Category Archive 'Yale'
22 Jun 2020

Rod Dreher is an Idiot

, , , , ,

According to Rod Dreher: “Statue of Elihu Yale December 31, 2009”.

Writing at (the frequently misnamed) American Conservative, Rod Dreher says:

Ann Coulter is pushing a brilliant campaign to compel Yale University to change its name:

    How about a bill withholding all federal funds from Yale University until it changes its name? The school’s namesake, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner, but a slave trader.

    Quite a dilemma for the little snots who attend and teach there! It will be tremendously damaging to their brand. After all, true sublimity for a Social Justice Warrior is virtue signaling and advertising their high SAT scores at the same time.

Elihu Yale was certainly that: a slave trader, and a cruel man. Yale University bears his name because he was an early benefactor of the school.

Yale changed the name of Calhoun College in 2017, because its namesake, 19th century Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, was pro-slavery. So why is Yale not jettisoning its name? Why the hypocrisy?

The answer, of course, is that “Yale” is a global brand of almost matchless prestige. In terms of branding — which is not the same as quality — Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge are among its only competitors. To surrender “Yale” would be a severe blow to the value of a Yale diploma, precisely because of the sense of elite identity Yale has accrued over the centuries.

So, how serious do the leftist Yalies — alumni, faculty, administrators, and students — take their moral commitment? They are very happy to strip other people of their problematic historical identities, in the name of moral purity. How do they justify not applying the same standards to themselves?

Surely it cannot be the case that they want other people to pay a price for historical identity, but don’t want to pay it themselves. Yale was founded as the “Collegiate School,” before changing its name to Yale in honor of a major donor. Why not switch back to Collegiate School? The answer is that to do that would be like Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame choosing to revert to her birth name, Norma Jeane Baker. Not quite the same thing, is it?

The irony of changing the name of Calhoun College while retaining the name of the college’s early benefactor was noted originally by Roger Kimball.

Maybe they will rename Yale. I would put nothing past them.

The statue on the Old Campus (above) is not Elihu Yale. Wrong by centuries, Rod. It’s Theodore Dwight Woolsey (1801 – 1889), Philosophy professor and President of Yale College from 1846 through 1871.

And how could anyone possibly know that Elihu Yale was “a cruel man”? He might have been a complete pussycat.

16 May 2020

Therapeutic Yale

, , ,


Mediation room with sand box at Yale’s “Good Life Center”

Back in my day, Yale’s colleges had squash courts, pool rooms, wood shops, and not uncommonly print shops in which undergraduates could produce hand-printed limited edition books. Today’s Yalies go to therapy and play in sand boxes.

City Journal:

Before the coronavirus pandemic, before shelter-in-place orders, there was the campus safe space. Students claimed that they needed protection from perceived threats to their emotional well-being. College administrators were only too happy to comply, building up a vast edifice of services to respond to students’ alleged emotional trauma. Last year, Yale University created a safe space that will set the industry standard for years to come. Call it the college woke spa, though its official title is the Good Life Center. Featuring a sandbox, essential oils, massage, and mental-health workshops, the center unites the most powerful forces in higher education today: the feminization of the university, therapeutic culture, identity politics, and the vast student-services bureaucracy. While other colleges may not yet have created as richly endowed a therapeutic space as the Good Life Center, they’re all being transformed by the currents that gave it birth, currents visible even in the reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I don’t know anyone [at Yale] who hasn’t had therapy. It’s a big culture on campus,” says a rosy-cheeked undergraduate in a pink sweatshirt. She is nestled in a couch in the subsidized coffee shop adjacent to Yale’s Good Life Center, where students can sip sustainably sourced espresso and $3 tea lattes. “Ninety percent of the people I know have at least tried.” For every 20 of her friends, this sophomore estimates, four have bipolar disorder—as does she, she says.

Another young woman scanning her computer at a sunlit table in the café says that all her friends “struggle with mental health here. We talk a lot about therapy approaches to improve our mental health versus how much is out of your control, like hormonal imbalances.” Yale’s dorm counselors readily refer freshmen to treatment, she says, because most have been in treatment themselves. Indeed, they are selected because they have had an “adversity experience” at Yale, she asserts.

Such voices represent what is universally deemed a mental-health crisis on college campuses. More than one in three students report having a mental-health disorder. Student use of therapy nationally rose almost 40 percent from 2009 to 2015, while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. At smaller colleges, 40 percent or more of the student body has gone for treatment; at Yale, over 50 percent of undergraduates seek therapy.

Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos created the Good Life Center in response to this alleged mental-health crisis. She had just taught what is billed as the most popular course in Yale’s history: “Psychology and the Good Life,” which aimed to arm students with “scientifically validated” techniques for overcoming emotional distress and “living a more satisfying life.” The course presented the findings of positive psychology, a recent subfield that examines what makes humans happy, rather than what makes them miserable. “Psychology and the Good Life” was not just a disinterested overview, however; it was a semester-long exercise in self-help. Students were assigned better mental-health practices—getting more sleep one week, exercising a few minutes a day another; meditating during the next week, keeping a gratitude journal the following week. For the final exam, students designed their own personalized self-help: the “Hack Yo’Self Project.”

The course’s target audience was, by its own account, in desperate need of emotional rescue. “A lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” a female freshman told the New York Times. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions—both positive and negative—so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment.” The size of the turnout itself was therapeutic: “Being able to see that an entire giant concert hall full of people is struggling alongside you is huge,” another student told the Yale Daily News. Apparently, being a Yale student was a massive burden—something that would have astounded Yale’s legendary teachers, such as art historian Vincent Scully and literary critic Harold Bloom, who conveyed to students the excitement they should feel before the lure of beauty and knowledge.

The questions of what leads to happiness and how we should conduct our lives have deep philosophical roots in the West, stretching back to the pre-Socratics. The Stoics and Epicureans sought to inculcate in their followers a mental outlook that would steel them against fate and the fear of death. Only a virtuous life, growing out of settled habits of character, the ancients counseled, led to happiness. Aristotle posited that the use of reason to attain truth would bring fulfillment, since reason was man’s highest faculty and truth was the telos of human existence.

The syllabus for “Psychology and the Good Life” contained no hint of this rich tradition. Instead, it was relentlessly presentist, consisting of online TED talks, news articles on positive psychology, lecture videos from other psychology courses, short research papers, and chapters from recent nonfiction books, like Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s Nudge. The final recommended reading was Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go. To get students “pumped” for each lecture, Santos played the Black-Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” (“I gotta feeling, that tonight, that tonight / That tonight’s gonna be a good, good, good, good, good / Good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good”). Plato’s Symposium this wasn’t.

Nearly a quarter of Yale’s undergraduates signed up for “Psychology and the Good Life,” whose popularity may have been boosted by rumors of undemanding grading expectations. Courses that met at the same time experienced a sharp drop in enrollment. A decision was taken not to reoffer the “Good Life” course. As it happened, however, Santos had precious real estate at her disposal, since she leads Silliman College, one of Yale’s 14 undergraduate residential communities. So she converted four rooms at the top of a landing in Silliman into the Good Life Center, to “promote a campus culture that values wellness as a community responsibility,” as the center’s mission statement reads. Or, in less bureaucratic terms, to “spread good vibes,” as the GLC website puts it. …

Here, in a nutshell, is the essence of the college woke spa: an aesthetic and worldview built predominantly around what have been largely female interests, concerns, and fears. The GLC’s self-esteem bromides, the self-compassion ethic, the yoga and mindfulness sessions—all would be at home in a Beverly Hills “healing space,” where trophy wives can “center themselves in an atmosphere of calm.” A visitor keeps expecting to encounter crystals and star charts. …

Underneath the essential oils and yoga mats, the woke spa mental-wellness crusade is accomplishing an even more profound transformation of university life. The assumption that emotional threat and danger lie just beyond the spa is the product of an increasingly female-dominated student body, faculty, and administration. That assumption is undermining traditional academic values of rational discourse, argumentation, and free speech.

RTWT and weep.

23 Apr 2020

The Legendary Peter Beard

, ,


A particularly famous photograph by Peter Beard (characteristically individualized) shows Beard writing in his journal from inside the jaws (of a freshly deceased) crocodile. Apparently, there was a price for the photo. The croc went into rigor mortis, its jaws tightened and the camp servants had a lot of difficulty getting the suffering Beard out from between the now painfully clamped jaws.

From the lack of comments on the previous postings about Peter Beard, I take it that many readers are unacquainted with the works and colorful career of that illustrious writer, photographer, adventurer, and womanizer. I figured I ought to do something about that.

When I was an undergraduate at Yale, in my residential college (Berkeley), there was a strikingly handsome upperclassman who had a considerable physical resemblance to Peter Beard (Silliman ’61). This fellow had parked outside the college on Elm Street a new bright red Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider, which he had received as a gift from a female admirer. While most of us worked summers on Construction or other disagreeable jobs, this particular escapee from Valhalla raised his annual Yale tuition by working as a gigolo on the French Riviera. He was always happy to tell the rest of us all about it, and he always suggested firmly that we really ought to go and do likewise. Of course, just ask yourself: how many undergraduate males look like Peter Beard?

In Outside, Roger Pinckney XI, gave Peter Beard a proper send-off.

Peter Beard was a hard man to peg. A photographer of wildlife and beautiful women, a writer, an ethnologist, explorer, hunter, naturalist, conservationist, ladies man, married man, wise man. Good work if you can get it. But if you’ve ever seen the video of him being trampled by an elephant, you might want to add “fool” to that considerable list. But however you cut it, you’ll run dry of adjectives long before you ever had Peter Beard nailed down.

RTWT

——————–

A 1996 article in Vanity Fair by Leslie Bennetts may be the fullest collection of “Half Tarzan, Half Byron” stories.

Last summer, he and his Danish girlfriend were out in Montauk, where Beard owns the last house on Montauk Point. “Peter’s girlfriend started ragging him about all his bad habits,” Tunney recalls. “She’s this strong Danish chick with a spandex suit on, and she said, ‘Peter, you smoke, you drink, you drug, you stay up all night—and you’re almost 60 years old! You need to start taking care of yourself. You should go running, like me—five miles a day!’ ”

So Beard, wearing his usual dusty African sandals, obligingly accompanied her on a run. Tunney expected him to last about five minutes. “An hour later, the girlfriend comes back, dripping,” Tunney reports. “I said, ‘Where’s Peter?’ ”

“He loved it,” she gasped. “He said he just wanted to keep going.”

RTWT

09 Apr 2020

1954: Life Magazine Tribute to J. Press

, , , , ,

———————

———————

———————

———————

In 1954 Life Magazine dubbed J. Press in New Haven the birthplace of the “Ivy League Look.”

“The Ivy Look Heads Across U.S.” the magazine proclaimed in an anthropological examination of the natural-shouldered suit and its sartorial brethren. They sent photographer Nina Leen to J. Press in New Haven, dubbing it the birthplace of the “Ivy League Look” when it opened back in 1902, to see the original in action outfitting Yale men. There she located the founder’s sons, Irving (Yale ’26) and Paul Press presiding soberly over the premises.

We are always hearing about the Jewish quota at Ivy League schools, but … the actual extent of the absolutely vital and integral contribution of Jewish Americans of recent immigrant background ought to be reflected upon in the light of the fact that all the great men’s clothiers in New Haven serving the Yale community, who created the national Ivy League style, Rosenberg’s, White’s, Gamer’s, J. Press, and Barrie Ltd (for footwear) were Jewish owned and operated. It wasn’t the WASPs who invented the Ivy League style. It was their Jewish classmates from Yale who, after graduation, became their preferred source of men’s fashion.

26 Feb 2020

Digby Dent on What’s Happened to Poor Vermont

, , , , ,

Glancing through the morning’s potential blog fodder, I found a Spectator piece on The Evolution of Vermont. The hijacking of that once-paradigmatic flinty conservative, rock-ribbed Republican state by goat-milking hippies and trust-fund bolsheviks is, to my mind, one of the true tragedies of our time. Seeing Ethan Allen and Calvin Coolidge replaced today by a crazy ranting Communist makes my blood boil.

The Spectator piece turned out to be a tongue-in-cheek philosophical reflection on the same theme by an imaginary old school WASP commentator from the Yale Class of ’89 named “Digby Dent.”

“Digby Dent” is the pseudonymous author of a more-or-less-monthly Wasp Life column, whose nom-de-plume is borrowed from the membership of a dynasty of two British admirals of the 18th Century. The current, quite talented Digby Dent turns out to be one Marlo Safi, a conservative Eastern-rite Catholic writer of Syrian extraction and graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

The Digby Dent series links at the Spectator include only four columns going back to last November, but I found them all worth a read.

Getting back to Digby on Vermont:

I’ve wintered here all my life and during that time Vermont has, like old Digby’s marital status, seen three permutations. In my boyhood, it was a poor but charming backwater, chockablock with flinty, taciturn Yankees. By bright college years, hippies were making goat-milk ice cream and the cities were run by sex maniacs and communists. Now, Vermont’s resorts are as gauche as Saddam’s bathrooms, half the tourists don’t ski and one of the sex-maniac communists aspires to lead the free world.

The permanent things endure, of course. The Green Mountains are still beautiful and I’m told they still work them like dogs at the Putney School. Still, I have my doubts. Vermont has never been much for schools and still isn’t; consistency, I suppose. But you can’t have a student kicked by a mule in the Y of Our L 2020. The damn lawyers won’t have it.

Even the skiing has changed. Last year we got the best snow in ages, but the season is indisputably shrinking. Whatever the causes, and I won’t pretend to know a damned thing about them, the climate is changing. As a devoted conservationist, I’ve done my part. The four-door I keep at my summer cottage carries a ‘Preserve the Sound’ plate. …

When I strode through Phelps Gate and onto the Street in ’89, I was full of vim and vigor, with big, bold plans to bend the world of junk bonds to my will. Those went the way of my waistline and slackened over time. That’s why God invented pleated pants.

As the gal pal clears away lunch and I watch the sun set over the woods, I think about … about my marriages, my career and all the vaporous dreams of youth, these last evanescent as a retreating shoreline. The world will be fine long after we’re gone.

RTWT


“Digby Dent” aka Marlo Safi.

20 Feb 2020

He’s Right: Yale Caved

, , ,

Rod Dreher notes that, within many of our most elite institutions, like Yale, the fanatical revolutionary Left has already won.

Last year, I spoke to a Soviet-born scholar who teaches in an American public university. I’m using a quote from our discussion in my forthcoming (September) book, Live Not By Lies. This morning, she sent me this e-mail, which I reproduce here with her permission:

    I know from your blog that the work on your new book is going well and I’m glad because, boy, it’s so needed. I’m observing some disturbing developments on my campus, and we are really not one of those wokester schools for spoiled brats one normally associates with this kind of thing.

    This academic year I’ve had an opportunity to work with some early-career academics. These are newly-minted PhDs that are in their first year on the tenure-track. What’s really scary is that they sincerely believe all the woke dogma. Older people – those in their forties, fifties or sixties – might parrot the woke mantras because it’s what everybody in academia does and you have to survive. But the younger generation actually believes it all. Transwomen are women, black students fail calculus because there are no calc profs who “look like them,” ‘whiteness’ is the most oppressive thing in the world, the US is the most evil country in history, anybody who votes Republican is a racist, everybody who goes to church is a bigot but the hijab is deeply liberating. I gently mocked some of this stuff (like we normally do among older academics), and two of the younger academics in the group I supervise actually cried. Because they believe all this so deeply, and I’d even say fanatically, that they couldn’t comprehend why I wasn’t taking it seriously.

    The fanatical glimmer in their eyes really scared me.

    Back in the USSR in the 1970s and the 1980s nobody believed the dogma. People repeated the ideological mantras for cynical reasons, to get advanced in their careers or get food packages. Many did it to protect their kids. But nobody sincerely believed. That is what ultimately saved us. As soon as the regime weakened a bit, it was doomed because there were no sincere believers any more. Everybody who did take the dogma seriously belonged to the generation of my great-grandparents.

    In the US, though, the generation of the fanatical believers is only now growing up and coming into its prime. We’ll have to wait until their grandkids grow up to see a generation that will be so fed up with the dogma that it will embrace freedom of thought and expression. But that’s a long way away in the future.

    I’m mentoring a group of young scholars in the Humanities to help them do research, and I’m starting to hate this task. Young scholars almost without exception think that scholarship is entirely about repeating woke slogans completely uncritically. Again, this is different from the USSR where scholars peppered their writing with the slogans but always took great pride in trying to sneak in some real thinking and real analysis behind the required ideological drivel. Every Soviet scholar starting from the 1970s was a dissident at heart because everybody knew that the ideology was rotten.

    All of this is sad and very scary. I never thought I’d experience anything worse, anything more intellectually stifling than the USSR of its last two decades of existence. But now I do see something worse.

    The book you are writing is very important, and I hope that many people hear your message.

Folks, Americans are extremely naive about what’s coming. We just cannot imagine that people who burst into tears in the face of gentle mockery of their political beliefs can ever come to power. They are already in power, in the sense that they have mesmerized leaders of American institutions. I’m telling you, that 2015 showdown on Yale’s campus between Prof. Nicholas Christakis and the shrieking students was profoundly symbolic. Christakis used the techniques of discursive reason to try to establish contact with these young people. None of it mattered. They yelled and cursed and sobbed. The fact that he disagreed with them, they took as an assault on their person.

And Yale University caved to them!

RTWT

18 Feb 2020

The Salovey Administration Destroys Another Great Yale Department

, , , , ,


The late Vincent Scully lecturing Eurocentrically years ago.

Heather MacDonald, BK ’70, demolishes the cant being used to justify remodeling Yale’s once-illustrious History of Art Department into a distribution center for Marxist agitprop and Multicultural Identity Stroking.

By 1974, when I enrolled at Yale, its faculty had long since abdicated one of its primary intellectual responsibilities. It observed a chaste silence about what undergraduates needed to study in order to have any hope of becoming even minimally educated; curricular selections, outside of a few broad distribution requirements, were left to students, who by definition did not know enough to choose wisely, except by accident. So it was that I graduated without having taken a single history course (outside of one distribution-fulfilling intellectual history class), despite easy access to arguably the strongest American history faculty in the country. Scully’s fall semester introductory art history course has been my anchor to the past, providing visual grounding in the development of Western civilization, around which it is possible to develop a broader sense of history.

But now, the art history department is junking the entire two-semester sequence, as the Yale Daily News reported last month. Given the role that these two courses have played in exposing Yale undergraduates to the joys of scholarship and knowledge, one would think that the department would have amassed overwhelmingly compelling grounds for eliminating them. To the contrary, the reasons given are either laughably weak or at odds with the facts. The first reason is the most absurd: the course titles (“Introduction to the History of Art: Prehistory to the Renaissance” and “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present”). Art history chair Tim Barringer apparently thinks students will be fooled by those titles into thinking that other traditions don’t exist. “I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places,” he primly told the Daily News. No one else would, either. But if the titles are such a trap for the Eurocentric unwary, the department could have simply added the word “European” before “Art” and been done with it. (Barringer, whose specialities include post-colonial and gender studies as well as Victorian visual culture, has been teaching the doomed second semester course—a classic example of the fox guarding the henhouse.)

Barringer also claims that it was “problematic” to put European art on a pedestal when so many other regions and traditions were “equally deserving of study.” The courses that will replace the surveys will not claim to “be the mainstream with everything else pushed to the margins,” he told the Daily News. Leave aside for the moment whether the European tradition may legitimately form the core of an art history education in an American university. The premise of Barringer’s statement—that previously European art was put on a pedestal and everything else was pushed to the margins—is blatantly false. The department requires art history majors to take two introductory-level one-semester survey courses. Since at least 2012, the department has offered courses in non-Western art that can fulfill that requirement in lieu of the European surveys. Those classes include “Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture”; “Introduction to the History of Art: Sacred Art and Architecture”; “Global Decorative Arts”; “The Politics of Representation”; and “The Classical Buddhist World.” No one was forced into the two Western art courses.

Nor would anyone surveying the art history catalogue think that Yale was “privileging” the West, as they say in theoryspeak. That catalogue is awash in non-European courses. In addition to the introductory classes mentioned above, the department offers “Japan’s Classics in Text and Image”; “Introduction to Islamic Architecture”; “The Migrant Image”; “Sacred Space in South Asia”; “Visual Storytelling in South Asia”; “Aztec Art & Architecture”; “Black Atlantic Photography”; “Black British Art and Culture”; “Art and Architecture of Mesoamerica”; “The Mexican Cultural Renaissance, 1920– 1940”; “Painting and Poetry in Islamic Art”; “Aesthetics and Meaning in African Arts and Cultures”; “Korean Art and Culture”; “African American Art, 1963 to the Present”; “Art and Architecture of Japan”; “Textiles of Asia, 800–1800 C.E.”; and “Art and Politics in the Modern Middle East,” among other courses. The Western tradition is just one among many. Nevertheless, Marissa Bass, the director of undergraduate studies in the department, echoed Barringer’s accusation of Eurocentrism. The changes recognize “an essential truth: that there has never been just one story of the history of art,” Bass told the Daily News. But Yale does not tell just one story of the history of art. Department leaders have created a parody of their own department simply in order to kill off the Western survey courses.

Those courses must also be sacked because it is impossible to cover the “entire field—and its varied cultural backgrounds—in one course,” as the Daily News put it. If this statement means that the span of time covered in each of the one-semester Western art classes is too large, non-Western survey courses are as broad or broader. “Chinese Painting and Culture” covers 16 centuries. “Power, Gender, and Ritual in African Art” covers nearly two millennia. “Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture” covers seven centuries. “Introduction to the History of Art: Sacred Art and Architecture” covers several millennia. None of these courses is facing extinction.

Barringer promises that the replacement surveys will subject European art to a variety of deconstructive readings designed to pull that tradition down from its alleged pedestal. The new classes will consider Western art in relation to “questions of gender, class, and ‘race,’” he told the Daily News in an email, carefully putting scare quotes around “race” to signal his adherence to the creed that race is a social construct. The new courses will discuss the involvement of Western art with capitalism. Most intriguingly, the relationship between Western art and climate change will be a “key theme,” he wrote.

Barringer’s proposed deconstruction of Western art illustrates a central feature of modern academia: The hermeneutics of suspicion (Paul Ricoeur’s term for the demystifying impulse that took over the humanities in the late 20 century) applies only to the Western canon. Western academics continue to interpret non-Western traditions with sympathy and respect; those interpreters seek to faithfully convey the intentions of non-Western creators and to help students understand what makes non-Western works great. So, while the replacement European art survey courses will, in Marissa Bass’s words, “challenge, rethink, and rewrite” art historical narratives, the department will not be cancelling its Buddhist art and architecture class due to the low representation of female artists and architects, nor will it “interrogate” (as High Theory puts it) African arts and cultures for their relationship to genocidal tribal warfare, or Aztec art and architecture for their relationship to murderous misogyny.

A must-read.

29 Jan 2020

Yale’s Latest PC Gesture Makes the Spectator

, , , , , ,

cole_thomas_the_course_of_e
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1833-1836, New York Historical Society.

James Panero tells us that Yale imported a Cambridge bolshie to “decolonize” the History of Art Department.

Are we in our own revolutionary moment? Many of our leading institutions clearly believe so. Yale University has been working overtime to prove it is on the right side of history. ‘Problematic’ colleges have been renamed. ‘Offensive’ stained-glass windows have been knocked out. Only the leadership of an Ivy League school could spread such a poisonous rash. Heading the charge against the Dead White Male has been a progressive Yale bureaucracy that is, for the most part, pale and stale.

Now the task of dismantling Yale’s famous art history survey course has fallen to a scholar I respect, Tim Barringer. British-born, Barringer is the Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University and has been a leading curator at the Metropolitan Museum. He even mounted the Met’s exceptional 2018 exhibition on Thomas Cole.

Following a 2017 mandate to ‘decolonize’ Yale’s Department of English, Barringer is giving over the keys of Yale’s famous art survey course to the identity vandals. According to the Yale Daily News, instead of one class that will tell the story of art from ‘Renaissance to the Present’, new courses will, Barringer says, be devised to consider art in relation to a five-step history lesson, ‘questions of gender, class and race’, with further discussion of art’s ‘involvement with Western capitalism’. Of course, ‘climate change’ will also be a ‘key theme’.

Art doesn’t fare well in revolutionary times. Likewise, revolutionary sentiments are often revealed in the treatment of art. If only Professor Barringer had looked more carefully at another five-step history lesson, Thomas Cole’s ‘Course of Empire’ tableau (1833-36), he might have seen how civilizations burn down from decadence as well as assault.

RTWT

That whirring sound you hear in the background is grand old Yale Art History professors, men like Sumner Crosby who taught the Gothic Cathedral course and Charles Seymour who taught the Italian Renaissance Art course, who fished for salmon together every summer on the Upsalquitch, spinning in their graves at 78 RPM.

25 Jan 2020

Yale Kills Renowned Art History Survey Course

, , , ,


Jan Matejko, Stanczyk during a Ball at the Court of Queen Bona after the Loss of Smolensk, 1862.

July 1514: Stanczyk, the famous jester of Sigismund the Old, was renowned for his cynical humor, but Matejko shows the jester in a private moment of despair in a palace anteroom outside the royal ball being given by Queen Bona Sforza. On the table next to the jester, we see dispatches announcing the fall of Smolensk to the Muscovites. Alone among the denizens of Poland’s royal court, only Stanczyk the jester forsees with dread the rise of Moscow and the destruction of the Commonwealth.

————————

If Stanczyk were employed as jester these days at Yale Universuty in New Haven, Connecticut, he’d probably looked similarly after reading this Yale Daily News story.

Yale 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.

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.

“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 said in an email to the 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.”

Instead of this singular survey class, the Art History Department will soon offer a range of others, such as “Art and Politics,” “Global Craft,” “The Silk Road” and “Sacred Places.” Barringer added that in two or three years, his department will offer a substitute class to “Introduction to Art History.” But the new class “will be a course equal in status to the other 100-level courses, not the introduction to our discipline claiming to be the mainstream with everything else pushed to the margins,” Barringer said.

RTWT

It’s essential, you see, to flatter the amour propre of representatives of Identity Victim Groups (specially recruited and affirmatively actioned into Yale) by assuring them that the crude carvings of devils and bogeys their Stone Age ancestors turned out are the equivalent of Michelangelo’s David.

20 Jan 2020

Yale Faculty Members Say Yale Needs Political Diversity

, ,

Jessica Custodio, at Campus Reform, reports:

While Yale University has been pushing for an increased diversity of staff based on race, gender, and sexual orientation, some faculty members are speaking out about the lack of political diversity.

The Yale Daily News spoke with professors at the Ivy League institution for their perspectives on data from the school’s Office of Institutional Research showing that faculty diversity is on the rise when it comes to gender and culture.

Many criticized what they claimed to be a lack of effort to have a faculty body surrounding the current political ideology seen throughout the nation. The publication referenced a 2017 survey revealing that close to 75 percent of Yale professors self-identify as liberal with less than 10 percent identifying as conservative.

“Yale talks a lot of diversity, but basically all that diversity means here is skin color… there’s definitely no diversity here when it comes to politics,” said history professor Carlos Eire.”

“The liberal point of view is taken to be objective-not an opinion, not a set of beliefs, said Eire, adding that his own views are nonpartisan, “There’s an assumption that goes unquestioned that if you’re not part of the herd groupthink there’s something wrong with you.”

“[It’s] not helpful if you want to have an open society with creative and productive political dialogue… if everything you say is immediately invalid because you are not virtuous then there’s no dialogue,” Eire added.

Computer science professor David Gelernter agreed with his colleague, saying that the political diversity at Yale is “0 percent” and that there are “few conservatives, including prominent ones.”

“Of course, not many conservatives exist in most academic fields. But there’s no competition to get them either,” Gelernter added.

English professor Mark Oppenheimer spoke of his experience attending Yale as a student and compared it to the state of affairs today.

“My sense today is that the social cost that one would pay for having certain conservative views is very strong… and that effectively is a form of censorship, because to say people can say what they want, but they might pay for it by having far fewer friends, or being shunned, is not really to say that they can say what they want.”

RTWT

14 Jan 2020

The Late Harold Bloom

,


Harold Bloom, right, with John Ward of Oxford University Press in New York on April 17, 1970.

The Yale Alumni Magazine, in the latest issue, collects anecdotes about the late Harold Bloom, testifying to both his genius and his eccentricity.

Bloom was wearing a stretched-out orange sweater, and he had begun reading from the moving Conclusion to Walter Pater’s The Renaissance. While continuing to recite (he knew this, like all texts, by heart), Bloom began to remove the sweater. But it got stuck as it passed over his head, so we could hear oracular utterances about life’s irredeemable evanescence continue to come from out of a gyrating mass of wool, until, the garment subdued at last, Bloom pronounced: “That is the most profound thing that was ever written.”

–Richard Brodhead ’68, ’72PhD
Bird White Housum Professor of English at Yale
Dean of Yale College 1993–2004
President of Duke 2004–2017

Harold was as devoted a teacher as I’ve ever known. “I am,” he often said, “a teacher first and last, and they’re going to have to carry me out of the classroom in a coffin.” It came close to that: he taught on Thursday, and died on Monday.

He was hungrier for poetry than anyone I have ever encountered. Once, when my wife and I were over at the house on Linden Street—just after he’d returned from a long stay at rehab following an illness—we were sitting in the living room and talking when Harold’s eyes shifted a little to the right of, and just above, my shoulder while I was midsentence. He’d spotted the mailman coming up the path to the front door, and interrupted me: “Peter, could you get the mail?” as we heard the storm door opening and the bundles hitting the floor. I brought them to him. He began ripping into envelope after envelope with his teeth, clutching his cane, and ignoring us entirely. “Harold, expecting something important?” I asked him. Without looking up, and in total seriousness, he answered: “Maybe someone has sent me a great poem.” Most writers I know run the other way when other people’s poems draw near; there was the great Bloom, at 81 or so, just back from a hospital stay, panting after them like a golden retriever.

–Peter Cole, Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies and
Comparative Literature

RTWT

03 Jan 2020

Latest from Yale

, , ,

Milestones in the secularization of a university:

1899 – Yale installs its first president who is not an ordained clergyman.

1926 – Mandatory chapel-service attendance for Yale undergraduates abolished.

1958 – Communist William Sloane Coffin appointed Yale Chaplain.

2019 – In an apparent bid to stave off marginalization and irrelevance, the Yale chaplain’s office offers undergraduates access to a toddler-style bouncy castle.

“Check out our new Bouncy Castle for your anxiety relief needs. Bring a friend and bounce out your stress. We’ll be up around campus when the weather is nice. Follow us at #YaleChaplainsBounce”

HT: John Brewer.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Yale' Category.








Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark