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COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in Art History: Understanding Architecture"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Ingrid Rowland
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W 2:15-5:05 PM

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of concern in the field of Art History. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

Classes include both lectures and on-site visits, sometimes with special permissions. Be prepared to walk.


CLASS GOALS: Students should be able to:

Recognize architecture from Rome’s different historical periods

Evaluate the success of individual buildings, both practical and aesthetic, in their own era and in ours.               

Construct a persuasive argument based on the logical use of evidence and present it in clear language.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Bernini is Dead? Architecture and the Social PurposeJohn BurchardTBA...  

Class participation (that means not just showing up, but being engaged in the conversation) 20%
1 single page essay + 4 short essays, 4 pages= 1000-1200 words 60%
Final research paper, 7 pages=1500 words 20%

AGrade: A successful paper constructs a persuasive argument based on the logical use of evidence, and presents it in clear language. A paper that performs all these tasks outstandingly, with extensive research—NOT Wikipedia and not simply short online sources, but BOOKS and JSTOR--, clear analysis, and good writing, receives an A: a reader thinks, “Great!”
BA paper that performs all these tasks well, but less well than some of the other papers in the class, receives a B: a reader thinks, “Good!”
CA paper that performs these tasks at a bare minimum, using Wikipedia, receives a C: a reader thinks, “OK.” And thinks you’re not working very hard.
DA paper that lacks research, analysis, and clarity gets a D: a reader thinks, “Ouch!”
FA paper that makes no visible effort gets an F. So does a non-paper.

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.


Week 1 Lecture: What makes a good building? Ways to look at and represent architecture: plan, elevation, axonometric view.  Construction; roofing systems. 


Then we’ll go look at a modern building I like very much: the Ostiense Post Office.  (I also like the copper beeches that are part of the landscaping). We may throw in the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius and Ostiense Fire Station.


Read: Vitruvius Book I

Write a 1-page description of a building that you like in Rome.



Week 2 Lecture: Columns, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, Composite, and Creative; Light, Space, and Roman concrete. 

Then a quick site visit: Santa Maria in Trastevere and San Crisogono, for porphyry columns! 


Read: Vitruvius, Books III and IV (excerpts)


Week 3 Lecture: Greek, Etruscan, and Roman architecture.

Then a quick visit to the Forum Boarium to see the temples of Hercules Olearius (Greek) and Portunus (Etrusco-Roman)


Read: Vitruvius on the Basilica at Fano; Leon Battista Alberti, De Re Aedificatoria, excerpts on temples and churches.

Write 1000 words on an ancient building that you like.


Week 4 From Temples to Churches

            Site visit: San Clemente.  Meet at San Clemente.


Read: Palladio’s Rome, excerpts

Prepared handout on Palazzo Architecture

Prepare a report for next time on a Renaissance Palazzo, to be followed by a 1000-word paper.



Week 5 Meet in Piazza Farnese for a tour of Renaissance Rome focused on palazzi: fifteenth-century cube buildings, Palazzetto Turci, Palazzo Torres, Palazzo Alberini, Palazzo Caprini, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Baldassini, Palazzo Cadilhac, Palazzo Maccarani, etc.


Read: Rowland, The Roman Garden of Agostino Chigi

Paolo Portoghesi, Renaissance Rome, excerpts, looking especially at his descriptions of palazzi



Week 6 Lecture: City and Country

            Site visit: Site visit: Villa Farnesina.  Meet at Villa Farnesina.


Read: John Burchard, Bernini Is Dead? Chapter 8.

Write a 1000-word critique of Burchard’s chapter—do you agree or disagree and why?  Please note: there is no “right” answer to this, so say what you really feel!



Week 7 Lecture: Baroque Architecture

Site visit : Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Meet by the Horse Tamers at Piazza del Quirinale.


Read: Burchard, Bernini is Dead? Chapter 9

Paper: Compare San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane with Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale. 1000 words.



Week 8 Entering the Modern World.  Neoclassicism, 18C Baroque, 19C Eclecticism, the Grand Tour, the Buona Borghesia


Read: Matilde Serao, “Cecchina’s Virtue”

Henry James, “Daisy Miller”

Edith Wharton, “Roman Fever”

Heather Hyde Minor, Piranesi’s Lost Words, excerpts

Terry Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Chapter 1.


Week 9  Site visit: Trevi Fountain, Galleria Sciarra, San Silvestro Post Office, Teatro Quirino, Birreria Peroni. Meet in Piazza SS. Apostoli.


Week 10 Fascism: Visit to Piazza Augusto Imperatore and Ara Pacis


Read: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Why Are So Many Fascist Monuments Still Standing in Italy?” The New Yorker, October 5, 2017

Terry Kirk, "Framing St. Peter's: Urban Planning in Fascist Rome ," The Art Bulletin 88.4 (2006).

Terry Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Chapter 6.

Write an analysis of the Ostiense Post Office



Week 11 Lecture: The Machine Age, Mass Housing, and Urban Sprawl

Read: Terry Kirk, The Architecture of Modern Italy, Chapters 7-8


Week 12 Architecture for the working class: visit to Quartiere San Giovanni, tram ride to Centocelle and Richard Meier Church of the Millennium at Tor Tre Teste.


Read: Burchard, Bernini is Dead?, Chapter 12


Week 13 Public Works: San Michele, Regina Coeli, Prigioni Nuove. 


Submit an outline for your final paper.


Week 14 Discussion: What makes a good building?

            Site visit: Bramante’s Tempietto. 


Week 15 – Final Paper Due on a topic of your choice: 1500 words