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COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in Modern and Contemporary Art: Art and Architecture under Fascism"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Sarah Linford
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W 2:15-5:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: One previous course in Art History or permission of the instructor
OFFICE HOURS: TH 4:30-6:30 PM or by appointment (note: no office hours TH Oct. 4th or 25th)

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of the art of the modern and contemporary world. Courses are normally research-
led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

This course will examine the development of modern art and architecture in Rome under Italy’s fascist regime (1922 – 1943) and its aftermath. There will be an emphasis on the experience of visual culture in public settings such as the exhibition space and the built environment. A wide range of cultural artefacts will be examined, paying attention to material as well as visual aspects. Visual material will be situated in the social, cultural and political circumstances of the period. Key themes will include the tensions between tradition and modernity, as well as regionalism, nationalism, and internationalism.


The course aims to explore the range and complexities of cultural production and consumption under the fascist dictatorship. Rather than considering fascism as a monolithic concept, students will be encouraged to think in terms of multiple, competing fascisms. Discussions of critical readings will seek to problematize concepts of consent and dissent, and consider the relationship between text and context in the production of meaning.


You will be able to:

·         Develop a nuanced understanding of Italian fascism and a thorough knowledge of the visual culture of this period


·         Gain an understanding of critical approaches to fascism and culture


·         Explore the legacies of the visual culture of the fascist period and debates surrounding its exhibition


·         Develop advanced skills in the analysis of art, public architecture and the decorative arts


·         Engage critically with theoretical and historical texts and deploy these in the analysis of visual examples


·         Analyze the visual culture of this period in its historical and political context


·         Structure and write an essay discussing architecture or public monuments in relation to texts, using visual analysis and cited research as evidence



Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's ItalySimonetta Falasca-ZamponiBerkeley9780520226777  

Preparation and Participation in class discussions This course meets only once per week and is largely on site; therefore, attendance is essential. The lectures are not composed simply of a tour of monuments, but will involve complex analysis at the sites themselves. In order to grasp the concepts presented in course readings and hand-outs, participation is essential. Students will be evaluated on their attention to lectures by questions asked and ideas discussed. Engagement with in-class assignments will also be evaluated.15%
Three exercises in observation and critical thinking about art and architecture under FascismThe three exercises consist of 1) one on site note-taking and observation exercice in order to hone knowledge of urban form. Students will be provided with a series of questions to which they will respond in writing while observing specific monuments and thinking about the relation between ideology and public spaces; 2) one 10 mn oral presentation about a building, monument or artwork that concludes with questions to the class as a whole; 3) one written response to one of the readings (required or recommended) to serve as introduction to the discussion of that week’s readings ; the written response may be posted for student comments at least 24 hours in advance of class or handed in to the professor at the beginning of that class. The response should demonstrate the student’s ability to briefly summarize, problematize and open up to discussion the reading. Please note: Topics and dates for the second and third assignment are to be determined with the professor week 3.These exercises will be evaluated individually according to accuracy and engagement with the material, but the final grade will be based on the 3 exercises taken together. 15%
Mid-termThe midterm examination will be composed of: •Short answer questions: Definitions of terms, specific questions regarding monuments we have observed or issues discussed in the assigned readings •Slide comparisons: identify 2 buildings, monuments or artworks, their makers and dates, then compare and contrast the works in a short essay, supporting your discussion with relevant information from assigned readings and lectures •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.25%
Term PaperYou will produce a term paper of on a specific monument or artwork taken from the period discussed in class. The paper will be based on a combination of research and direct observation, drawing on the skills developed in the on-site exercises. A list of suggested topics will be provided, though students may suggest their own topics, to be approved by the professor. Please refer to the course outline below for deadlines.20%
Final ExamThe format for the final exam will be the same as the midterm, with slide identifications and comparisons covering only material since the midterm. The essay questions will be on topics taken from themes discussed in the entire course.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 ____________
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.





- On site: W 2:15-5:00 PM 

- Classroom:  C25 W 1:30-4:15 PM

  week 1 (September 5th): introductory lecture needs to be in a classroom

  week 3 (September 19th): comparative materials and issues require a classroom

               week 6 (October 10th): midterm review needs to be in a classroom

               week 7 (October 17th) midterm and essay writing workshop need to be in a classroom

- Make-up class: week 5 (no class Wednesday, October 31st)




Course outline and assignments.

Week 1                                 Introductory lecture: course content, logistics and

                        “The Myth of National Regeneration from Modernist Avant-Garde to Fascism”

Date                                      Wednesday, September 5th

Meeting place                        Classroom C25, 1:30-4:15pm

Week 2                                 Birth of a Nation

Date                                      Wednesday, September 12th

Meeting place                      Piazza della Repubblica in front of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Itinerary                               Piazza della Repubblica, Via Nazionale (Palazzo delle Esposizioni),                                               Monument to Vittorio Emanuele

Assigned Reading               Terry Kirk,  “The Challenge of Tradition, 1750-1900” in The Architecture                                        of Modern Italy. Princeton Architectural Press, 2005:

                                                 pp. 87-89; 112-122; 219- 245. 

                                                Available as an ebook via Frohring Library.

Week 3                             “Revolutionary Tradition” — The State as Patron of the Arts

Date                                    Wednesday, September 19th

Meeting Place                     Classroom C25, 1:30-4:15pm

Assigned Reading               Marla Stone, “The State as Patron: Making Official Culture in Fascist                                                Italy” in Fascist Visions Art and Ideology in France and Italy,  

                                                Princeton University Press, 1997:  pp. 205-238. 

                                                Availablein the Frohring Library: N8846.F8F3

Week 4                    “Revolutionary Tradition” — Painting and Sculpture

Date                                      Wednesday, September 26th

Meeting Place                        2:15pm at the exit of Metro A Manzoni stop

Itinerary                                 Collezione Cerasi, Palazzo Merulana 


Assigned Reading               Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, “Introduction” in Fascist Spectacle: 

                                                The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy, Berkeley, 1997: 

                                                pp. 1 – 14.

                                                Available as an ebook via Frohring Library.

Week 5a                                Fascist Socialism in the Garbatella           

Date                                  *** Monday, October 1st***

Meeting Place                     2: 15pm At the exit of Metro B Garbatella stop

Itinerary                              Garbatella from Piazza Benedetto Brin to Piazza Eugenio Biffi.

Assigned Reading               Richard Etlin, “A Modern Vernacular Architecture” in Modernism in                                                             Italian Architecture, 1890 – 1940, MIT Press, 1991: pp. 129-161

                                                Available as an ebook via Frohring Library.    

Week 5b                                 Prati: A Military History

Date                                       Wednesday, October 3rd

Meeting Place                      Piazza Mazzini

Itinerary                                Della Vittoria (post office), Piazza della Libertà, Casa Madre dei                                                    Mutilati, Museo dei Carabinieri

Assigned Reading               Roger Griffin, I Am No Longer Human. I Am A Titan. A God!’ 

                                                The Fascist Quest to Regenerate Time, E-seminars in History, 

                                                Institute of historical Research, University of London School of 

                                                Advanced Study (n.d.)

                                                Available as a PDFhere: 


Week 6                                 Fascist Modernisms

                                              Mid-term review

Date                                     Wednesday, October 10th

Meeting Place                      Classroom, 1:30-4:15pm

Assigned Reading               Mark Antliff, Fascism, Modernism, and Modernity, The Art Bulletin                                               (March, 2002):  pp. 148 – 169.

                                                Available as an e-article via Frohring Library.

Week 7                               Mid-term examination(1 hr 30 mins) & 

                                            Essay writing workshop (1hr 15 min)

Date                                     Wednesday, October 17th  

Meeting Place                     Classroom, 1:30-4:15pm


Week 8                               Making History Present: Archaeological excavations under Fascism

                                                Looking/writing exercise due incClass (hardcopy)

Date                                    Wednesday, October 24th   

Meeting Place                     Largo di Torre Argentina, in front the Feltrinelli library

Itinerary                               Largo di Torre Argentina, Via delle Botteghe Oscure, Piazza Venezia                                                            and Palazzo Venezia, Via dei Fori Imperiali

Assigned Reading               Charles Burdett, Journeys to the other spaces of Fascist ItalyModern                                             Italy, vol. 5, no. 1(2000): pp. 7 – 23.

                                                Onreserveat Frohring library.

Week 9                                   no class Wednesday October 31st 

(this lecture is anticipated by a make-up class on September 21st to visit the Collezione Cerasi)

Week 10                           Fascism and the Cult of the Body: Il Foro Italico

Date                                      Wednesday, November 7th 

Meeting Place                      In front of the obelisk at the Foro Italico

Itinerary                                Academy of Physical Education and Marble Stadium; 

                                              Obelisk and Foro Mussolini

Assigned Reading             Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, excerpt from Fascist Spectacle: 

                                                The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy(op. cit.), 

                                                pp. 68-78.

                                                Available as an ebook via Frohring Library.


Week 11                              Materials and Design: Casa GIL, Testaccio neighborhood, 

                                                Ostiense Post Office, Stazione Ostiense

Date                                        Wednesday, November 14th

Meeting Place                      Viale Trastevere in front of the Ministry for Public Instruction

Itinerary                                Casa GIL, walk through Testaccio, Ostiense Post Office, Stazione Ostiense

Assigned Reading               Jeffrey Schnapp, The Fabric of Modern TimesCritical Inquiry

                                                vol. 24, no. 1 (1997): pp. 191 - 245.

                                                Available as an e-articlevia Frohring Library.


Week 12                              Empire Building I: E42 (the EUR district)

Date                                    Wednesday, November 21st

Meeting Place                      At the exit of Metro B Magliana stop

Itinerary                               Square Colosseum, Restaurant Building, Expo Building, 

                                                Palazzo dei Congressi, Piazza Marconi

Assigned Reading            Mia Fuller, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Fascist Plans for 

                                                the colonial City of Addis Ababa and the Colonising Suburb of EUR                                              ‘42’Journal of Contemporary History(special issue on the aesthetics                                              of Fascism), vol. 31, no. 2 (1996): pp. 397 – 418.

                                                Available as an e-article via Frohring Library.


Week 13                              The Cult of Death under the regime: Piazza Augusto Imperatore

Date                                     Wednesday, November 28th

Meeting Place                      Via Portico dOttavia, in front of the ancient monument

Itinerary                                Piazza Augusto Imperatore and the Ara Pacis

Assigned Reading               Anne Thomas Wilkins, Augustus, Mussolini, and the Parallel Imagery                                              of Empire, in Claudia Lazzaro and Roger J. Crum (Ed.), Donatello                                               among the Blackshirts: History and Modernity in the Visual Culture                                                of Fascist Italy,Cornell University Press, 2004: pp. 53 – 65.

                                                Availablein the Frohring Library: N8846.I8 D66

Week 14                              The 1960s & Postmodern Rome

                                             Term Paper Due in Class (hardcopy)

Date                                     Wednesday,  December 5th

Meeting Place                      Villaggio Olimpico

Itinerary                                Villaggio Olimpico, Palazzetto dello Sport, Auditorium, MAXXI.



               (Final exam session for Fall 2018 runs Monday, December 10th to Friday, December 14th)