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COURSE NAME: "Ancient Rome and Its Monuments"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Sophy Downes
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T 9:15 AM 12:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: On-site; activity fee: €40 or $52

Rome City Series - This on-site course considers the art and architecture of ancient Rome through visits to museums and archaeological sites. The course covers the visual culture and architecture of Rome beginning with the Iron Age and ending with the time of Constantine. A broad variety of issues are raised, including patronage, style and iconography, artistic and architectural techniques, Roman religion, business and entertainment.

The course engages students in diverse analyses of the city of ancient Rome by drawing on approaches that are artistic, historical and topographic in nature. Hence, it provides an in-depth appreciation of the multifaceted nature of Roman material culture and the context for the world in which it was created. 

Taking advantage of the on-site format emphasis is placed on the visual impact of monuments and artworks for a deeper understanding of their social meaning. The course examines the development of Rome and the importance of public monuments for the visualization of the city, and it analyses these as dynamic spaces of social interaction. 

It considers the urban and political articulation of Rome: the city as memory theatre; the interplay between emperor and citizens; the impact of empire. The course asks questions about public imaging, political engagement, and the perceived merits of peace and warfare for a nuanced examination of what it meant to be Roman.

The city’s topography, monuments and artworks are used as the primary sources for an examination of the historical and political development of the city, and of the social and cultural meaning of its visual culture. The course discusses the impact of the origins (c. 753 BC) and early history of Rome, but historically focuses on the period from c. 100 BC-AD 300, the late Republic and Empire.

Ability to analyze – and contextualize – characteristics of ancient Roman culture
Ability to understand key aspects of Roman art and to analyze motives of their creation and reception. Ability to identify trends and developmental aspects, as well as cross-cultural inspirations

Ability to analyze art, architecture and material culture as primary sources
Ability to interpret diverse artistic media and their impact, and ability to use relevant historical, art historical and architectural terminology to effect. Understanding of the context of public and private art and architecture – and the ability for comparative analyses of these

Ability to contextualize the construction of cultural identities and artistic developments
Ability to analyze material culture as dynamic interactions of inspiration, response and emulation – not simply imperialism or military control. Appreciation of diversity of directions of artistic inspiration. Ability to see the selectivity in adoption or rejection of forms 


Communicative skills – writing and oral competence
Term paper: Organization of material, focus on topic, and nuance in discussion
Exams: Contextual and nuanced discussion, focused presentation of data
Class presentations: Public speaking (presentation and development of argument) and didactic methods (engaging audience, posing questions)
Participation: Analytical responses; participating in debates; posing questions

Cognitive skills – critical thinking and interpretation
Class presentation: Evaluation and analysis of evidence; reflection on significance
Participation: Reasoned consideration of evidence and methods; willingness to adapt/revise ways of thinking; openness to alternative perspectives
Term paper and exams: Subtlety, nuance and engagement in approach to the topic
Lectures and class presentations: Visual analysis; historical contextualization; interpretative thesis

Collaborative and shared inquiry skills
Lectures and participation: Investigative response-skills; collaborative contributions; open debate
Class presentations: Test, explore and communicate complex ideas

Investigative skills and evaluation of data
Term paper and class presentations: Using and evaluating diverse secondary texts; interpreting the arguments presented
Lectures and participation: Evaluation of context and impact of objects and space 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
A History of Roman ArtStephen TuckWiley 9780199546831     
Rome: An Oxford Archaeological GuideAmanda ClaridgeOxford0192880039     

Class PresentationResearch presentation to class (10 minutes)10%
Term paperResearch paper (8-10 pages)25%
Mid-term examImage identifications and analytical essays25%
Final examImage identifications and analytical essays30%
Academic participationContribution to class discussions and reviews, sharing of ideas, collaborative behaviour10%

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 ____________

You are expected to participate in all scheduled classes. Absences will be noted and may affect your final grade. Please refer to the university catalogue for the attendance and absence policy. 

All classes will start punctually; late arrival will be noted and may affect your final grade. 
Class will take place no matter the weather. Please dress accordingly and appropriately for visiting public sites and museums in the city.

You are responsible for identifying the location of - and route to - the meeting points of the classes. You should calculate around 40-50 minutes travel time to our meeting points. Note that most classes will end at on-site locations different from the meeting point. For bus/subway route planner see www.atac.it. 

Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. 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.

Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam: a major exam (midterm or final) cannot be made up without the permission of the Dean’s Office. Permission will be granted only when the absence is caused by a serious impediment or grave situation, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or funeral service for immediate family. Absences due to conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. 

No recording (of any type) of the class is permitted.

Study guides to help you organise your notes and gain an overview of the material - and hence to assist you revise - will be posted weekly on Moodle.

Changes, additional course information, etc. will be posted on Moodle. Please check this regularly and, certainly, in advance of each class.
Make-up work is not offered, except in exceptional circumstances and after consultation with the Dean of Academic Affairs.

For specific inquiries or to set up an appointment please contact me via email on [email protected]
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.



1. Introduction to the Course, and to Rome.

 Meet: JCU classroom.

2. From Romulus to Caesar, the Roman Forum

Meet: Campidoglio (next to the statue of Marcus Aurelius)

3. The Republic – Triumphs and Temples

 Meet: Piazza Farnese.

4. Late Republic to Imperial Rome: Portraits and Painting

Meet: Entrance to Palazzo Massimo, Piazza dei Cinquecento.

5. Pax Augusta

Meet: Entrance to the Ara Pacis Museum.

6. Palaces, Nero and the Flavians

 Meet: Metro Colosseo. 

7. *Mid-term Exam* 

Meet: JCU classroom

8. The High Empire: Imperial Fora and the Campus Martius

Meet: Trajan’s column.

9. Emperors and Religion.

Meet: Statue of Marcus Aurelius on the Campidoglio.

10. The Forum from the Severans to Late Antiquity

 Meet: Entrance to the Roman Forum, Via dei Fori Imperiali. 

11. Ostia Myth and Sarcophagi

Meet: Metro Piramide

12. Myth and Sarcophagi

 Meet: Entrance to Palazzo d’Altemps.

13. Tetrarchs to Constantine: Re-using Rome

 Meet: Campidoglio.

14. Review Class                                            .

15. tba Final Exam