News & Politics

Yale's Art Department To Ditch 'Introduction to Art History' For Being Too 'White, Straight, European and Male'

Image via Shutterstock, the Yale University campus.

The Yale Daily News reported on Friday that the Ivy League school “will stop teaching a storied introductory survey course in art history, citing the impossibility of adequately covering the entire field — and its varied cultural backgrounds — in one course.”

The apparently controversial course is the famed “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”  which was once taught by the late Vincent Scully. According to the report, the course is being ditched in response to “student uneasiness over an idealized Western ‘canon’ — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.”

The final course will be taught in the spring semester, and will “seek to question the idea of Western art itself,” a significant departure from the course’s origins. According to Tim Barringer, the instructor of the course, he plans to demonstrate that an art history class doesn’t have to be limited to Western art.

Barringer believes that there are so many other regions, genres, and traditions that are all “equally deserving of study” and putting European art on a pedestal is “problematic.”

“I believe that every object I discuss in [“Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”] (with the possible exception of one truly ghastly painting by Renoir) is of profound cultural value,” Barringer toldy the Yale Daily News. “I want all Yale students (and all residents of New Haven who can enter our museums freely) to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the western tradition. But I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.”

To compensate for overwhelming straight-white-maleness, the Art History Department will soon offer a range of other survey classes, including “Art and Politics,” “Global Craft,” “The Silk Road” and “Sacred Places,” while “Introduction to Art History” will be replaced.

Apparently the woke folk at Yale were happy about this, as student enrollment in Barringer’s course skyrocketed after the department’s plan was announced.

“Introduction to Art History” is not the only course to go the way of the dodo at Yale to cater to triggered social justice warriors. The art history major has undergone many changes over the years with snowflakes demanding more “diverse” classes like “Global Decorative Arts,” “Sacred Art and Architecture” and “The Politics of Representation.”

Sounds delightful.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis