Faculty Profile

Katharine P. Burnett

Associate Professor of Art History
Faculty Director, Global Tea Initiative
Chinese Art and Culture

Ph.D., University of Michigan
M.A., University of Michigan
B.A., Wellesley College




Katharine Burnett conducts wide-ranging research on China from 1550 to present, exploring historical art theory and criticism, art and politics, art collecting and display, visual and material culture relating to the global tea trade.




Arts of Asia: this lecture course introduces major forms and trends in the arts and material culture of Asia from the Neolithic to the contemporary emphasizing the visual manifestation of secular and religious ideas and ideals.

Chinese Art: this lecture course exams 3000 years of Chinese art and culture from Neolithic through Tang Dynasty through a study of ceremonial and secular objects manifesting folk beliefs and belief systems of ancestor worship, Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. 

Chinese Painting: this lecture course consists of thematic and chronological examination of Chinese painting and culture from the Tang Dynasty through the early 20th century.

Early Modern Chinese Painting: this lecture course traces topics in Chinese art history from the 13th to the 19th centuries.

Art from China 1900 to the Present: this lecture course examines modern and contemporary Chinese art, exploring the historical context that shaped it, and the political situations that dictated many of its themes and forms.




Investigating the Canon: What is Chinese Painting? and Why?​

Sites and Sights: Travel Painting in 17th-Century China

Visual and Material Culture Relating to the Sino-Viet Trade in Tea and Tea Ware

Transmission and Transformation in 17th-Century Painting from China

Collectors and Collecting

Tea and Its Impact on Visual and Material Culture

Paradigms of Passion, Paradigms of Idiosyncrasy: Art and the State in the Late Ming

Comparative Decadence between the Jiajing and Wanli Eras

Modernism Comes to China

Great Cities of China

Art in the Turbulent Years: Chinese Art from 1850-Present

The Formation of Chinese Culture: Collections of Chinese Art in Early Twentieth-Century America, 2009.

China and the (Trans/Inter)national Art Exhibition, 18XX-2008, 2008.



Special Courses

Great Cities of China, Freshman Seminar

Global Tea Culture and Science, First Year Seminar (team taught), Lead Instructor





Shaping Chinese Art History: Pang Yuanji and His Painting Collection, Cambria Press, forthcoming.

Dimensions of Originality: Essays on Seventeenth-Century Chinese Art Theory and Criticism, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 2013.

Edited Volume

Guest Editor, Special Issue: “Decadence (or Not) in the Ming Dynasty,” Ming Studies 71 (May 2015)

Articles and chapters

“Art History without the Art: The Curious Case of Sino-Vietnamese Teapots before 1700,” in preparation.

“Dong Qichang,” co-author (section on Dong’s theory) with Celia Carrington Riely, Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. In press.

“Wu Bin.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. In press.

“The Global Tea Initiative at UC Davis,” in Kunbing Xiao, Guest Editor, “China Connections: Chinese Tea and Asian Societies,” IIAS Newsletter (International Institute for Asian Studies), Center for Global Asian, ed., Leiden University, No. 80, Summer 2018, p. 23.

“A New Look at a New Look: Painting and Theory of Seventeenth-Century China,” in Stephen Little, ed., 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2016, pp. 130-167.

“Decadence (or Not) in the Ming Dynasty: Introduction,” for Special Issue, “Decadence (or Not) in the Ming Dynasty,” Ming Studies, 71, (May 2015), pp. 3-4.

“Decadence Disrupted: Arguing Against a Decadence Model in Late Ming Painting History,” for Special Issue, “Decadence (or Not) in the Ming Dynasty,” Ming Studies, 71 (May 2015), pp. 41-57.

“Of Icons and Elvises: ‘Tibetan Spirit’ in Tsherin Sherpa’s New Art,” feature essay in Tsherin Sherpa: Tibetan Spirit, Rossi & Rossi Gallery, London, October 2012, pp. 4-15.

“Tibetan Buddhist Art in a Globalized World of Illusion: The Contemporary Art of Ang Tsherin Sherpa,” “西藏藝術在跨國化清淨的世界: 安才仁的當代畫,”in Elizabeth Childs-Johnson and Ying-Ying Lai, Guest Eds., Special Issue: “Art and Politics in Today’s China and Taiwan,” Modern Chinese Studies,[當代中國研究], vol. 18, no. 2, 2011, pp. 1-28.

“Mixing Water and Oil: Understanding Shimo in the Contemporary Global Art Market,” in Bin Feng and Shen Kuiyi, eds., Selected Essays from the International Symposium in Conjunction with Reboot, the Third Chengdu Biennale: the Third Chengdu Biennale, 重新启动: 第三届成都双年展 国际学术研讨会论文集 暨第一,二届成都双年展论文选 (Chong xin qi dong : di san jie Chengdu shuang nian zhan guo ji xue shu yan tao hui lun wen ji ji di yi er jie Chengdu shuang nian zhan lun wen xuan), Shijiazhuang Shi: Hebei mei shu chu ban she, 2007, pp. 74-79.

“Mixing Water and Oil: Understanding Shimo in the Contemporary Global Art Market,” Kuiyi Shen and Feng Bin, eds., Reboot: The Third Chengdu Biennial, Proceedings from the International Symposium, Chengdu, China, 2007, pp. 74-79.

“Mixing Water and Oil: Understanding Shimo in the Contemporary Global Art Market,” (Chinese version and English reprint) in Shimo, The Colors from My Heart: The Art of Shimo, 石墨,赋随彩心:石墨作品集, Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 2011, pp. 24-34.

“Mixing Water and Oil: Understanding Shimo in the Contemporary Global Art Market” (Chinese version and English reprint) in Shimo, Heaven: The Collection of Shi Mo’s Contemporary Painting. Shenzhen, China: Author Gallery, 2008, pp. 5-11.

“Lin Fengmian’s Legacy during the Cultural Revolution: The Case of Two Rebellious Watercolors,” Proceedings from the International Lin Fengmian 110th Anniversary Symposium, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China, 2010, pp. 115-127.

“A Proclamation of Originality: Wu Bin’s On the Way to Shanyin Handscroll,” Oriental Art, Vol. 51, No 1 (Spring, 2010), pp. 2-11.

“An Originalist’s Manifesto: Wu Bin’s inscription on On the Way to Shanyin,” Oriental Art, Vol. 51, No 2 (Summer, 2010), pp. 2-7.

“Inventing a New ‘Old Tradition’: Chinese Art at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” 《美術史與觀念史》 (Meishu shi yu guannian shi)/History of Art and History of Ideas, Nanjing: Nanjing Shifan University, April 2010, vol. ix, pp. 17-57.

“Late Qing-Early Republican Period Taste and the Case of Pang Yuanji,” The Elegant Gathering: The Yeh Family Collection symposium website, http://webcast.berkeley.edu/events/details.php?webcastid=15762, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, and University of California, Berkeley, 2006.

“Through Masters’ Eyes: Copying and Originality in Contemporary Chinese Landscape Painting,” Shanshui in Twentieth Century China, Shanghai: Shanghai Calligraphy and Painting Publishing House, 2006, pp. 317-334.

“Travel and Transformation: Wu Bin’s Enjoying Scenery along the Min River,” Oriental Art, vol. L, no. 4, (Winter 2006), pp. 2-15.

“晚明中國畫論中的獨創性話語,”(Wanming Zhongguo hualunzhongde duchuangxing huayu; a synthesis of “A Discourse of Originality in Late Ming Chinese Painting Criticism”), 《清華美術》 (Tsinghua Arts), Beijing: Tsinghua University Press, juan 2, 2006, pp. 62-68.

“Words on Word-Images: An Aspect of Dong Qichang’s Calligraphy Criticism,” Word & Image, vol. 19, no. 4, (October-December, 2003), 327-335.

“Taking Arts of Asia Online,” Education About Asia, vol. 8, no. 3 (Winter 2003), 26-29.

“Taking Arts of Asia Online,” republished in book format in: Ainslee Embree, Brian Platt, Helen Finken, and Robert L. Moore.

“To Live”: An Interview with the Author Yu Hua, Book Review and Film Review,” Education about Asia, vol. 8, no. 3, 2003.

“A Discourse of Originality in Late Ming Chinese Painting Criticism,” Art History, vol. 23. no. 4 (November 2000), 522-558.

Individual Status and the Family. Signs and Seats of Power in African Art, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1986, pp. 17-20.

Symbols of Significance: Motifs in Chinese Art. Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1989, exhibition brochure, 7 pp.

Chinese Ceramics in the Domino’s Collection. Ann Arbor: Fencepost, (December 1989), pp. 12-13.

Book Reviews

Michael Sullivan, The Night Entertainments of Han Xizai: A Scroll by Gu Hongzhong, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, in China Review International: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Greater China, vol. 10, no. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 245-247.

Stephen Little, ed., Taoism and the Arts of China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), in CAA.Reviews, http://www.caareviews.org/<http://www.caareviews.org/reviews/little2.html>, July, 2002, 3 pp.

Michael Sullivan, Art and Artists of Twentieth-Century China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 11, no. 2, Fall 1999, pp. 186-192.

The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-p’ing Collection (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1994), in Newsletter, East Asian Art and Archaeology, University of Michigan, September 1995, pp. 28-31.

Exhibition Review

Montien Boonma: Temple of the Mind, exhibition organized by the Asia Society, New York. Review of installation at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, February 25-May 23, 2004, for CAA.Reviews, http://www.caareviews.org/, November 4, 2004.

Media Interviews

“Zhang Daqian and the hot auction market for Chinese art,” Live interview on THE POINT, CGTN/China Global TV Network (formerly CCTV-NEWS), June 13, 2017.

Complete session: https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=Rs6sywa8FjA; Burnett interview segment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5AehvxY65A .
“Research and the Global Tea Initiative at UC Davis,” Live interview, Vietnam TV, Dec. 12, 2016.




2019 Nomination: Best Tea Educator – Individual, World Tea Expo, Las Vegas

2018 Best Tea Health Advocate, World Tea Expo, Las Vegas

2017 38th Annual George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award from Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA), for 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection, edited by Stephen Little (2016). Katharine Burnett, contributing author.



External Links

Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science

Japanese, Korean, and Chinese Responses to Japanese Expansionism in the Early 20th Century, East Asian Studies Program Colloquium, UC Davis, April 29, 2016

(530) 752-0285
Room 160, Everson Hall


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