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COURSE NAME: "Politics and Power in Roman Architecture - Augustus to Mussolini"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Laura Foster
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T 9:15-12:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: On-site; activity fee: €25 or $33

This on-site survey investigates the history of Rome primarily through its monuments—its architecture and urban form. This course will provide the student with a clear grasp of how the city of Rome has changed over the course of two thousand years from a modest Iron Age settlement on the Palatine Hill to a thriving modern metropolis of the twentieth century. The student will become intimately acquainted with the topography, urban makeup and history of the city and its monuments and will acquire the theoretical tools needed to examine, evaluate and critically assess city form, design and architecture.

The first on-site visits will consider the ways in which Roman emperors used architecture and urban form as the chief means of representing their reign. The course will then examine the dual role of the papacy as head of the Western Church and as secular ruler from the Middle Ages through the Baroque periods, representing itself as the rightful inheritor of Imperial Rome through the design and decoration of ecclesiastical and secular structures. Several lectures will be dedicated to the study of neighborhoods in order to imagine what life was like for common Romans in different historical periods, contrasting local building traditions to grand architectural monuments. Finally, the course will take up Rome’s transformation as the capital of a modern nation-state and reflect upon the possibilities for contemporary architecture when measured against the city’s imposing past.


•the ability to discuss works of architecture and urban spaces in terms of their formal design and physical context

•an understanding of the methodological tools used to study architecture and urbanism

•the ability to identify changes in architecture over time and to recognize period styles and techniques of construction

•broad knowledge of Rome’s political history and urban development

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Rome: An Urban History from Antiquity to the PresentRabun Taylor, Katherine W. Rinne, Spiro KostofCambridge University Press9781107601499  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Rome. An Oxford Archeological GuideAmanda ClaridgeOxford University Press9780199546831  
The High Renaissance at St. Peter's and the Vatican: An Interpretive GuideGeorge HerseyUniversity of Chicago Press9780226327822   
Baroque & RococoVernon Hyde MinorPrentice-Hall9780130856494  
The Architecture of MichelangeloJames AckermanPenguin9780140211849  
The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2Terry KirkPrinceton Architectural Press9781568986326  Available as an e-book
The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 1Terry KirkPrinceton Architectural Press9781568986319 Available as an e-book

Class Attendance and ParticipationClasses on site are complex learning environments involving the first-hand observation of monuments as well as engaged attention to the lecture and discussion. In order to deepen an understanding of the concepts presented in readings and lectures, students will receive course handouts with exercises aimed at honing skills of observation and improving note-taking. Students should demonstrate their familiarity with readings and understanding of central historical and technical concepts through class discussion. Because classes take place exclusively on site, attendance is essential. Students who miss more than 2 classes without an official excuse will be referred to the Dean's office. Consistent punctuality will also be a factor in the participation grade. 10
Sketchbook/DiaryStudents will maintain a diary and sketchbook containing observation and description of monuments seen during class. The purpose of the sketchbook/diary is to encourage close observation of individual architectural elements and materials and to understand how the monuments manipulate urban space. The diary entries should demonstrate the understanding of terminology as well as engagement with the different monuments. Due dates for sketchbook/diary review are listed in the course schedule.20
Course Project and Paper: Piazza Augusto Imperatore Through HistoryStudents will work in small groups for the analysis of the area around Piazza Augusto Imperatore as it developed and transformed from the age of Augustus to the 21st century. On the date of the visit to this site, students will present their research. Individual papers will be submitted after the class has visited the piazza. Final papers will be submitted on Moodle and TurnItIn will be used for review. Please be sure to understand University policy regarding academic dishonesty, especially plagiarism which will not be tolerated in any form. If you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, see the JCU Library website.25
Midterm ExaminationThe midterm examination will cover the ancient and medieval periods (roughly from the 1st c. CE to 1400) and will be concerned with the students' understanding of essential historical concepts and the ability to apply correct architectural terminology. Students should be able to identify monuments by name, approximate dates, and function. The format of the exam includes: •Short answer questions regarding individual monuments: their appearance, construction, urban context and patronage. •Essay: A choice of two essay topics that treat general themes discussed in the first half of the course. You will need to provide specific examples taken from works discussed in class. 20
Final ExaminationThe final examination will cover the period from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The format is identical to that of the midterm exam. However, further understanding of the patrons and architects (for whom we have more knowledge than in the ancient and medieval eras) is expected.25

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until December 14.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Lecture Theme

Meeting Place

Reading assignments

Exams, due dates, messages

Sept 4

Course overview and introductory lecture


Rome: An Urban History, Chapters 1-3

Sept 11

The Forum as a Political Center from Republic to Empire

Entrance to Roman Forum on via dei Fori Imperiali

Rome: An Urban History, Chapters 4-7

Amanda Claridge, Rome (Oxford Archeological Guide), entries on the Roman Forum (pp. 62-68); Senate House (71-75); Basilica Julia (92-93); Forum of Julius Caesar (163-169); and Forum of Augustus (177-180).

Sept 18

Representing Empire in the Age of Trajan and Hadrian

Via dei Fori Imperiali, near the Column of Trajan

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 8-9

Claridge, Rome, entries on: Forum of Trajan (180-196); Temple of the Deified Hadrian (223-226); the Pantheon (227-232)

Sept 25

The Mega-Structures of Roman Entertainment

At the exit of the Metro B Circo Massimo stop, viale Aventino in front of the FAO

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 14-16

Claridge, Rome, entries on: Circus Maximus (299-300) and Baths of Caracalla (357-365)


Oct 2

The Rise of Papal Power and Uses of the Basilica

In front of Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 17-20


Diary due for review at the end of the class

Oct 9

Popes, Antipopes, Barons and Fiefdoms in Medieval Trastevere

JCU Guarini Campus Entrance

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 23-25


Oct 16

Midterm Exam, followed by site walk: The Removal of the Papacy and Its Triumphal Return, 1308-1470





Oct 23

Reimagining Rome from Sixtus IV to Julius II, 1471-1513

JCU Guarini Campus Entrance

Rome: An Urban History, Ch. 26-27

Oct 30

St. Peter’s and the Vatican

Piazza S. Pietro, near obelisk at center

Rome: An Urban History, Ch. 21

George Hersey, High Renaissance Art in St. Peter’s and the Vatican: An Interpretive Guide, Ch. 3 “The New St. Peter’s”


Nov 6

Conflicting Powers in the Counter Reformation

Piazza Farnese

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 28-29

James Ackerman, The Architecture of Michelangelo, Ch. 7 “The Farnese Palace”.  ALSO RECOMMENDED: Ch. 6 “The Capitoline Hill”. On permanent reserves in the library, NA1123.B9A63


Nov 13

Architecture and Self-Promotion in Baroque Rome

Piazza Barberini, near the Triton Fountain

Rome: An Urban History, Ch. 30

Vernon Hyde Minor, Baroque & Rococo, Ch. 3 “The Baroque Church: Setting for Mystery, Propaganda, & Worship”, pp. 75-87 only. On Course Reserves, N6410 .M56.

Patricia Waddy, Seventeenth-Century Roman Palaces:  Use and Art of the Plan, pp. 3-13.  On Course Reserves, DG797.9.W33.


Nov 20

Foreigners and the Power of the Picturesque from Alexander VII to Napoleon

Piazza del Popolo, near the obelisk at center

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 31-32

Vernon Hyde Minor, Baroque & Rococo, Ch. 7 “Landscapes & Views: Depictions of the Natural and Manmade World”, pp. 289-294 only. On Course Reserves, N6410 .M56.

Terry Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 1, Selections from Ch. 2 “Napoleon in Italy, 1800-1815” pp. 87-91 and 112-22 only.  On Course Reserves, NA1114 .K574 Vol 1.

Nov 27

Representing a Unified Italy, 1870-1921

Piazza della Repubblica, in front of Basilica S. Maria degli Angeli

Rome: An Urban History, Chs. 33-34

Terry Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 1, Selections from Ch. 4 “Unification and the Nation’s Capitals, 1860-1900”, p. 185 and pp. 222-259.

RECOMMENDED, ESPECIALLY FOR PROJECT: Spiro Kostof, The Third Rome. Available as pdf on Moodle


Dec 4

Mussolini’s New Empire and Lessons for Architecture in the Contemporary City

Museum of the Ara Pacis, on the steps

Rome: An Urban History, Ch. 35

Final Project Presentation