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.

This is a seminar, so students’ independent study and research is important. About one hour per week will be synchronous group discussion. About two hours of powerpoint lectures will be available on the course site for asynchronous study. Assigned and recommended readings are on the course site except for two books which students should acquire. Students’ are responsible for studying the lectures and readings and preparing for the group discussions. The last weeks of the course will be devoted to students’ presentation of their independent research projects. A more fully developed version of the report will be submitted as a final paper.

Course Structure: The structure is that of a “flipped” course where students are responsible for preparing the materials provided and class meetings are devoted to discussion. Two lectures of one hour each will be posted on the course site each week for students to watch at their convenience. In weeks 2 through 9 on the syllabus the whole class will meet via Zoom or an equivalent platform on Thursdays from 10:00-11:00 to discuss the lectures and assigned readings for that week. In week 1, there will be a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, the first day of class, and no meeting on Thursday. In weeks 10-13 there will be meetings both Tuesdays and Thursday 10-11:30 to hear student reports. We will use the Tuesday time slot for Office Hours. I would like to see everyone at least once about their seminar report topic before Spring Break.