Popular art history class canceled at Yale because it wasn’t “inclusive”

Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Yalies! Of all the Ivy League schools I follow, Yale is becoming the most Woke, and not in a nice way. It’s been going on a while, but became more visible in 2015 when popular Yale professor Nicholas Christakis, who taught sociology and other subjects, and his equally popular wife Erika, who taught early childhood education, were canceled by students after Erika wrote a letter suggesting that students might use their own discretion in choosing Halloween costumes. You may remember the video of Yalies reviling Christakis in public (do have a look!). Eventually both he and Erika resigned as Silliman College heads, and she resigned from teaching at Yale as well.

I needn’t point out other instances of Yale’s degeneration, including a frenzy of renaming buildings and effacing history that’s considered ideologically incorrect.  Recently, the University partly cemented over an old ornament in a building that depicted a Native American and a Pilgrim with a musket. The cement was put on to cover the gun! How condescending can they be? Yes, the Native Americans were treated shamefully, but what does this bowdlerization accomplish?

And now, because of student demand and disaffection, the centerpiece course of Yale’s Art History department, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to Present”, is being canceled. That’s right, not renamed, but canceled, to be replaced with a woke course that sounds truly dire. A piece at the Yale Daily News gives the sad story.

This was a popular course for decades, taught by the best professors, and, as it disappears, students are clamoring to get into it, with over 100 students trying to exceed the 300-student limit. They knew how good it was. But it’s going away, and will reappear in a much degraded form.

Why? You already know. The course dealt solely with Western art, and, as we know, Western art has historically been the purview of white males. This is changing of course, because that concentration on one demographic is the result of millennia of sexism and racism. You’d find the same biased content if you taught a course on the history of Western science, or the history of Western music. But change will come, though it will take a while, because the great achievements need to be not only produced but sorted out over time.

And of course you could always change the course’s name, simply putting the word “Western” before “Art History.” But that won’t suffice, either, because the makers of most of the art covered in the class will still be our most reviled demographic.

So should such a course—one in Western art—still be a centerpiece course rather than as one among many equals? When I was in college, we just took Fine Arts 101, and the concentration was of course on Western art, but it also included art from other areas, like India and China. You couldn’t possibly do justice to all the world’s art in a one-semester course, and so we got just a smidgen of non-Western art. So, after that course was over, I took a one-semester course in Indian art, and I still remember my term paper on the sculpture of Gandhara.

But what sticks with me is the Western stuff, simply because I live in the West, imbibe Western culture (as do almost all who live in the U.S), and the references we see in our culture to art—ranging from Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam to Picasso’s Guernica—are part of the Western tradition. That’s why I think the course should simply be renamed, but without the content being changed, and it should remain as be the Department’s flagship course. Others will disagree, and they can take a number and get in line. If you have only one semester to take a course on art in America, it should be a course in Western art, where the tradition can be traced directly.

But I’m not saying that students shouldn’t be exposed to other kinds of art as well. Indian art, which I know pretty well, has a glorious tradition, as does the art of China, Japan, and many other areas. There should of course be opportunities for students to take such courses. But if they take only one, as is the case in liberal-arts schools, let it be on the art of their own culture. And by all means include in that course art by women and people of color (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera come immediately to mind), so long as the art is good.

Sadly, Introduction to Art History is going away; it’s not inclusive enough. And, indeed, the last edition of the course is being Wokified. As the Yale Daily News reports:

Decades old and once taught by famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present” was once touted to be one of Yale College’s quintessential classes. But this change is the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western “canon” — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.

This spring, the final rendition of the course will seek to question the idea of Western art itself — a marked difference from the course’s focus at its inception. Art history department chair and the course’s instructor Tim Barringer told the News that he plans to demonstrate that a class about the history of art does not just mean Western art. Rather, when there are so many other regions, genres and traditions — all “equally deserving of study” — putting European art on a pedestal is “problematic,” he said.

When you hear the word “problematic” from the Left, run away quickly! Now look what they’re doing to this once great course in its final incarnation (my emphasis):

In his syllabus note to potential students on Canvas, an online course management tool, Barringer wrote that the emphasis would be placed on the relationship between European art and other world traditions. The class will also consider art in relation to “questions of gender, class and ‘race’” and discuss its involvement with Western capitalism, Barringer wrote. Its relationship with climate change will be a “key theme,” he wrote.

Barringer has also focused attention on the course’s written assignments. He said that he will invite students to write an essay nominating a work of art that has been left out of the course’s curriculum or its textbook. Like the changes to the course itself, this essay is designed to challenge long-held views of art history.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what works the students come up with to counteract or undermine my own narratives,” he wrote.

Barringer, of course, is pandering to student demand, abnegating his duty to teach the subject and to awaken a love of art in his students. CLIMATE CHANGE? CAPITALISM? I weep bitter tears, not because I’m a denialist or a rampant capitalist, but because these are ecological, political, and social issues that have almost nothing to do with art history.

A course about questioning the purview of Western art is not a course on art history, nor is it a course on art appreciation (I bless my professor at William and Mary who taught me how to see and how to appreciate Western art). No, it’s a course on ideology and inclusivity. This change derives, of course, from student demands, which now are starting to run universities as professors cower before authoritarian demands. Or, in this case it appears that the professors have themselves internalized identity politics, running ahead of the pack to ruin their courses.

A few students are griping, but, given Yale’s increasing wokeness, the course is doomed—doomed to become only one of several co-equal courses in art history, which will be more about politics than art.

. . . other students expressed certain dissatisfactions with the Art History Department’s decision to get rid of Barringer’s class.

“My biggest critique of the decision is that it’s a disservice to undergrads,” Mahlon Sorensen ’22 said. “If you get rid of that one, all-encompassing course, then to understand the Western canon of art, students are going to have to take multiple art history courses. Which is all well and good for the art history major, but it sucks for the rest of us, which, I would say, make up the vast majority of the people who are taking [HSAR 115].”

This is happening in other departments at Yale as well, especially English. While diverse contributions should certainly be represented in art and literature, “diverse” can mean many things, and the concentration should be, as it used to be before “theory” took over and ruined English courses, on how to read and see and listen, and understand why some art is considered great. That’s what used to be taught when New Criticism dominated English literature. Now that’s gone by the wayside: it’s not about the text but about who wrote it, and which groups had power during the writing. As the News reports:

Over the past several years, structural changes in the art history major have come largely in part to the department’s active response to similar student suggestions. According to the Director of Undergraduate Studies Marisa Bass, students motivated the creation of courses like “Global Decorative Arts,” “Sacred Art and Architecture” and “The Politics of Representation.”

“Yale’s History of Art department is deeply committed to representing the intellectual diversity of its students and its faculty, and we believe that introductory surveys are an essential opportunity to continue to challenge, rethink and rewrite the narratives surrounding the history of engagement with art, architecture, images and objects across time and place,” Bass said. “These surveys and those that we will continue to develop in the future are designed in recognition of an essential truth: that there has never been just one story of the history of art.”

As we all know, but also realize that it’s impolitic to point out, “intellectual diversity” means “racial and gender diversity”, for racial and gender diversity are claimed, wrongly, to map perfectly onto intellectual diversity. (That, by the way, is a truly patronizing attitude.) While it’s extremely valuable to keep reassessing canons to see that they don’t neglect underappreciated works, and don’t become stale, the attempt to pretend that art history has always been a rainbow of identity politics will be the death of art history. Yes, art history will change as barriers to entry of oppressed and minority artists fall, and that’s a good thing. But rewriting art history is like Yale’s attempt to rewrite American history. It doesn’t do anything but keep the students quiet while erasing what really happened over the last few centuries.

72 Comments

  1. denise
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    “But if they take only one, as is the case in liberal-arts schools, let it be on the art of their own culture”

    The idea that American culture is Western is what is rejected.

    • Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Well, they’re pretty much wrong. As I said, virtually all Americans are marinated in American culture, even those who retain some aspects of their own culture. Take Asian students as one example. And is the culture of African Americans or women not “Western” now?

      • denise
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Yes, they are wrong. It’s very sad.

  2. dd
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    This should come as no surprise.

    The cancellation was in essence a display of animus, as has been noted, toward the fact that you are dealing largely with “dead white males”.

    Keep in mind that around 1995 the very wealthy Bass Brothers of Fort Worth offered Yale several million dollars to found an institute dedicated to the study of Western culture.

    Yale said “NO”. And I understand that much of the reason was faculty fear of Western academic hegemony.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Recently, the University partly cemented over an old ornament in a building that depicted a Native American and a Pilgrim with a musket. The cement was put on to cover the gun!

    Down the memory hole it goes!

    Wonder whether, on bright cold days in April, the clocks on the Yale campus strike thirteen.

    • JezGrove
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes, 70 years after Orwell’s death we appear to have learned nothing.

  4. Vaal
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    “The class will also consider art in relation to “questions of gender, class and ‘race’” and discuss its involvement with Western capitalism, Barringer wrote.”!!

    Oh FFS….!

    • ploubere
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      agreed.

    • Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      These topics would be excellent study for a senior seminar or the like, as far as I can tell, but the students should have the basics of the field down *first*.

      Disclaimer: Art history was one of those subjects philosophy undergraduates seemed to know more than me about – mainly because I was taking computer science and psychology courses instead of other humanities (or social sciences, sometimes). I don’t regret the trade off, even though I do find “big picture” discussions like this important. But they can’t easily be done in ignorance!

  5. merilee
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    😖

  6. dd
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    A question:

    How will you de-colonize the concept of “art history” itself, since it’s a Western invention? (Vasari, 16th century)

    • Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I would not be surprised if there are art historians in the Chinese and Indian traditions, especially.

    • JP415
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure that linear perspective is also a Western discovery (or invention?). Therefore, Yale must liberate art from the Western cis-gendered hegemony of vanishing points and horizon lines.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    … famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully …

    Wow. And here I thought he was merely the longtime mellifluous voice of the LA (and erstwhile Brooklyn) Dodgers. 🙂

    • Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I’m so glad I wasn’t the only person who thought this.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Glad you chimed in, Robert, so I know I’m not the only one either. 🙂

  8. Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    So they’re closing down the teaching of “degenerate art” and probably accusing their opponents of being Nazis.

    • JezGrove
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, but I’m not sure about “probably”.

  9. Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    People don’t change their minds, they just die out and are replaced with people of different ideas. I don’t know who first said that, it certainly was not me, but as I get older I see it happening, and am aware if it more and more. My last ten years before retirement I saw it in real estate law, because it was my firmly held ideas about real estate law that were being changed.
    No way to predict what the ensuing generations believe or do, assuming our civilization or even species continues to exit, but we can be sure those beliefs and actions will be much different from ours.

  10. Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I hope Barringer gets an earful from some famous Yale alumni.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if any alumni have any influence on Art department funding.

      I contemplate that Yale alumnus George W. Bush paints, and has had an exhibit not totally unfavorably received.

  11. Adam M.
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I wonder, as the United States becomes less and less white due to overwhelmingly non-white mass immigration whether the animus towards all things white and Western will grow or decline. (We’re projected to become a minority around 2042, and it’s predicted to accelerate further after that, dropping to 30-40% over the next couple decades, and then presumably down towards 20% and who knows what…)

    On one hand, the country will be overwhelmed by people with little or no connection to our culture. On the other hand, so much of this animus is pushed and amplified by a certain left-wing white elite that it could conceivably decline as they do.

    • JezGrove
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t there a movement to try to establish English as the sole official language in the US, in anticipation of such demographic developments?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Well, in the words of Ma Ferguson, governor of the great state of Texas in the 1920s and 30s, if English was good enough for Jesus, it oughta be good enough for American schoolkids.

        • merilee
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          I thought that Dubya said that. Musta learned it from her.

          • Teresa Carson
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            No matter what you think of the Bushes, they did not seem to have a problem with the Spanish language or Jeb’s marriage to a Mexican woman. I thought both Dubya and his father were bad presidents, but I never that Dubya, especially, was a bigot.

            • JezGrove
              Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

              I could be mis-remembering (or something), but didn’t Dubya even name a company “arbusto”?

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, Dubya named his company “Arbusto” because he thought it was the Spanish word for “bush.” Turns out, its meaning is actually closer to “shrub,” which is why Molly Ivins and some other Texas wags hung the sobriquet “Shrub” on him.

                Overall, W had a pretty good relationship with the Mexican-American community in Texas. Hell, he even spoke a little weekend-in-Juarez Spanish (although not as much as Jeb!, and obviously not enough to translate own his name correctly). 🙂

                He was, at least, more popular with Mexican-Americans than any other modern Republican presidential candidate (and certainly much more popular with them than the current Republican occupant of the Oval Office).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      … the country will be overwhelmed by people with little or no connection to our culture.

      That’s precisely the same argument made against Irish immigration in the middle of the 19th century, against Chinese immigration before enactment of the Exclusion Act of 1882, and against southern and eastern European immigration before enactment of the Immigration Act of 1924 (and at countless other times about other immigrant groups throughout this nation’s history).

      What’s your basis for believing that future US immigrants won’t assimilate into US culture just as every previous wave of US immigrants has?

      • JezGrove
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Apart from the Russian sleepers backing you-know-who, if course.

      • Adam M.
        Posted January 28, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Just these:

        Blacks and Native Americans have been here for far longer than European immigrants but haven’t assimilated in anything like the way the Irish have. (By contrast, European immigrant groups assimilated in just a few generations.)
        Americans have lost the will to expect and demand assimilation. Indeed, we seem to be shrinking from, denigrating, and apologizing for our historic culture to a greater and greater degree.
        The rate of immigration is such that they don’t need to assimilate. Look at Miami (70% Hispanic), or indeed the whole states of California (46% Hispanic), New Mexico (55%), or Texas (40%). And they aren’t spread around evenly; they are concentrated in areas that are almost entirely Hispanic. Why would they assimilate? If the Chinese had such large numbers, they wouldn’t assimilate either. Nor, indeed, would the Irish, I expect…
        The proliferation of identity politics based on ethnicity sharpens the boundaries between ethnic groups and fosters in-group loyalty.

        Anyway, my original comment was primarily to wonder whether the impending transformation of America from a white, Western country to a non-white and much less Western country will lead to an increase in anti-white animosity (and a further sidelining of our culture as in the Yale story) or a diminution of the animosity.

        I can imagine it going either way. It’s one thing to become a small minority in the country. But I hope for my children’s and grandchildren’s sake that they won’t be a despised minority.

        • Filippo
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure why one ought to expect Native Americans to much assimilate. They were here what – some 10,000 years before (Proto-Exceptional Americans, Western/Northern) Europeans arrived and started imposing requirements on them?

          • Adam M.
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

            I’m not sure that we ought to expect it either. My point was just that not everybody does.

        • JezGrove
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          “[T]ransformation of America from a white, Western country”? One doesn’t have to be Titania McGrath to have issues with that statement, I suspect.

          • Adam M.
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            Like what?

            That America was Western? I think it’s obvious enough that America was founded by Europeans and carried on in the Western tradition.

            That America was white? Empirically it was 80-90% white from its founding up until about 1990. And by one law or another it was kept that way, first explicitly and then implicitly, until 1965 when national origin quotas on immigration were abolished. So both empirically and legally America was a white country, just as Mexico is a Hispanic country. (I’ll note that Japan, Mexico, Nigeria and virtually every other non-white nation in the world has restrictive laws designed to maintain particular demographics. Nobody criticizes them for this.)

            That America is transforming away from being white? That is simply a fact; look at the demographic projections.

            That America is transforming from Western to being significantly less Western? That remains to be seen, but it’s clear that anti-Western sentiment is increasing and a willingness to stand up for Western culture is decreasing.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

          Blacks and Native Americans have been here for far longer than European immigrants but haven’t assimilated in anything like the way the Irish have.

          Jeez, Adam, I should think the lesson to be had there is that this nation should never again engage in genocide or the mass importation of chattel slaves — not that it should be chary about admitting people who aren’t white.

          True it is that Miami has for some time now been a minority-majority city (as demographers are wont to put it). That’s part of what makes it such a vibrant, cosmopolitan place.

          I’ve spent most of my adult life and career there. It is, perhaps, a place not suited to the narrow-minded or the faint of heart; it rewards a certain magnanimity of spirit. But if the future of US America looks like South Florida, I’m more than comfortable with it. My children were reared there, and live here now, and they feel the same.

          • Historian
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

            Why is it that some fearful white people attribute western values to skin color as if holding such values are genetically determined?

            This attitude is similar to that of pre-Civil War slaveholders who argued that blacks were incapable of being free due to skin color. White supremacy has always been based on the notion that skin color determines who is superior and inferior. Things haven’t changed much over the centuries.

            • Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

              I for one try to stand up for what is good, right, true and beautiful – whereever it originates. Especially if it allows creation or discovery of more of the same independent of that origin. (That’s why science is so special.)

          • Adam M.
            Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            “… Miami has for some time now been a minority-majority city… That’s part of what makes it such a vibrant, cosmopolitan place… if the future of US America looks like South Florida, I’m more than comfortable with it.”

            Fair enough, and I’ve got nothing against it per se, but it’s very different from saying that they’ll assimilate just like the Irish. They clearly won’t. That bodes well for you, but perhaps not so well for the increasingly many parts of our culture now deemed “too white” and thus “problematic” and which must consequently be cast aside or marginalized, like this art history course at Yale.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

              Do you actually know any second or third generation Cuban-Americans in South Florida? They’re as assimilated as the members of the Mayflower Society or Daughters of the American Revolution.

              • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

                Indeed, that’s my experience.

              • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

                I am very curious about people’s origina. My wife is largely Native American, so we all know, her people got here first. But, besides Native Americans, we all “came from somewhere”. And, to me, that’s fascinating.

                Anyway, I was talking to my work colleagues in one engineering group in So Cal, and I was the Haole in the group. Everyone else was of: Indian, Vietnamese, or Chinese heritage, most of them first-generation immigrants.

                I remember asking one young fellow of Chinese ancestry, “When did your ancestors come to the USA?”

                Him: “We’re not really sure; but it was 1805 or earlier, to San Francisco.”

                Me, “Wow, that was long before most of my ancestors came here.”

                How could you be more ‘Murican than him?

      • Lacey Sheridan
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:16 am | Permalink

        But those earlier immigrants were white, and themselves part of Western culture. The current crop of immigrants come with a cultural heritage of their own which will, with Yale’s complicity, supercede our own.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          I don’t think you comprehend the extent to which earlier waves of immigrants — Irish, Jews, Italians, Eastern Europeans, others — were viewed as essentially untermenschen by the Anglo establishment in the United States, which made precisely the same argument you make above, that the country could not accommodate them and that they would never be able to assimilate due to their “cultural differences.”

          Here’s a thread by the historian Kevin Kruse on this topic that provides apt historical examples of what I talking about.

          • Historian
            Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

            The historical ignorance of white nationalists is appalling, but not surprising.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

              I don’t recall this commenter appearing in this space before (or at least don’t recall interacting personally with this commenter before). So I’m indulging the presumption that it’s an instance of good-faith ignorance rather than malice. We’ll see.

          • Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            Also: people making excessively essentialist claims about “culture” should tell me how to tell where one ends and the other begins.

            I’ve seen people say that there are three in Europe because of the Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox split; but then there are also Jews, Muslims, etc. even historically in many places; yet also one could talk about difference in foods, language families, etc. There are many kinds of cultural products, and they criss-cross and intersect.

            Better to equip everyone to adopt what is best from all for them and theirs and to live with those who make different choices, I think.

            And *that* requires recognition of the universal *and* the particular, not just the latter.

            I do not know what human universals exist in art, *except for that itself*, but so? We can start there – and enjoy and revel in *both* that unity and diversity. I am reminded of the slogan “out of many, one”. This is noble – but incomplete. Also, IMO as important, is “out of one, many”.

            Both Jim Henson’s team on Fraggle Rock and the folks who wrote MacGyver got this! (Not to mention the Star Trek folks.)

          • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

            All one needs to do is Google:

            “Ad no Irish need apply”

            or

            “Ad no Italians need apply”

            to get a feel for it.

          • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            Here are some examples:

            http://blog.buffalostories.com/tag/no-italians-need-apply/

    • JP415
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand, so much of this animus is pushed and amplified by a certain left-wing white elite . . . .

      It’s a weird paradox: the people who benefit most from Western culture are the ones most critical of it. That’s a bad sign for our culture in general. Like people, civilizations must believe in themselves to survive and prosper.

      Maybe Western culture is ill.

      • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        It’s no longer cool to be patriotic or proud of our Western heritage (after all: Colonialism).

  12. Teresa Carson
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Not sure all white and male probably, but I sincerely question that they were all straight. Even if they were, I agree with Jerry.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      They weren’t all straight. But they were almost all pre-Stonewall. 🙂

      • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        + a large number, beat me to it.

  13. eric
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I think the course should simply be renamed, but without the content being changed, and it should remain as be the Department’s flagship course. Others will disagree, and they can take a number and get in line. If you have only one semester to take a course on art in America, it should be a course in Western art, where the tradition can be traced directly.

    I think they should add more intro courses. Instead of a flagship, have a fleet.

    JAC you said you took a second course in Indian Art. I think that’s sort of the right model. Have a couple of different ‘types of Art’ courses rescoped to be appropriate to nonmajors and entry level art history majors.

    My guess is that, unfortunately, this would be rejected by the woke student body. It’s a bit like creationists not settling for a comparative religion elective – “opt in” isn’t what they want, they won’t be happy until everyone is near-forcefully exposed to their dogma.

    But maybe that’s too harsh and I’m just cynical. Regardless, I wish Yale would try expanding their course selection in response to a student demand for wider-ranging art classes, rather than eliminating good courses that aren’t as wide-ranging as some students want.

    • Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. For example, when I was an undergraduate in philosophy, early on some upper division undergraduates and graduate students approached a professor and asked something like, “Hey, Merleau-Ponty has been very influential in French philosophy for a few decades, could you give a seminar on his work?” And so, they were told something along the lines of “Well, I don’t know much about the guy, but it sounds interesting and I do seem to get stuck teaching the same stuff again and again, so why not? Let’s learn this stuff together.” And so they did – I later read a good student paper that came from the class in our student journal and learned something at second hand because of it. Good stuff all around. *This* is how you change curricula – not by burning to the ground, but by working to add, modify, allow extra options or new things.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        That is exactly the way it should work, in my opinion. The most outstanding characteristic of a good teacher is a willingness to learn with and from the students.

      • merilee
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Great (and useful) anecdote.

    • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Trouble is, people have limited time and money. I sure did. I would have loved to have taken this course.

      I appreciate Asian art (African not so much); but my main interest is in Western Art. Call a bigot if you like.

      The one art history course I took at university was: History of Asian Art (the Minneapolis Institute of Art has an amazing collection).

      It was a brilliant course, taught by a young, passionate, dynamic professor, and students loved it. I was one of the very few non-Arts majors in the (large, 100-student?) class. I remember seeing the prof. do a double-take when he finally realized that the guy who was always paying attention and speaking up in class was an engineering major! 🙂

  14. Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Thinking it over I do not see a problem with a World Art History Intro course that includes regions as well as periods. Of course, the Western canon would have to be a large part, but Oriental, Indian and African art should be included. Japanese art greatly influenced European impressionism. I do not think ethnicity and ideology should be a focus, however. That can be covered in specialized subsequent courses.

  15. Deodand
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    You have to remember that to the Woke, the Peoples of NonColor (White/Jewish subraces) are lumpen creatures incapable of true creativity.

    Therefore there is no ‘Western Culture’ it was all stolen from the Peoples of Color and any major figure in ‘Western Culture’ (like Beethoven for example) was in fact a West African!

  16. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    With the cementing over of the musket, it leaves the Native American pointing his weapon at the poor helpless Pilgrim.

    It seems as though that is ok though.

  17. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted January 28, 2020 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    With the cementing over of the musket in the Pilgrims’ hand, it just leaves the Native American holding his weapon pointed at the poor defenseless Pilgrim.

    Showing hostility to peaceful Pilgrims.

    But I suppose that is ok though.

  18. Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    students are clamoring to get into it, with over 100 students trying to exceed the 300-student limit

    That reads a little strangely. 100 students will never manage to exceed the 300 limit. They need to recruit at least 201 more students. I assume you actually mean the course was oversubscribed by 100.

    Anyway, would it not be cultural appropriation for white students to study non Western art?

  19. KD
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    As that old how-to book of social justice suggests, “Who controls the past controls the future”.

    Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

  20. Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    As I said on another thread: If these kids are so smart, so well-informed on these subjects that they feel capable of dictating the course content, then why the hell are they bothering to pay ~$250K for a Yale Bachelor’s degree, when they could just as well teach themselves and be working and making money instead of paying money and losing opportunity costs?

    Kurtz: “The arrogance, the arrogance.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      “Matriculate the all brutes!”

    • Asterope
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      The Woke isn’t really coming from the students, it’s coming from the administrators. The students were the ones clambering to get into the course while it was still available.

      It’s not actually an attempt to be “inclusive” at all, if that was what they were really trying to do they’d just have done what Jerry Coyne suggests above and renamed the course. It’s an attempt to erase real history altogether and replace it with Disnified corporate cruft.

  21. Deodand
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I just found on (of all things) a ‘Western Fiction Blog’ a line that the neo-Puritans at Yale seem to have forgotten, in fact if they read it they would recoil in horror…

    “Don’t get this wrong: Art has no specific political color, it can be either left-wing or right-wing, but it is by definition challenging, thought-provoking.”

    http://westernsontheblog.blogspot.com/2019/09/silverado.html

    • JP415
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Hmmmm. I reckon that’s a different kind of *Western* Civilization.

  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 30, 2020 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    “The course dealt solely with Western art, and, as we know, Western art has historically been the purview of white males.”

    I suspect the art of every other culture has overwhelmingly been the purview of males, too, of whatever relevant colour. 🙂

    cr

    • Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Yep, impress the babes.

      As Paul McCartney put it frankly in his autobiography (and the Eagles members have done similarly): “Yeah, we were in it “get” women.”

      Which, to me, and to the full level of precision required, explains why the yuge, vast, massive majority of all rock bands are made up of guys.


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