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COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in Modern and Contemporary Art: 19th-century Art in Rome"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Karen Georgi
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00 AM 11:15 AM
OFFICE HOURS: Mondays 11:15 -12:15

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of the art of the modern and contemporary world. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

In the long, influential history of art in Rome, the Nineteenth-Century is rarely included. In fact, apart from contributions to Neoclassicism and academic traditions, the century is usually excluded as the unrepresentative moment when the Eternal City apparently had nothing to offer. But was there really nothing going on in Rome in the 1800s? Or, was the art produced here so heterogenous, so distant from conventional art-historical narratives of Modernist development that it has been overlooked? Perhaps the lack of any overarching trajectory—Modernist or otherwise—the absence of a recognizable story that can link one movement to another has rendered the material uninteresting to art historians? Maybe it even appears unhistorical?

What might an art history without a story look like? How do the demands of narrative condition what gets defined as relevant, as historical? This course poses these questions as it surveys the surprisingly large and rich body of art produced in the Caput Mundi in the Nineteenth Century. Expatriate artists as well as Italians still filled the city, creating not only works of art, but highly visible art communities, must-see studio itineraries that no well-informed visitor missed, and major commissions for national monuments here and abroad. From the Napoleonic occupation to the Unification of Italy that made Rome the new capital, Rome drew artists and inspired avant-garde artistic movements as well as modern interpretations of tradition.

The course thus studies the heterogenous art production in the city, seeking to avoid the narratives that conventionally underlay the evaluation of Nineteenth-century art. Since much of the material that the course covers was influential in its time, the course asks why it has been forgotten. Period discourses will help address this question, as will careful attention to the paradigms that underlay modern interpretations—for instance antagonistic scenarios such as avant-garde vs tradition; or developmental paradigms such as the linear nature of stylistic change; or, relationships such as that of the avant-garde to political revolution—none of which fit very well with the art scene in Rome in the Nineteenth Century. In the subjects taken up by the course, there are frequently instructive instances where modern assumptions about style and about modernity will be brought out by the differences between period reception and modern understanding, as well as by apparent paradoxes today that embodied coherence then. And, throughout the century, references to the past remain, giving repeated opportunities to analyze the role of the past in the construction of modernity. 


Students will engage with a variety of Nineteenth-century movements, artists, artworks, monuments in Rome.

They will develop skills for visually analyzing and recognizing forms and competently assessing stylistic differences with an understanding of how such styles communicated historically.

They will debate ideas about the discipline’s own practices for categorizing, evaluating, periodizing, and ultimately narrating histories of objects.  

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments

reading summaries and participation in class discussion3-4 short summaries of assigned readings will be due throughout the semester. Readings will be discussed in class, where participation will be part of this grade20
Midterm exam Short esssay exam, based on images and readings30
Term paper 10-page paper, with short bibliography. The paper will not be an open-ended research paper. Instead a very specific question will be given to students as a prompt15
Final exam Short essay exam, based on images, and with an essay designed to test knowledge of assigned readings35

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.

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of the art of the modern and contemporary world. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.
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.


Course schedule will be distributed in class. Topics include the following:

Napoleonic commissions at the Quirinale

The Nazarenes: German Romantics in Rome

San Paolo Fuori Le Mura: Rebuilt by the Restored Papacy

Neoclassical Sculpture

The "White Marmorean Flock"

The Macchiaioli and their Roman Friends

The Stones of Venice and the Marbles of Rome: Archeology and Ruskin's Disciple in Rome

St. Paul's Within the Walls: English Art for an American Church in Rome

The Regulatory Plans of 1873 and 1883: Urban development for the new capital

Ettore Roesler-Franz and "Roma Sparita"

Gabriele D'Annunzio's Circle: The Cronaca Bizantina and Galleria Sciarra

Nino Costa and the "Scuola Etrusca"

In Arte Libertas

Unloved Monuments: The Vittoriano and the Palazzo di Giustizia

Aristide Sartorio and the decoration of the Camera dei Deputati