Amy McNair

Professor, Chinese Art
Primary office:
209-A Spencer Museum of Art



1989 —Ph.D. in Art History, University of Chicago
1982 —M.A. in Art History, University of Washington
1978 —B.A. in Art History, University of Oregon

Professional Experience

2008- Present —Professor, University of Kansas
1998-2008 —Associate Professor, University of Kansas
1992-1998 —Assistant Professor, University of Kansas
1991 —Lecturer, University of Southern California

Selected Publications

Xuanhe Catalogue of Paintings: An Annotated Translation with an Introduction, Cornell East Asian Series, 2019.

“Letters as Calligraphy Exemplars: The Long and Eventful Life of the Imperial Commissioner Liu Letter by Yan Zhenqing (709-785),” in A History of Chinese Letters and Epistolary Culture. Edited by Antje Richter. Leiden: Brill, 2015, pp. 53-96.

“Brushwork and Beyond: The Study of Chinese Calligraphy in America and Europe,” in Proceedings from the 2014 College Art Association Distinguished Scholar Session in Honor of Wen C. Fong, Princeton: P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 2015, pp. 43–62. 

“Calligraphy.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Chinese Studies. Edited by Tim Wright. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 

“Patronage of Buddhist Buildings and Sovereignty in Medieval China: Four Cases from the Northern Wei Dynasty.” In Stifter und Mäzene und ihre Rolle in der Religion: Von Königen, Mönchen, Vordenkern und Laien in Indien, China und anderen Kulturen. Edited by Barbara Schuler. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013, pp. 19-42.

“Looking at Chinese Calligraphy:  The Anxiety of Anonymity and Calligraphy from the Periphery.” In Looking at Asian Art.  Edited by Katherine R. Tsiang and Martin J. Powers.  Chicago: The Center for the Art of East Asia, Department of Art History, University of Chicago, 2012, pp. 53-74.

"The Ending of the Law and the Hope of Salvation: Some 6th Century Chinese Buddhist Sculptures in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art," Orientations 39, no.8 (Nov/Dec 2008): 80-84 [PDF article]

"Ways of Reading and Writing in Medieval Chinese Relief Shrines: Examples from Guyang Grotto, Longmen," Zurich Studies in the History of Art 13/14 (2006-07): 186-205  [PDF article]

Donors of Longmen: Faith, Politics, and Patronage in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Sculpture. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007.

"The Relief Sculptures in the Binyang Central Grotto at Longmen and the 'Problem' of Pictorial Stones," in Between Han and Tang: Visual and Material Culture in a Transformative Period, ed. Wu Hung, Beijing: Wenwu Press, 2003, 157-89.

"Buddhist Literati and Literary Monks: Social and Religious Elements in the Critical Reception of Zhang Jizhi's Calligraphy," in Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism, ed. Marsha Weidner, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001, pp. 73-86 [PDF article]

"On the Tang-dynasty Patronage of Nuns at the Wanfo Grotto, Longmen," Artibus Asiae LIX, 3/4 (2000):161- 188.

The Upright Brush: Yan Zhenqing's Calligraphy and Song Literati Politics. Honolulu, University of Hawai'i Press, 1998.


National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship. Topic: "Lives of the Imperial Painters: Chinese Biographies in Translation," a translation of the 12th-century Catalogue of the Imperial Painting Collection in the Proclaiming Harmony Era.

Doctoral Dissertations Chaired

Zhao, Yi, "Images of Buddhist Heavens and Pure Lands in Early Medieval China (Third to Sixth Century CE)," in progress.

Zhu, Pinyan, "Longmen under Emperor Wu Zhao (r. 690–705): A Visionary Experience of the Heavenly Cemetery, Statues, and Huayan Buddhism," in progress.

Gao, Ruiying, “Collating Nature as Culture: Materia Medica Images in Ming China,” in progress.

Yan, Weitian, “Envisioning Antiquity: Yi Bingshou and the Politics of Memory in the Qing Dynasty,” in progress.

Liu, Ai-lian, “Yang Weizhen (1296–1370) and the Social Art of Painting Inscriptions,” 2011.

Kucera, Karil, “Cliff Notes: Text and Image at Baodingshan,” 2002.

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