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COURSE NAME: "Modern Rome and Its Monuments "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Laura Foster
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T 9:15-12:00 PM

Rome City Series - This on-site course focuses on the vast transformations in the architecture and urban development of Rome 1870-1945, when the status of the city changed from papal capital to capital of Italy as a nation-state. The course offers a view of the city that includes both grand public buildings – like the huge Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II at Piazza Venezia, and the Fascist-era buildings of the EUR district – and investigation of particular urban characteristics. It will consider aspects like Rome’s experiments in social housing, the development of elite residential districts, the revelation of ancient monuments along wide new avenues of the Fascist era, as well as contemporary architectural additions to the city’s monuments.
After an introduction to the methods of reading architecture and urban form, we will walk through specific neighborhoods to observe the new attitude toward Rome in the attempt to distance the association of the city with the papacy. Wide boulevards, elegant city villas, and new spaces of commerce and leisure characterize Rome under the Liberal State. The city was rapidly transformed after 1925 according to a new political and architectural program overseen largely by Benito Mussolini himself. We will analyze the stark contrast between Rome as the capital of the Liberal State and that under Fascism, which introduced modernism in architectural design to the city. While reworking the urban fabric, Mussolini also made use of ancient monuments as part of a theatrical display of imperial power. The last lectures explore the possibilities for architecture in the post-World War II era, a time of critical response to the changes that had occurred just decades before.

•Broad familiarity with classicism in architectural design and the development of modern architecture, and the ability to employ stylistic and technical terminology in describing individual works.

•An understanding of patterns of modern urban development and the special challenges presented by a city with history spanning three millennia.

•An ability to identify Rome’s layers of development, distinguishing between different historical periods.

•Knowledge of the connection of Italy’s political history to the appearance of Rome through readings and lectures.

•The competence to engage in a sophisticated discussion of architecture on the formal level of design and the contextual level of historical analysis.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 1Terry KirkPrinceton Architectural Press9781568986319 Available as an e-book
The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2Terry KirkPrinceton Architectural Press9781568986326 Available as an e-book
Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist RomePaul BaxaUniversity of Toronto Press9781442697379  Available as an e-book
Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's ItalySimonetta Falasca-ZamponiUniversity of California Press9780520926158 Available as an e-book

Class Participation and AttendanceThis site class meets only once per week and is almost entirely on site; therefore, attendance is essential. The lectures are not composed simply of a tour of monuments, but will involve complex analysis at the monuments themselves. In order to grasp the concepts presented in course readings and handouts, 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.10%
On-site exercises in observation and understanding architectural design Observation and understanding of architecture and urban form: Writing exercises and group project (3 papers worth 5%, 10% and 15%) The exercises will consist of note taking and observation on site to hone knowledge of architectural terminology and urban form. For the first two exercises, students will be provided with a series of questions to which they will respond in writing while observing monuments and urban spaces. These notes will then be transformed into an analytical essay of approximately 2 pages. For the final exercise, the entire class will be involved in dissecting the history and urban form of a specific site: Piazza Augusto Imperatore. Working in small groups, students will present the class with the history of a specific historical moment in which the area was transformed. See the course schedule for due dates of the individual exercises. 30%
Midterm ExaminationThrough short answer questions, image identifications and an essay question, students will demonstrate an understanding of architectural terminology, styles, the period of urban history covered in the first half of the semester and the specific monuments seen during the lectures.20%
Comparative EssayThe objective of this written assignment of 5-6 pages is to bring together material studied during this course by comparing architectural monuments constructed during the two distinct political periods we have covered. Students will apply skills of direct observation of architectural design and understanding of urban development in order to analyze the strategies of representation used by architects and patrons in the period between 1870 and 1943. The paper will include visual descriptions of the two buildings or urban spaces, an explanation of their function, and analysis of their specific location in Rome. While not technically a research paper, students will be expected to include proper bibliographic source material. 25%
Final ExaminationThe format for the final exam will be similar to the midterm, with emphasis on material from the second half of the semester. 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.

Please see the statement above regarding attendance in the section on assignments.
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.





meeting place

reading assignment

tests, papers, special instructions

Jan 22

Rome as idea: The concept of the capital in the 19th century




Jan 29

Reading architecture and urban form: The Tiber River and Lungotevere Avenues


•Barry Bergdoll, European Architecture, 1750-1890, Ch. 5 pp. 139-145 and Ch. 8

Always complete readings before class meeting

Feb 5

Roma Alta: Urban expansion on the Esquiline and Quirinal Hills

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

•Bergdoll, European Architecture, Ch. 7

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 1, pp. 185-195; 219-30

Have bus tickets on hand for travel on subway

Feb 12

Remaking the urban image of the historic center

Piazza del Popolo, at the center around the obelisk

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 1, pp. 231-259

In-class exercise with paper instructions distributed

Feb 19

The 1911 International Exhibition and Its Urban Effects

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2, pp. 15-26; 43-57

1st Paper due by 5:00 p.m. uploaded to Moodle

Feb 26

The meaning of modernity in Rome of the Belle Époque

Piazza Buenos Aires in front of church

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2, Ch. 5 pp. 28-34

•Etlin, Modernism in Italian Architecture, Ch. 4 pp. 101-128


Mar 5




Class meets at 8:45. Exam will last 1 hr 30 mins, followed by library lecture

Mar 19

From Garden City to Urban Exile: The development of Quartiere Garbatella

Exit of Metro B Garbatella stop

•Paul Baxa, Roads and Ruins, Ch. 2

•Etlin, Modernism in Italian Architecture, Ch. 5, pp. 129-164

In-class exercise with 2nd paper instructions

Mar 26

Disembowelment and purification: Archeological excavation and urban displacement

Piazza di Torre Argentina, near medieval tower

•Baxa, Roads and Ruins, Chs. 3, 4, 5


Apr 2

A Forum for Mussolini: Foro Italico & Palazzo del Littorio

Piazza Maresciallo Giardino in front of obelisk with “Mussolini” inscribed on it

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2, Ch. 6 pp. 128-132


•Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle, Ch. 3


Apr 9

Tensions between modernism and classicism: The development of Stile littorio

Viale Trastevere in front of the Ministry for Public Instruction

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2, Ch. 6 pp. 95-108

•Baxa, Roads and Ruins, Ch. 7


Apr 16

Fascism as permanent exhibition: E42 (the EUR district)

At the exit of Metro B Magliana stop

•Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Vol. 2, Ch. 6 pp. 133-141

•Etlin, Modernism in Italian Architecture, Ch. 13 pp. 481-516


Apr 23

Possibilities for architecture in postwar Rome: From the 1960 Olympics to the 2000 Jubilee

Parking lot of Palazzetto dello Sport, via de Coubertin


Class starts at 10:00 a.m.

Apr 30

Group Project: Reading Piazza Augusto Imperatore, from antiquity to the present

In front of the Ara Pacis museum


Student presentations; write-up of presentation to be uploaded to Moodle

Date, time and location of the final examination TBA