Yale for Life

Yale: Myth and Reality, Past and Present

June 9-15, 2019

This spectacular program will be an eclectic intellectual ramble through Yale itself:  a course that can only be taught here on-campus at Yale!  We will explore (literally, bring your walking shoes!) Yale’s social history, its stunning art and architecture, its maps, photos, literature and its many treasures, collections… and secrets.  This field-trip-centric, “movable feast” of Yale will dazzle you with Yale’s depth and scope, its immense impact, its romance and tumult, and the amazing richness that an institution can achieve over more than three centuries.  We will learn about relations between Yale and Yale people — from Ezra Stiles and Noah Webster to Cole Porter, Henry Roe Cloud, and Maya Lin.  And we will examine Yale’s (ongoing) centrality within American society and culture — Elihu Yale and the global eighteenth century; Benjamin Silliman and the emergence of American science; Walter Camp, Dink Stover, and the all-American boy; Henry Luce and the information age; faith and ideology in postwar Yale and America.  Until you spend this week with us, you really don’t know Yale!  We are delighted to have as our week-long lead faculty:  Edward (Ned) Cooke, Charles F. Montgomery Professor of the History of Art, Director of the Center of Study in American Decorative Arts and Material Culture, and Professor of American Studies; and Jay Gitlin, Senior Lecturer History & Associate Director Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers & Borders, who teaches the extremely popular, and always over-enrolled, undergraduate history seminar, “Yale and America.”  They will be joined by impressive slate of guest faculty and leaders of extraordinary field trips and special events.

Our Lead Faculty:

Jay Gitlin
Associate Director, the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers & Borders; Senior Lecturer in History; Chair, Committee on Canadian Studies, The MacMillan Center

Professor Jay Gitlin received his BA, M.Mus., and PhD at Yale. His work focuses on the history of the French in North America. His book, Country Acres and Cul-de-sacs: Connecticut Circle Magazine Reimagines the Nutmeg State, 1938-1952 has just been published. He is currently working on The Rise and Fall of Modern Shopping. The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders & American Expansion won the 2010 Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize for the best book in French colonial history. Prof. Gitlin is a faculty advisor to the Native American Cultural Center at Yale and is currently teaching a new course with Professor Paul Kennedy on “Cities of Empire.” He is also a gold card member of the American Federation of Musicians and started playing jazz and dance music before he arrived at Yale College.

Edward Cooke
Charles F Montgomery Professor of the History of Art, Director of the Center of Study in American Decorative Arts and Material Culture; Professor of American Studies

Professor Edward S. Cooke, Jr., focuses upon American material culture and decorative arts. He served as the Chair of History of Art from 2000 to 2006 and from 2012 to 2016. Since his arrival at Yale in 1992, he served as Director of the Yale Center for the Study of American Art and Material Culture, a group of interested Yale faculty, graduate students, and museum professionals who meet weekly during the semester for presentations on the theme of that academic year. The participants are drawn by a scholarly interest in the study, analysis, and interpretation of material culture. Among his many awards are the Iris Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Decorative Arts (2010), and the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teacher of Art History Award (2018).

Learn More About our Lead Faculty!

Guest Professors

Our seminars with lead faculty are supplemented by additional seminars with amazing guest instructors.  These scholars bring a variety of different perspectives to our subject, from Yale’s architecture to the lore of the Secret Societies, and more.  Yale for Life continues its emphasis on interdisciplinary study, not only through the variety in the core syllabus, but through these world-class leaders of Yale’s intellectual portfolio.

Patrick Pinnell FAIA CNU APA NCARB
Former Head of Yale Environmental Design Graduate Research Program

Patrick Pinnell’s many publications include articles on the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright (using Taliesin Foundation archives), on Yale’s Beinecke Library, and on various issues in the history and theory of architecture and urbanism. The Campus Guide: Yale University, a book on the history and buildings of the campus and their place within New Haven, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. He is a former Elector of the Wadsworth Atheneum, the nation’s oldest art museum, and advises it on development and planning. He serves on the boards of Connecticut Landmarks, of the Burr-McManus Trust (which oversees Hartford’s Burr Mall and monumental Calder “Stegosaurus”), and is on the advisory board of Historic New England.

David Alan Richards ’67, ’72LAW
President, Yale Library Associates

David Richards is the President of the Yale Library Associates, an associate Fellow of Davenport College, a member of the University Librarian’s Development Council, and the author of 2017’s Skulls and Keys: The Hidden History of Yale’s Secret Societies. He was an American Studies major at Yale, and holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Keasbey Scholar. He is also the author of the British Library-published Rudyard Kipling: A Bibliography (2010), and two other books on that Nobel Prize-winner, and his collection of first editions and manuscripts of that author has made Yale the world center of Kipling studies. He is now writing a history of the university library.

Several more exciting guest professors will be announced very shortly!

Learn More About our Guest Faculty!


All Yale for Life courses actually start months before our June meeting.  After registration, you will receive all books and scholarly articles for the course, and will immerse yourself in great works curated by our faculty.  “Yale: Myth and Reality, Past and Present” is no exception, with works ranging from contemporaneous writings to great books written by your own Yale for Life professors.  Primary sources will mix with authoritative texts to produce night after night of joy as you prepare for your return to the life of the mind.

See an excerpt from a Yale for Life Reading List

Special Events

One of Yale for Life’s unique and most beloved features are our Special Events; sessions at a number of Yale’s well-known (such as the Yale Art Gallery) or less-known (such as a 2012 session at the not-yet-processed Kissinger Papers) centers of collection and learning.  “Yale: Myth and Reality, Past and Present” continues this tradition.

Details on the Special Events will be posted soon.

Learn more about Yale for Life special events

Beyond the Classroom

Everything that happens during the Yale for Life program is colored by the fact that it takes place at Yale.  Learn more about the experience!

Learn more about the living at Yale experience
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