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COURSE NAME: "Rome: Modern City (On-site)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020

INSTRUCTOR: James Schwarten
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TH 9:00-12:00 PM

This on-site course, which will be conducted in English, aims to introduce students to a sociological analysis of contemporary Rome. It focuses on the changes which are occurring in the city’s populations, its neighborhoods and patterns of daily life and commerce, and challenges conventional images of what it is to be a Roman today. On-site classes will be held in a variety of neighborhoods in the city in order to analyze the area’s role as a social entity and its relationship with the wider urban context. We will examine the issues and problems facing Rome today, such as housing, degradation and renewal, environmental questions, transportation, multiculturalism, wealth and poverty, social conflict and political identities. These issues will be contextualized within theories of urban sociology and also within an explanation of Rome’s urban development over the centuries and, in particular, since it became the national capital in 1870. Through readings, film clips, interviews and guest speakers, students will also analyze the way the city is narrated by some of its residents.

On-site classes will be held in a variety of neighborhoods in the city in order to analyze each area’s status as a social entity and its relationship with the wider urban context. These will include teacher-guided group discussions and observational activities to refine students’ skills of sociological analysis. Lectures and readings will provide students with historical, topographical and sociological information about the area and will introduce relevant urban theories through which to interpret its particular issues. In-class debates will encourage students to question the applicability of theories to the realities observed on-site. Students will watch excerpts of films, read various literary texts and talk to residents of the city (in on-site interviews or with guest speakers) in order to analyze the different discourses through which the city is narrated. Students are expected to do their assigned readings punctually and to follow developments in Roman and Italian society by reading newspaper articles throughout the semester.

Students are strongly urged to familiarize themselves with the city's areas and public transportation system as soon as possible. Students are expected to be punctual for all class sessions and on-site visits. Please be advised that on-site classes require a good deal of walking and standing.

The assessment criteria listed below refer to all assessment methods in the course.


The research assignment makes up 35% of the course grade – 25% for the written paper and 10% for the oral presentation to the class. Students should choose a topic relevant to the course and write a (minimum) 1,500-word research paper using at least three academic sources (library books, academic web material and supplemented by recent newspaper articles where relevant). Non-academic internet material is not reliable and should be avoided. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of a source, please check with the instructor. All sources must be cited in the text and bibliography following APA style. Students should start researching their topic well in advance.

The oral presentations will take place before the final draft of the paper is due. Students will be required to give a 10-12 minute explanation of the topic of their research paper, its relevance to the course, the methods used to collect information, their main findings and conclusions and a brief discussion of the sources used. Classmates will be encouraged to ask questions and engage in debate/discussion in order to provide feedback prior to completing the final draft.


1. Demonstrate knowledge of the city’s urban development since 1870.

2. Demonstrate familiarity with the economic, political, social, religious, cultural and institutional diversity that characterizes the city of Rome today.

3. Describe individual neighborhoods and identify their key roles and relations with the broader urban context.

4. Identify the main sociological features of each neighborhood and, where problems and conflicts exist, propose solutions.

5. Demonstrate familiarity with major theories of urban sociology and apply them to the case-study neighborhoods in order to assess their validity and relevance for understanding the particular situation of Rome.

6. Analyze various cinematic, literary and interview discourses of the city by its residents.

7. Develop research skills by carrying out a paper project, based on high quality bibliographical research as well as some fieldwork techniques, if appropriate. The methods, instruments, and conclusions of the paper will form the basis of an in-class oral presentation.

Participation at mid termAssessed qualitatively and quantitatively. Includes such practices as actively participating in class debates/discussions, offering insightful comments, asking pertinent questions, punctuality for in-class and on-site sessions.5
Midterm Exam 25
Research PaperMinimum 1500-word research essay on a topic relevant to the course and with at least three academic sources.25
PresentationIn-class presentation of the research project.10
Final ExamThe Final Exam is cumulative.30
Participation at end of termAssessed qualitatively and quantitatively. Includes such practices as actively participating in class debates/discussions, offering insightful comments, asking pertinent questions, punctuality for in-class and on-site sessions.5

A 94–100 points = A / 90–93.99 = A- Work 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.
B 87–89.99 = B+ / 83–86.99 = B / 80–82.99 = B- This is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
C 77–79.99 = C+ / 70–76.99 = C This is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
D 60–69.99 = D This 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.
F 59.99–0 = F This work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance concerns arriving punctually, remaining in class for the duration of each lesson, participating actively and constructively, and refraining from using devices such as personal computers, cell phones, and tablets. The final grade will be reduced by 3% for each absence after the second.

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 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 miss an 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 the work that will be missed.

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.




WK 1

Course introduction, syllabus, goals and expectations. What is a city? Introduction to urban sociology; theoretical premises

WK 2

Rome's periphery

WK 3

Form and function of cities; analysis of urbanization of Rome from the 1870 to the present

WK 4


WK 5


WK 6


WK 7

5 November: Midterm Exam

WK 8 + Friday

Marginalization; discussion of best practices and expectations for research paper / Esquilino

WK 9

Research Presentations

WK 10

Research Paper due / Rome's Jewish Quarter

WK 11


WK 12

Sports identities / Course conclusions

 Final Exam date and time: TBA; exams are scheduled Dec 11-14

A detailed Syllabus and Schedule will be distributed on the first day of class. All readings will be provided.