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COURSE NAME: "Researching Rome: Fieldwork in the City of Rome "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Isabella Clough Marinaro
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T 2:15-5:05 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites but it is strongly recommended that students have a background in contemporary Italian studies or anthropology/sociology/urban studies.
OFFICE HOURS: One hour before or after class and by appointment

This course guides students interested in executing an independent fieldwork project in the city of Rome. As a unique global city, Rome’s contemporary social, economic and political realities provide a fascinating context for observing and analyzing the production of culture, social and political change, and practices of everyday life. This seminar-style course guides students through the four main phases of their independent research project, helping them to: a) select a manageable and realistic case-study for their research, b) identify and interpret relevant theoretical and empirical literature, c) choose the most appropriate techniques of fieldwork observation, data collection and recording, and apply them in a rigorous, ethical and reflexive manner in the city of Rome, d) create a sophisticated written and visual report of their research findings and conclusions. Students will present their final projects to the JCU community during the last week of the semester.
In addition to each student's independent project, the class visits a number of Roman neighborhoods to apply theories and observation techniques learned throughout the course.

The course is structured as an on-going discussion between the professor and students during which, together, they decide the most appropriate ways of carrying out each student’s chosen research project and  of interpreting and presenting the findings. Students are required to read widely on contemporary Rome and global cities more broadly and they are introduced to the main methods of doing urban research. They learn to hone their observation skills, keeping a diary of all their fieldwork sessions, and to actively consider the ethical issues surrounding ethnographic research. Students are introduced to methods and theories of visual sociology and non-participant observation, enabling non-Italian speakers to study Rome’s social environment. They will participate in a variety of fieldwork observation activities with the professor in selected neighborhoods of Rome. Where linguistic skills permit, students are also trained in carrying out interviews and surveys in the field. Students will write a 10-15 page research report explaining the rationale, methods, results and conclusions of the project. They will also present their findings visually in the form of a photographic exhibition, a video documentary or a powerpoint presentation.

Students will present their final projects to the JCU community during the last week of the semester.


By the end of the course, students should be able to:

· Identify a key feature of contemporary social, economic or political dynamics in Rome and contextualize it within broader scholarship in    Italian studies and urban studies.

· Demonstrate knowledge of the main methods for carrying out fieldwork observation in an urban context and select the most appropriate for researching their topic.

· Construct an ethically rigorous research project.

· Organize their research time in an independent and disciplined way.

· Carry out their fieldwork observation in a systematic manner, identifying any problems and solving them in dialogue with the professor.

· Question, discuss and analyze their findings, incorporating feedback from class discussions into their final report.

· Present their findings in a clear and engaging manner to a large audience.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Global Rome. Changing Faces of the Eternal City Clough Marinaro, I. and Thomassen, B (eds) Indiana University Press 0253012953  

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The City Cultures Reader Borden, Iain, Tim Hall and Malcolm Miles (Eds) Routledge 2003 0415302455  
Summary of relevant theories and secondary materials 8 page essay outlining the main theories to be used in the research project and a summary of secondary materials that will be used in answering the research question.(15%)
Field journalStudents keep a detailed diary of their fieldwork sessions and will also be assessed on the progress, detail and sophistication of their fieldwork observation written up in their diary.(15%)
Participation in seminar discussions Students' participation in class discussions, their ability to outline and justify their research choices and refine them based on feedback are graded based on their engagement and responsiveness in class sessions. (10%)
Preliminary findings presentation Students give a 10-minute oral presentation explaining their preliminary findings and explaining how their research strategy will evolve.(10%)
Final visual presentation Students present their findings visually in the form of a photographic exhibition, a 10-minute video documentary or a powerpoint presentation.(20%)
Final report Students write a 10-15 page research report explaining the rationale, methods, results and conclusions of the project. Students may opt to do their research project in groups, ideally made up of Italian and non-Italian speakers , with the prior consent of the professor. They must divide their fieldwork tasks and responsibilities equally. They must write individual field diaries and must make it clear which elements of the presentations and final report they are responsible for, so that each student can be graded individually.(20%)
Research Method PlanStudents hand in a 2-page outline (in bullet points) of their realistic and manageable fieldwork research plan, including observation and/or interview methods and schedule of research.(10%)

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 c
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. Letter grades and corresponding percentages for this class 94 – 100 points = A 90 – 93.99 pts = A- 87 – 89.99 = B+ 83 – 86.99 = B 80 – 82.99 = B- 77 – 79.99 = C+ 70 – 76.99 = C 60 – 69.99 = D 59.99 – 0 = F


Attendance is mandatory for this class and you are expected to not miss any classes. If you do, for example for health reasons, I will accept a maximum of 1 absence after which I will deduct 3% of your final grade for each class missed."

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 10 May 2019.

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.




Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment

Week 1

22 Jan


In class

Studying the City: Space and Place. Introduction to doing fieldwork in the city.

Identify potential case-studies for research  

Introduction to Cities : How Place and Space Shape Human Experience


Chapter 1

(Read online:

ebook through EBL)

Students begin selecting research area/focus

Week 2

29 Jan

 In class

Lecture: Rome’s Urban and Social Development 

Global Rome: Changing Faces of the Eternal City


(Handout/Book on reserve)

Students narrow down research focus

Week 3

5 Feb

 On site

Testaccio visit – post-industrial urban change

Introduction to Cities : How Place and Space Shape Human Experience


Chapters 2&3

(Read online:

ebook through EBL)

Students identify narrow research topic/question. Start reading appropriate theoretical and secondary materials

Week 4

12 Feb

 In class and library

DEADLINE: Students declare  narrow and manageable research topic/question

Library Session

Lecture and discussion on ethnographic research methods.

Introduction to Cities : How Place and Space Shape Human Experience


Chapter 4

(Read online:

ebook through EBL)

Students write an 8 page summary of the relevant secondary literature on their chosen topic, to be handed in in Week 6

Week 5

19 Feb

 On site

Monti visit – gentrification and community

Class discussion on chosen research methods. Decide schedule for fieldwork.


Students write brief research plan justifying their chosen methods of observation, to be handed in in Week 7

Week 6

26 Feb


In class

DEADLINE: Students hand in  8-page literature summary

Discuss literature summary

Finalize research methods and start fieldwork

 Students begin fieldwork journal

Week 7

5 March


On site

Esquilino visit – migration and ethnic identities in the city

DEADLINE: Students hand in research method plan


Students continue  fieldwork journal


BREAK 11-17 March



Week 8

19 March

Individual meetings

Students carry out fieldwork research. Individual meetings with professor.


Students continue journal and prepare oral presentation on their findings and preliminary analysis.

Week 9

26 March

 In class

DEADLINE: Students do oral presentation on their findings and preliminary analysis. Receive feedback and decide outline of written/visual report.


Students complete any outstanding fieldwork research following class feedback

Week 10

2 April

On site

Corviale visit – poverty and territorial stigmatization


Week 11

9 April

 In class

Class discussion on writing up findings, integrating theory, methodology and results.


Students work on writing up full research project

Week 12

16 April

 Individual meetings

Individual meetings with students on development of research report


Students prepare oral presentations on full research project

Week 13

23 April

 On site

Jewish Quarter visit - segregation and gentrification.  


Week 14

30 April

In class 

DEADLINE: Students orally present their final project


Students use feedback on oral presentations to finalize written project

Exams Week

DEADLINE: Students hand in written version of final project and fieldwork journals