A seminar on the art, architecture, and urbanism of Rome where the layering of material artifacts from successive historical periods provides an uninterrupted record of more than two thousand years. Development of the urban site establishes a continuous framework and contextualizes the cultural, artistic, and political aspirations and values of the Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque city.
The course includes lectures and discussions on selected topics and student reports on their research. Some lectures are organized around historic spectacles – the Emperor Augustus’ funeral (14 A.D.), Constantine the Great’s triumphal procession (312), and the consecration of New St. Peter’s (1626) – imagined as walks through Rome highlighting the city’s evolving cultural and urban character. Other topics may consider a single building architect or idea in depth. The first half of the course covers Antiquity to the Renaissance while the second looks in greater detail at specific Renaissance and Baroque projects. Topics in the first part include the growth and decline of the ancient Roman city, the creation of new architectural forms and urban meanings in response to the Christianization of Empire, and the practice of pilgrimage as urban experience. The second part focuses on the style and meaning of those works of art, architecture, and urbanism which distinguish Rome today such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling, Bramante’s design for New St. Peter’s, and Bernini’s sculpture for the rebuilt basilica. In general, the approach of the first half emphasizes the historical and cultural foundations which constitute the idea of Rome while the second takes up more theoretical issues of representation and reception.