Yale Kills Popular Art History Course over Study of White, Male Artists

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Yale University announced this week that it is killing off a popular art history course after students claimed that they were “uneasy” over the course’s focus on white male artists.

According to a report from Yale Daily News, Yale University announced this week that the popular course, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present,” will no longer be offered.

Students criticized the course over its alleged over-emphasis on European art. The students argued that the course should focus on influential art from countries around the world. Shortly thereafter, Yale officials pulled the plug on the course.

The course’s instructor, Tim Barringer, said that he has no issue with the university’s decision to expand the scope of his art history course.

“I believe that every object I discuss in [the course] is of profound cultural value,” Barringer. “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.”

Marisa Bass, the director of undergraduate studies at Yale University, said that the decision to cancel the popular course after university officials agreed that the course excluded ethnic art.

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. 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.

Student Mahlon Sorensen wasn’t thrilled with the university’s decision. He told the Yale Daily News that the course will make it more difficult for students to get a brief introduction to European art. 

“My biggest critique of the decision is that it’s a disservice to undergrads,” Sorensen 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].”

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