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Katharine Burnett appointed Chair

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Katharine Burnett is happy to share that she has just been appointed to be Chair of her Department of Art History at the University of California, Davis. There, she continues her role as Founder and Director of the Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science. These endeavors feed her entrepreneurial impulses and intellectual needs to engage with other likeminded souls on campus and around the world. She is thrilled at this phase in her career to be able to take on new and fascinating research projects.

The understanding and appreciation of art history and tea come together in her newest research over teapots. In “What Does Philosophy Got to Do, Got to Do with It? Why Small Teapots Look So Playful, Starting in the Ming Dynasty,” she is exploring the close relationship between art theorists in elite literati culture and the bespoke yet commoner-level production of the small-scale teapots newly being created at Yixing.

Likewise, because ceramic art is a practical art where form follows function, through the unique and complex form of the teapot she is tracing the development of its form and then the spread of tea culture from China to SE Asia during the formative tea-brewing years in “Art History without the Art: The Curious Case of Sino-Vietnamese Teapots before 1700.”

All of this is possible because of her foundational dissertation research, a portion of which she is at long last developing into With Meaning in Site: The Landscape Paintings of Wu Bin, in preparation.

And all of this is only possible because of her education at Wellesley with Professor Anne DeCoursey Clapp in Art History and the inimitable Professor Helen T. Lin in Chinese language and culture. If anyone has suggestions for her projects, she welcomes contact at

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