Walter Davis

Associate Professor, History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture
Advisor, HADVC Honors

Office: 3-91B Fine Arts Building
(780) 492-7875

Areas of Teaching and Research

I teach the history of East Asian art in both the Department of Art and Design and the Department of East Asian Studies.

My undergraduate offerings include surveys of Chinese and Japanese art, design, and visual culture and focused lecture and seminar courses on aspects of Chinese painting, the Buddhist art of South and East Asia, modern Chinese art, modern Japanese art, and cartographic and landscape representation in East Asia. Periodically I teach an on-site course on modern Japanese art and design in Kyoto, Japan for the Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research. I also supervise undergraduate honors theses on topics in Chinese and Japanese art history. My supervisees have earned an internship at the Smithsonian Institution through the Alberta Smithsonian Internship Program, a Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Researcher Award, and the University's Dr John MacDonald Medal in Arts.

At the graduate level, I supervise MA and PhD research in the history of early modern and modern Chinese painting and in the history of modern Sino-Japanese artistic and cultural exchanges. I encourage my students to engage with the University of Alberta's Mactaggart Art Collection, which has strong holdings in late imperial Chinese painting and textiles. Several of my students have incorporated its riches into their theses and have worked as curatorial interns and gallery assistants for the collection. I also advocate for my students' dissemination of their research at graduate student and professional conferences, and several have presented at such gatherings as the Stanford-Berkeley Graduate Student Conference in Premodern Chinese Humanities, the Harvard East Asia Society Conference, and the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs Annual Meeting. Students who have completed MA degrees under my supervision have gone on to PhD programs at the University of Sydney, The Ohio State University, and Cambridge University, and they have also found employment at the University of Alberta and in the private sector.

My current research focuses on Sino-Japanese visual culture of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, visual representation of the supernatural in early modern China and Japan, and cartographic and landscape representation in China. My publications include the exhibition catalogue All under Heaven: The Chinese World in Maps, Pictures, and Texts from the Collection of Floyd Sully (Edmonton: University of Alberta Libraries, 2013), which won the American Library Association's Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibition Catalogue Award (Category 1, Expensive) for 2014, and "Art, Aesthetics, and Religion in Modern China," in Modern Chinese Religion II: 1850-2015, eds. Vincent Goossaert, Jan Kiely, and John Lagerwey (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 197-257. My monograph Culture in Common: Wang Yiting's Art of Exchange with Japan will soon be published by Brill.


BA (Honors), University of Kansas; MA, University of Kansas, 1998; PhD, Ohio State University, 2008

After studying Classical Languages and Philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Kansas, I completed an MA in East Asian Art History at the University of Kansas under Marsha Haufler and a PhD in History of Art at the Ohio State University under Julia F. Andrews. My graduate training focused on premodern and 20th-century Chinese painting and calligraphy, premodern Japanese painting, and the Buddhist art of South, Inner, and East Asia. Before I began teaching at the University of Alberta in 2007, I studied at Nanjing University in China, taught English in Kobe, Japan, conducted dissertation research under Hiromitsu Kobayashi at Sophia University in Tokyo, and taught at Ohio University and Lewis & Clark College in the United States. In addition to teaching and conducting research at the University of Alberta, I have also served in such administrative roles as Associate Chair (Undergraduate Programs) for the Department of Art and Design, Interim Chair of the Department of East Asian Studies, and Acting Director of the Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research.