JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Cities, Towns & Villas: Rome, Ostia, Pompeii"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Sophy Downes
EMAIL: sdownes@johncabot.edu
HOURS: W 9:15-12:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: On-site; mandatory trip; activity fee: €40 or $52

Rome, Ostia and Pompeii are three of the best- preserved archaeological sites in the world. Through their study, we are able to comprehend the physical and social nature of Roman cities and how they transformed over the course of centuries. We explore the subjects of urban development, public and private buildings, economic and social history, and art incorporated into urban features (houses, triumphal monuments, etc.). In Rome, we focus primarily upon public buildings commissioned by Senators and Emperors: temples, law courts, theaters, triumphal monuments, baths. In Ostia, the port-city of Rome, we are able to experience many aspects of daily life: commerce, housing, religion, entertainment. Pompeii represents a well-to-do Republican and early Imperial period city that was influenced by the Greeks and Romans and preserves some of the most magnificent frescoes in the world.

The course is an introduction to urban living in the ancient world that will provide students with an appreciation of the multifaceted character of urban spaces, monuments and artworks in their historical context. The course will investigate three diverse urban centers in order to consider their particular characteristics and developments, as well as their place in a composite and vast empire. In particular, it will explore urban living as a stage for social relationships and civic status, and consider the importance of public patronage. Investigations of the agency of individuals and cities in the cultural discourse of Roman identity will form the framework for the course. These include: civic and domestic space as areas for the performance of status and social exchange; gift giving and benefaction as political currency and engagement; and cultural interaction as a dynamic relationship, not the least across a vast and cosmopolitan empire. Classes are taught entirely on site at archaeological sites and in museums in a first-hand encounter with the monuments, spaces and artworks discussed. Historically it focuses primarily on the period from c. 100 BC-AD 300, the late Republic and Empire.



Ability to analyze – and contextualize – characteristics of ancient cultures over time
Ability to identify trends and long-term developmental aspects, as well as to follow the complex reasoning inherent in their particular discourses
Awareness of cultural individuality and cross-cultural inspirations – within and between cultural and social groups

Ability to analyze art, architecture and material culture as primary sources
Familiarity with relevant historical, art historical and architectural terminology and ability to deploy these with precision and to effect
Understanding of the context of public and private art and architecture – and the ability for comparative analyses of these as expressions of culture and acculturation

Ability to articulate interests and developments as affected by cultural factors
Awareness of avenues of engagement with new forms and the motivations for doing so among diverse social groupings and communities
Appreciation of directions of artistic inspiration – and of the expression of provincial and non-elite participation in a dominant culture

Ability to analyze the construction and articulation of cultural identities
Ability for analyzing material culture as dynamic interactions of inspiration, response and emulation – not simply imperialism or control
Awareness of how the image of cultural identity is changeable and shaped by a perception of ‘self’ and sense of position within a wider world


Communicative skills – writing and oral competence
Term paper: Skills of organization of material, focus on topic, and nuance in discussion 
Exams: Aptitudes for contextualization and nuanced discussion of works, as well as for focused presentation of data 
Class presentations: Skills of public speaking (presentation of material, development of argument, illustration of evidence) and didactic methods (engaging audience through description, posing questions, responding to answers) 
Participation: Skills of formulating reviews and analytical responses; participating in debates; posing questions 

Cognitive skills – critical thinking and interpretation
Class presentation: Skills of evaluation and consideration of evidence; analysis of information gathered from observation; and skillful reflection on significance
Participation: Skills of reasoned consideration of evidence and methods; willingness to adapt/revise ways of thinking; and openness to alternative perspectives
Term paper and exams: Development of subtlety, nuance and engagement in the approach to the topic at hand 
Lectures and class presentations: Adeptness at contextualization and interpretation of objects, including observations on cultural norms that inform them 

Collaborative and shared inquiry skills
Lectures and participation: Development of investigative response-skills; collaborative contributions; and open debate – ability to test, explore and communicate complex ideas
Class presentations: Skills of thoughtful dialogue; sharing of observations; and active contribution to an academic milieu

Investigative skills and evaluation of data
Term paper and class presentations: Skills of using and evaluating secondary texts of diverse focus, specialism and target audience; as well as of interpreting both the inherent interests of these and the arguments presented
Lectures and participation: Skills of evaluation of context, impact and patronage of objects and spaces

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Rome: an Oxford Archaeological GuideAmanda Claridge Oxford University Press9780199546831 2010 edition onwards
A History of Roman ArtSteven L. TuckJohn Wiley and Sons9781444330267  

Academic participation Discussion and exchange of ideas based on reading of material covered and of new material under investigation10%
Class presentationResearch presentation to class (10 mins)10%
Mid-term examImage identifications and analytical essays25%
Term paperResearch paper (8-10 pages)25%
Final examImage identifications and analytical essays30%

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 May 10.
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.



*Fri. 22nd March          Pompeii: Civic identity, the Roman house
Meet:                                                Piazza Trilussa – 6.50 am

* Sun. 31st March         Ostia – Rome’s Port and Roman Houses 
Meet:                                                Ostiense train station (next to Metro stop “Piramide”) - 9.00 am

1. Wed. Jan. 23             Introduction to the Course, and to Rome.
Meet:                                                 JCU classroom.

2. Wed. Jan. 30.             From Romulus to Caesar, the Roman Forum
Meet:                                                 Campidoglio (next to the statue of Marcus Aurelius)

3. Wed. Feb. 6              The Republic – Triumphs and Temples
Meet:                                                 Piazza Farnese.

4. Wed. Feb. 13              Late Republic to Imperial Rome: Portraits and Painting
Meet:                                                 Entrance to Palazzo Massimo, Piazza dei Cinquecento.

5. Wed. Feb. 20             Pax Augusta
Meet:                                                 Entrance to the Ara Pacis Museum.

Wed. Feb. 27               No class (used for Pompeii trip)

6. Wed. March. 6            *Mid-term Exam* and Discussion of Term Paper
Meet:                                                 JCU classroom - 8.30 am

Fri. March 8             No class (used for Pompeii trip) – would otherwise be a make up class for May 1

Wed. March. 13             SPRING BREAK

7. Wed. March. 20         Palaces, Nero and the Flavians
Meet:                                                 Metro Colosseo.

8. Wed. March. 27     The High Empire: Imperial Fora and the Campus Martius
Meet:                                                 Trajan’s column.

9. Wed. April. 3           Tetrarchs to Constantine: Re-using Rome 
Meet:                                                 Metro Colosseo.

Wed. April. 10              No class (used for Ostia trip)

Wed. April. 17               No class (used for Ostia trip)
*Term Paper due*

14. Wed. April. 24        Baths and Bathing and Review Class                                      
Meet:                                     Metro Circo Massimo.

Wed. May 1                   No class (public holiday)

11. May 6-10              *Final Exam*
Meet:                                                 JCU classroom - 8.30 am