The Sideshow

Students required to buy art textbook with no pictures of art

The Sideshow

It sounds like an absurdist art project: A required text for an art class—containing no actual art images. But it's the reality at the Ontario College of Art and Design for students who enrolled in the course "Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800." The cost of such a worthless tome? A whopping 180 Canadian dollars (US $184.50).

The problem arose when the custom textbook ran into licensing agreements for pictures. This, for some reason, didn't cause educators to abandon the project, but instead publish it and make it required reading. As the blog BoingBoing pointed out, the art book "will not serve as any kind of lasting visual reference," sort of the point of those giant books on art.

The students launched an online petition to put a stop to the situation. It reads in part:

To ask us, the students--who mind you are already paying thousands of dollars--to pay 180.00$ plus tax, for a temporary textbook that does not have any pictures of the pieces we will be studying, is preposterous. Pictures are essential for studying art history, needless to say.

And giving us an extra online resource of the photos to go with the purchase of a textbook is really not enough.

The creation of this textbook is a waste of our money and should not have been printed until copyright permission was acquired.

The students ask that several options be considered: Dump the book for an older version. Put the book online along with images of the art being studied. Or refund the students at the end of the year the full amount of the picture-less art book.

Sounds like the college could learn a thing or two from its students.

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