James Elkins

"What's The Best Way to Teach Art, Design and Architecture History in the 2020s?" 


Wednesday, October 5, 2022 | 6:00PM | ARCH 132 DF Pray Lecture Theatre 

Watch the Zoom Recording

After Black Lives Matter there has been a lot of interest in revising the way art is shown in museums, how it’s taught in colleges and universities, and how it’s written about. The consensus view is that the old “master narratives” of European art have to be seen alongside narratives of art in other parts of the world. Sometimes this is done by introducing new themes, like racism, colonialism, and decolonialism. At the same time, museums, departments, and textbooks are trying to diversify, adding instructors, artists, and artworks from previously under-represented groups. None of these strategies have worked. The lecture will report on a project to write a next-generation textbook on world art, design, and architecture, involving a thorough interrogation of fundamental concepts including “space,” “form,” “culture,” and “art.” 

James Elkins is E.C. Chadbourne Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His most recent book is The End of Diversity in Art Historical Writing. He writes on art and non-art images. 


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