Yale Daily News reports that the college’s “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to Present” course is to be cancelled because of “student uneasiness over an idealized Western canon – a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight European and male cadre of artists.”
Upon announcing that the course would soon be ceasing, enrollment increased and over one hundred students had to be turned away, but the chair of the art-history department Tim Berringer brushed off the matter, saying in an email to the paper that a history of European art is not “the history of all art in all places.”
“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.”
Barringer claims that putting European art on a “pedestal” is “problematic”, and he hopes to expand into different regions, traditions and genres with new courses that will show a history of art doesn’t just mean Western art.
According to the newspaper, the final rendition of the current course this spring will “seek to question the idea of Western art itself”, whilst the new syllabus is set to examine art as related to gender, class, race, capitalism and climate.
In a scathing op-ed for the Wall Street Journal however, president of Encounter Books Roger Kimball writes that the course cancellation means “civilization is history at Yale”, calling the soon-to-be defunct course a “riveting introduction to the pulse of humanism.”