MIT Students Explore Chinese Culture Through Calligraphy

This past January in IAP, seventeen MIT students, a few of whom had no prior knowledge of Chinese language, took a daily journey through Chinese culture by learning calligraphy — the traditional artistic way of writing Chinese characters with an ink brush. “Chinese Calligraphy” is a new Global Studies and Languages subject taught by Kang Zhou, a Lecturer in Chinese, and offered for the first time in IAP 2018. With Zhou’s expert guidance, the students took up brush and ink, and set to work producing the traditional calligraphic scrolls that are displayed at Chinese New Year to bring in luck for the year.

A new HASS-A course, “Chinese Calligraphy” offers students opportunities to both discuss the meaning and evolvement of the Chinese characters and classical Chinese aesthetics among other culture-related issues, and to practice calligraphy under the tutelage of the instructor. Starting from how to hold brushes on the first day of the class, the students concluded the class by making up their own calligraphic works, beside mini movie essays to present their thoughts on Chinese calligraphy and culture.  The group also collectively created a pair of Spring Festival scrolls 春联 to welcome the upcoming Chinese New Year when, they say, they would love to continue exploring Chinese culture and language.