Wei Lin

Associate Professor of Art History

Wei Lin is a study in contrasts.

Her academic research has largely focused on the Buddhist caves at Qixiashan, China, whose fifth-century drawings, completed under imperial patronage, have considerable historical import. However, she is currently developing Transylvania’s first art history course in anime, the late twentieth-century Japanese animation form known for its vibrant characters, action-filled plots, and futuristic themes. From contemplative cave drawings to animation for computer-generated video games—Lin’s interests run the gamut.

Lin also likes to travel, and she recently taught a May term travel course with former art history professor Nancy Wolsk where students had the opportunity to visit the Qixia temple and the nearby caves as part of their study of ancient and contemporary Chinese architecture. She hopes to develop a travel-related anime course in the future.

Originally a student of history and archaeology, Lin embraces the interconnectedness of the disciplines. While art history strives to place art in its historical context, archaeology requires field work, documenting physical evidence at significant sites and then analyzing the data. Archaeology is, in essence, a review of the visual records man has left behind.

Lin was naturally drawn to field work. As a young graduate student, she “picked archaeology over history because you could go to the field and visit the historic sites. It was rare to have those opportunities during that time.”

From their first year at Transylvania, students have intensive guidance and training for doing research. We try really hard to teach them our research methods—methods that are applicable to all fields, not just art history.

Here in the U.S., Lin has found a comfortable home at Transylvania. She welcomes the small class size that encourages close relationships between the faculty and the students, and she thinks the liberal arts education Transylvania students receive is the best possible undergraduate preparation. Emphasis is placed on writing and developing keen research skills, something Lin missed in her undergraduate education.

“Our students are wonderful. I like to work with students in a very close manner. At the very large university where I went for undergraduate, the classes were huge and the professors saw their job as to deliver the lecture. You didn’t have this connection between the professors and the students.”

Lin also appreciates the close working relationship among the Transylvania faculty. As a newly minted professor, she found “ideal models” here.

“I love to work with the senior professors. They are very dedicated scholars and teachers. They are very inspiring.”

And some of her good friends are among the other art faculty. They all genuinely enjoy each other’s company and readily consult each other professionally.

Lin exudes genuine enthusiasm when asked about working with Transylvania’s art program. “We are the best program! It’s kind of like family.”

Academic History

Ph.D., History of Art, The Ohio State University, 2006
M.A., Archaeology, Beijing University, 1994
B.A., History and Archaeology, Nanjing University, 1989

Courses Taught at Transy

Introduction to Asian Art
Chinese Calligraphy: History and Practice
Arts of China
Arts of Japan
Buddhist Art of Asia
Modern Chinese Art
Religious Expression in Asian Art
Anime: Pop Art & Culture
China’s Cities: Legacy of the Past, Incursions in the Present (May term travel course with professor Nancy Wolsk)
Early Chinese Art: Journey to the Land of Dragon (May term travel course with professor Dan Selter)

Areas of Research

Chinese Buddhist cave temples from the Six Dynasties (220–589) to the Tang dynasty (618–907)


Bingham Award for Excellence in Teaching, Transylvania University, 2012
David and Betty Jones Faculty Development Grant, Transylvania University, 2011, 2010
Bingham Start-Up Grant, Transylvania University, 2006–07
Author Meier Schlesinger Sr., Graduate Tuition Fellowship, The Ohio State University, 2006

Recent Publications

“Devotion to Amitāyus Pure Land: An Iconographic Study of Cave 19 at Qixiashan, China,” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 33 (2011), 116-34.

“Dunhuang,” Encyclopedia of Modern China, Vol. 1 (Charles Scribners & Sons; 2009), 44.

“Qixiashan Qianfoya qu Nanchao shiku de fenqi yanjiu 棲霞山千佛巖區南朝石窟的分期研究” (Periodization and Chronology of the Southern Dynasties Buddhist Caves at Qixiashan). Yanjing xuebao (The Yenjing Journal of Chinese Studies), new number 19 (2005): 275-308. [In Chines

“Xumishan Tangdai dongku de leixing he fengqi 須彌山唐代洞窟的類型和分期” (Typology and Periodization of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) Buddhist Caves at Xumishan). In Kaoguxue yanjiu (A Collection of Studies on Archaeology), no. 3 (Beijing: Science Press, 1997):116-137.

Professional Memberships

Association for Asian Studies
College Art Association
AsiaNetwork (A consortium of liberal arts colleges to promote Asian studies)