Art History enrollments at the college level are declining as students flock to STEM majors and perceive Art History as dated and of little use in today’s modern, scientific world. Yet Art History classes can teach valuable skills. When taught in a broad context, the objects art history studies engage critical thinking and can generate new forms of knowledge. However, the pedagogical structure and content of introductory art history survey course does not always offer students the creative leeway to make these connections. Instructors at the college level often retreat to the methods and content that have been a part of the discipline since its inception in the late 19thcentury; the professor as expert authority on the western canon of objects and the grand narrative of progressive development that accompanies them. As university students are becoming more ethnically and socially diverse, the objects covered in the survey continue to speak to a white, European audience that is no longer the only audience listening. While art history remains useful, its canon of objects has become problematic, and reinforces the othering of the non- western world.
This essay will first examine how the modern canon and art history’s pedagogical practices came to be by examining the history of the discipline, and the theories, methods and texts that developed alongside academic art history. It will then take a brief look at how modern philosophy, primarily the conceptual ideas of Deleuze and Guattari, can provide a new framework for examining how the teaching of art history can be globalized and taught in a more meaningful way.