Department of Art and Art History News

President Obama Responds to Ann John's Defense of Art History

Tue. February 25, 2014

handwritten note from Barack Obama to Ann Johns

Ann Johns, senior lecturer in Art History, has recently been in the news after she received a handwritten note of apology from President Obama. The note came in response to a message Johns submitted via the White House website in which she defended the field of art history after Obama made off-the-cuff remarks during a speech at a manufacturing plant in which he said "folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree". (He quickly added, "Nothing wrong with art history degree. I love art history.") According to Johns, her message "was not so much one of outrage at Obama’s statement, but rather a ‘look what we do well’ statement. I emphasized that as art historians, we challenge our students to think, read and write critically. I also stressed how inclusive our discipline is these days."

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