An art class at Toronto's Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University for short) is requiring its students to purchase a textbook on art history that costs a whopping $180.

So far, so whatever, but here's the kicker: The book — Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800 — doesn't contain any images of, you know, art.

Says Brent Ashley, the father of an OCAD University student: "Students have been told that the publisher couldn't get the copyright permissions settled in time for the print run, so students will have to read the book, and see the pictures online by following along on their computer."

The fact that the ironically titled book comes with no visual aids hasn't reduced its price, and the university is refusing to offer students a discount.

Ashley continues: "If I am going to have to pay $180 for an art history book that is of no resale value to next year's students, it had damn well better be an excellent visual reference with hard cover and full colour plates, to keep around for years, festooning my coffee table and that of my heirs."

The school's dean disputes Ashley's claims, saying the textbook is actually a compendium of excerpts from three different books, and the book was always intended to have no pictures. "If we had opted for print clearance of all the Stokstad and Drucker images," the dean wrote in a letter to students, "the text would have cost over $800."

[Techdirt via Geekosystem, screengrab via OCAD]