rain” or “frog” drum of the
karens and their functions (in present day Myanmar (Burma) shed lights
on meaning of images and functions of the Ngoc Lu Drum.
Note: Please provide date, material, and provenance (that is, where was it
found, and where is it located now) of the Ngoc Lu Drum.
2) Please provide date, name of patron, material, and provenance of
Borobudur and Prambanan temple. What religions do these two
respective monuments embodied? What is a visual narrative? How does
Aristotle define a narrative? How do the visual narrative of stories
rendered on stone bas reliefs at Borobudur and Prambanan temple
contradict Aristotle’s definition and requirement of a narrative? Discuss
how Hindu and Buddhist ritual movement dictates and thus parallels
with the direction in which visual narrative is supposed to be viewed at
Prambanan and Borobudur.
Note: Please be sure to look closely and analyze images of jatakas in the
PowerPoint posted on eCommons.
3) Please provide date, name of patron, material, and provenance of
Borobudur. What school(s)of Buddhism does Borobudur represent?
Discuss how the three spheres reflect the mental and bodily experience of
viewer/visitor at Borobudur. What does this experience tell us about the
relationship between body and mind in Buddhism? How does this mental
and physical experience engage with and reflect the Buddhist doctrine as
embodied by the edifice? Is Borobudur a stupa or a mandala, and why?
(Please be sure to define these two terms clearly.)
4) Imagine that you are an art historian and anthropologist (admittedly
anachronistic, but…) from the island of Sumba. You have just returned
from a six-month visit to the island of Java in the year 1541 CE. You came
from a culture of great megaliths, mamuli and hinggi. Two of the temples
you have visited on your tour of Java were Borobudur and the newly built
Chandi Sukuh. You are writing a letter back home to your family
explaining your physical and intellectual experience of these two temples.
How would you describe your physical, mental, and spatial experience of
Borobudur? Which one of these two temples is far more similar to your
Sumbanese culture? Compare and contrast the spatial experiences of these
two temples to your folks back home. You should get them all excited so
that they too will be curious enough to take the next boat to Java. Note:
Good fiction is always most factual, so please get the dates and history of
each temple straight. This is an opportunity for you to write a historically
grounded fictional narrative.
Warning: Question #4 is designed to foster the creative side of your imagination,
so please take this task and creative exam question seriously. We reserve the
right to give you an F on your exam essay should you be frivolous and facile
(this means: please don’t give us rubbish).
5) Discuss how the material cultures (i.e., style of clothing, jewelries,
ceramics) are visual markers of the Peranakan ethic identity in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Singapore. What does the term Peranakan mean? How does
this merging of an imported culture from China and the local cultures
through inter-ethnic marriage tell us about how ethnicity, race and
cultural identity are not fossilized or static, but evolving and thus
contribute to the invention of a new and different cultural identity in
multi-ethnic and multicultural “contact zones” in Malaysia, Singapore and
Indonesia? The term “contact zone” is used and defined by Mary Louise
Pratt as “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each
other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as
colonialism, slavery, or their aftermath as they are lived out in many parts
of the world today.”1
Note: You can limit your discussion in question 4 to one nation if it helps you
to focus on one particular “contact zone” where different ethnic groups and
6) Discuss the significance of shadow puppets and shadow play in the
Javanese and Balinese culture of Indonesia. What is the meaning of
shadow in this art form? How might one interpret and understand a
shadow puppet? Is it a painting, a piece of sculpture, an instrument for
performance and storytelling or all of the above? Discuss the four clowns
in Indonesian shadow play? What are their names? How are they related
to each other? Are they simply “sidekicks” meant to provide laughter? If
not, what subversive and moral roles do they play?