Picturing China: Qing-Dynasty Photography and Fashion

Scottish photographer John Thomson left a stunning visual record of nineteenth-century China in the waning days of the Qing Dynasty. Inspired by the museum’s fall exhibition China: Through the Lens of John Thomson (1868–1872), the museum's 2015 fall symposium will feature presentations by a panel of international photography and textile scholars. The talks will examine how Thomson’s images and period fashions have had lasting impact on how China is pictured today. 

Symposium Presentations

Saturday, November 7, 2015
GW Media and Public Affairs Building
805 21st Street, NW
9 AM to 5 PM

Power Into Play: Theater and Qing Court Culture
Liana Chen, Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, the George Washington University

Through China With a Camera
Nick Pearce, Sir John Richmond Chair of Fine Art, University of Glasgow

Beyond John Thomson: Earlier Photographic Studios in China
Tong Bingxue, Author and Private Collector, Beijing

Daily Dress in Late Qing China: Spotting the Difference Between Manchu and Han
Antonia Finnane, Professor of History in the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne

Ribbons, Borders, and Trimmings: Fashionable Garments and Accessories in John Thomson’s China
Rachel Silberstein, Lecturer, History of Art and Visual Culture, Rhode Island School of Design

Roundtable discussion
Moderated by exhibition curators Betty Yao, MBE, managing director at Credential International Arts Management; and Lee Talbot, curator at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum.

Join us on Friday night for a special pre-symposium event.

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Friday, November 6, 2015
The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum
701 21st Street, NW
5:30 PM

Symposium registrants are invited to join the the museum’s first-ever PechaKucha 20x20 format program (a presentation style of twenty slides shown for twenty seconds each). The evening will feature multiple speakers on topics relating to travel, textiles, and other art in Asia.

To submit a presentation for consideration, please email the following information to the Education Department by October 31, 2015:

  1. Three to four images that best represent the content of your proposed presentation (anything relating to travel, textiles, or other art in Asia).
  2. Your name, the title of your presentation, and a brief outline.
  3. A brief artist statement, or bio, to be used for promotional purposes.


Rates: $270/museum members; $325/public
Advance registration is required; space is limited. Register online or call 202-994-7394. Please note that refunds will not be available after October 7, 2015.

GW Students, Faculty, and Staff Rates: Symposium registration is free for current GW students, faculty, and staff. To register, please contact Tom Goehner at [email protected]

The 2015 fall symposium is made possible in part by support from the George Washington University Confucius Institute.