The Sogdians were the middlemen of the transcontinental trade known as the Silk Road, amassing great wealth, which financed a flowering of civilization in their homeland–the area around Samarkand in present-day Uzbekistan. But they were also purveyors of culture to their imperial neighbors, transporting craftsmen, artists, Buddhist monks and others, and introducing new artistic and religious ideas and contributing to military and diplomatic affairs as far west as Europe and as far east as Japan from as early as 550 BCE until approximately 1000CE. Despite their remarkable influence, the Sogdians remain an understudied and underrepresented culture in the history of Eurasian studies.
This team-taught, project-based course will investigate Sogdian culture and explore how best to use digital media to create a fuller, multi-faceted portrait of them. As part of an ongoing digital exhibition project at the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian museums of art — the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery – aimed at increasing awareness of Sogdian importance in the region, students will work to find ways to tell the story of how Sogdians’ adaptability and mobility allowed them to influence the art and culture of people across Asia without the traditional trappings of empire wielded by the adjacent Iranian, Chinese, and Byzantine empires.
Students will work with scholars of Sogdian culture, with curators from the Smithsonian, and with digital exhibition specialists. Students will research topics relevant to the Sogdians and explore questions of interaction and digital design to develop texts for the exhibition and prototypes for the design of the exhibition’s web site. The course will show the practical applications of collaborative interdisciplinary humanities scholarship and highlight the challenges of making coherent and complex intellectual arguments for broad audiences in the digital medium.
Additional Support Faculty, Curators, Staff
· Nancy Micklewright, Head, Public and Scholarly Engagement, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institute
· Sören Stark, Assistant Professor of Central Asian art and Archaeology, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU
· Judith Lerner, Visiting Research Scholar, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU
· Aleksandr Naymark, Professor of Fine Arts, Design, Art History, Hofstra University
· J. Keith Wilson, Curator of Ancient Chinese Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institute
· Jesse Merandy, Director of the Digital Media Lab, Bard Graduate Center
Directions to Bard Graduate Center
M86 cross-town, M10 on Central Park West, M7 or M11 on Columbus Avenue
B or C train to 86th Street and Central Park West; walk 1/2 block west.
1 train to 86th Street and Broadway; walk 2.5 blocks east.
DRAP-GA 3009-001 (24525)
LAG Student Tech Ctr
Bard Graduate Center
38 W. 86th St.
Prof. Kimon Keramidas
Draper Interdisciplinary Program
Office Hours: Thurs. 4-6pm
Prof. Abigail Balbale
Bard Graduate Center
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 2-4
P: 212 501 3086