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

INSTRUCTOR: Sharon Salvadori
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00 AM 11:15 AM

Rome City Series - An upper-level survey of Roman urbanism, as well as developments in figural media and architecture, from the 4th to the 14th century. While the course will naturally emphasize the abundant religious art remaining in the city, it will also examine such secular achievements as towers, housing, defenses, and roads.

This is an upper level survey on the art, architecture and topography of late-antique and medieval Rome. The aim of the course is to provide an in-depth familiarity and appreciation of the multifaceted nature of the city in these transformative and dynamic historical periods. The architecture and decorative features- wall paintings, icons, mosaics, and sculpture- of sites such as the catacombs and of individual monuments such as basilicas are the “primary sources” for an examination of the religious, political, and social functions and meanings of the built environment and visual culture of the city. Most classes meet on campus, but three meetings will be on-site, allowing for first-hand study of key artworks extant in the city. 

Because a primary focus of the course is the development of Rome into the capital of Western Medieval Christendom, the course begins with an examination of images from the mid- to late-third century AD, when the first significant body of Old and New Testament imagery develops in Rome under primarily Christian patronage. The chronological end point is the first decade of the 14th century, which witnessed the move (or “exile”) of the pope and his court from Rome to the French city of Avignon, essentially ending an era in the history of the city. 

While the Church in its many forms- from the papal court to convents to neighborhood parishes- was the most powerful political, social and economic institution in Rome during the 1000-year span we will be examining, many members of the secular elite- often belonging to the same families that staffed the papal court- also exerted a strong visual and cultural impact on city whether as patrons or as key designated viewers. Moreover, the city always retained a form of civic government whose office-holders were in charge with the all-important urban infrastructure (roads, walls, aqueducts, sanitation, etc.)  A second focus of the course is, therefore, an examination of the interplay between the religious (popes, priests, deacons, nuns, monks, etc.) and the lay inhabitants of Rome, if often through the filter of the mostly religious surviving evidence. 

Last but not least, medieval Rome may not be properly understood without examining how the city dealt with its Classical past. As the city “reshaped” itself between Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the topographical, monumental and artistic legacy of Ancient Rome was ever present and was preserved as a source of civic pride, transformed or repurposed, or left to decay, but never erased.


Ø  understanding of key aspects of urban layout and spatial organization in Medieval Rome

Ø understanding of key structural, functional and stylistic aspects of Roman Medieval art and architecture

Ø ability to analyze and interpret the urban topography and development of Medieval Rome and, more specifically, the motives in the creation, use and reception of areas, neighborhoods, monuments and artworks in their original (medieval) political, religious, and social contexts

Ø skills for the critical analysis of urban topography and visual culture generally

Ø familiarity with different methods of art historical analysis and terminology and the ability to deploy them successfully

Ø  ability to apply critical thinking and analysis generally

Ø  ability to select and organize material to produce a coherent and cogent argument both orally and in writing- and to do so to so respecting deadlines.

Ø  ability to exchange ideas and engage in discussion with peers

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Rome. Profile of a City, 312-1308Richard KrautheimerPrinceton U Pressxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Ebook  

ParticipationIn addition to attendance, active class participation is expected of all students. Participating effectively entails completing and taking notes on all "Required Reading" (listed in the Course Schedule), before class so that during class you can effectively engage: prepared to ask and answer questions and to share any pertinent observations. Although participation is only 5% of the course grade it could ensure an A rather than an A- as your final grade. Remember too that the more you engage, the more interesting and fun the class will be not only for you but also for everyone else (prof. included). 5
QuizzesPart of your preparation in the course of the semester will be evaluated through 6 quizzes based on the "Required Reading" and in-class lectures. The quiz with the lowest score will be excluded from the final tally. That means that each of the remaining 5 quizzes is worth 4% of your course grade. Please be aware that if you miss a quiz -for any reason, including illness- you will not be able to make it up (it will be the one not tallied). All the quizzes will be on material we have previously discussed in class (=review quizzes). They are designed to assess your knowledge of key facts concerning representative monuments and artworks and your ability to critically interpret their historical significance. Each quiz will consist in one or more questions on specific areas, monument or object types, individual monuments or artworks or sets of monuments or artworks. You may be asked the name of an area, monument, building or artwork, as well as its location, date, function and/or patronage; you may also be asked to describe it (structural and decorative components, materials used, style, iconography, etc.); or you may be asked to a question on some aspect of its significance (e.g. the intended meaning- political, religious, social, aesthetic- of the iconography of a given church apse mosaic) . Depending on the number and nature of the questions, you will be given anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes to answer. The dates and topics of the quizzes are listed in the Course Schedule. 20
Visual AnalysisThe assignment is intended to develop your skills in observation, critical interpretation and evaluation, as well as presentation/articulation (developing the ability to express in a clear, concise and effective manner is as important as content…content without form undermines content itself). Length: 1500 words, exclusive of footnotes, bibliography and supporting images The analysis must include: • a descriptive account of the monument/artwork: date, location in Rome, medium, size, technique, and iconographic (=subject / content), formal (= analysis of form), and stylistic analysis (= how form is rendered) - 50% of total • a historically informed contextual and interpretative discussion (function, patronage, intended and received meaning, impact, associations, etc., as relevant or known- 50% of total You must clearly demonstrate that: 1. you have read and understood the Required Reading listed on your syllabus for your topic/ period/medium (this will vary, but it will always include the historical period; see also the Additional Visual Analysis Guidelines) 2. you have read and understood at least 2 additional academic sources on your topic. The most obvious (and easiest) option is to choose relevant publications from the "Suggested Reading" listed in the Course Schedule; but other pertinent books and periodicals in the Course Bibliography and the library may also be used. The analysis must include 1. Proof of having seen the art work first-hand (=in person): this may consist in a dated ticket of a site or museum or of a dated photograph before the art work or monument; in either case it must be attached to the paper. Obviously, no proof is necessary if we saw the artwork or monument together as a class. 2. Two or more sketches of the art work or monument being analyzed. The sketches are to be turned in with the paper but will not be evaluated in terms of the quality of your draftsmanship: even if you think you cannot draw, sketching greatly aids seeing (which is far more than simply looking!) and this is the point of the exercise, as hopefully you will discover when you come to your written description. Barring any official prohibition, you must sketch on-site - so make sure to bring paper and pencil with you. The sketches are in addition to the 1500 word-count (obviously). 3. One or more photographic reproductions of the art work 4. Proper citations of relevant literature. Please note that but there is no required format for citations; what is required is consistency that is, pick one format and stick to it (see also the additional Visual Analysis Guidelines) 5. a Bibliography of: A. relevant titles from the "Required reading" from the Course Schedule B. The two (or more) additional titles (see 2 above in "You must clearly demonstrate") *Additional Visual Analysis Guidelines, including suggested topics are posted on Moodle. You are required to read these guidelines carefully by Class 4, when we will review them together. 15
Term PaperThe Term paper is intended to develop skills of independent research, ability to evaluate and interpret materials and their inherent interests, and capability for discussing these in a nuanced manner in writing. It must combine iconographic, formal and stylistic analyses and an historically informed contextual and interpretative analysis. In other words, a formal essay that demonstrates the skills that you have developed and/or honed during the semester. The assignment has two parts: 1. a paper Abstract and Annotated Bibliography (15% of paper grade). The abstract should be 100 words (max). It is essentially a thesis statement, but it must mention what works you will be focusing on -no less than 2 no more than 4. The abstract must be accompanied by reproductions of the artworks you will be focusing on. The annotated bibliography must contain a minimum of 5 titles- 150 words per title- publication title excluded from word count. Each publication must be briefly summarized and its relevance to your paper explained. (See also Additional Paper Guidelines posted on Moodle) 2. the Term Paper itself (85% of paper grade) which must be 3000 words, exclusive of footnotes, bibliography, and (obviously) images. The paper must include a complete bibliography of primary and secondary sources used and all references must be fully cited in the paper itself. Supporting images are also required (no less than 4). Please note that it is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to structure your term paper around the topic of your Visual Analysis (e.g. including the same monument or artwork, same historical period, same or similar viewing context, similar iconography, etc.) *Early Abstracts, Annotated Bibliography and Term Papers welcome. Late assignments not accepted. Outlines or drafts are optional but must be turned in at least 2 weeks prior to the due dates; similarly, if you have questions on content and bibliography set up an appointment with me at least 2 weeks prior to the due date. For minor questions on bibliography, format, paraphrasing, quoting primary and secondary sources or methods of citation set up an appointment with me at least one week prior to the due date. *Additional Paper Guidelines, including suggested topics are posted on Moodle. You are required to read these guidelines carefully by Class 4 when we will review them together. 25
ExamsThe exams are designed to assess your knowledge of essential facts about areas, neighborhoods, monuments, artworks in Late Antique and Medieval Rome and your ability to critically interpret and assess their significance in their original historical context (that is more or less at the time they were built, rebuilt, decorated, restored and/ or repurposed). Both exam consists in series of comparisons, 15 minutes each (4 comparisons for the mid-term and 6 for the final). One or more images of two sites or monuments will be shown to you. You must first identify each one: name, typology, date, media, key structural and formal elements, (original) location, function, patronage must be specified as known or relevant. E.g. the Aurelian wall does not have a subject, but the apse mosaic in Santi Cosma e Damino does; a church may have a “basilican plan,” but how that plan is articulated (with one or two aisles, with or without a transept, with or without chapels, etc.) may vary; a representation of the Virgin Mary is just that, but how she is specifically represented (in a sequence of narrative images, as an icon, in regal garb, standing or sitting with the Christ child, with angels and saints on either side, etc.) and where (in an apse, on the altar, in a chapel, etc.) may vary and all must be specified and described- however briefly. Secondly (and most importantly) you must consider the two artworks or monuments in relation to one another, i.e. discuss significant similarities and differences. These are often thematic elements and meaning in historical context (patronage, intended message/s etc.), rather than media or structural components. Mid. term 15, Final 20

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.


Attendance is required, but  not graded. All scheduled classes are mandatory. Roll will be taken at the beginning of each class (i.e. you must also be on time!) Lectures and on-site visits do more than simply complement required reading assignments so being absent inevitably results in extra work to catch up. Typically, missing 4 or more classes results in poor performance, if not a failing grade.  Please also be aware that missing classes may entail missing quizzes, which may not be made up. 

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.



N.B. The class normally meets on campus. However, it also includes two mandatory Saturday on-site sessions (dates TBA) and one two on-site sessions in Trastevere during regularly scheduled class time to allow for a first-hand study of important examples of extant art and architecture.


1. Introduction to course

Ø  content overview

Ø  methodology

Ø  requirements

Ø   logistics


2. Late Antique Rome: political, social and religious identities in the 3rd and 4th centuries (overview)

Required reading: Krautheimer (1980/ 2000): Ch. 1


3. Catacomb paintings and sarcophagi: 3rd and 4th centuries

Required reading: Fiocchi Nicolai et al. (2002): Ch. 2: art in Roman catacombs (by F. Bisconti)


4. Fourth century funerary basilicas and the cult of saints (Old St. Peter's, etc.)

Required reading: Brandenburg (2005), Ch. 3, 55-103: ambulatory basilicas in 4 c. and Old St. Peter's


5. Rome inside and outside the walls I: 4th-early 5th c. basilicas and their decoration

Required reading: Brandenburg (2005), Ch. 2: Lateran, Ch. 3, 103-107: S. Croce in Gerusalemme, p. 133: intro. to post-Constantian church building, Ch. 6: St. Paul outside the walls, and pp. 137-142: S. Pudenziana; Krautheimer (1980/ 2000): pp. 21-24: Lateran and S. Croce in Gerusalemme; Mathews (1993), Ch. 4: early Christian monumental decoration


6. Rome inside the walls: 5th c. churches and their decoration; late antique reliquaries and luxury objects

Required reading: Brandenburg (2005): pp. 155-162: Sts. John and Paul, pp. 167-189: S. Sabina and S. Maria Maggiore, 199-213: S. Stefano Rotondo; Krautheimer (1980/ 2000): Ch. 2: late 4-5 c. Rome


7. and 8. ON SITE CLASS 1: Monuments of the late 4th-5th c.: S. Paolo, flm, S. Pudenziana, S. M. Maggiore, and Santa Sabina. Please note this will take place on a Saturday from c. 8 AM to c. 1 PM


9. Rome between Old and New and East and West in the early Middle Ages: 6th-8th c. basilicas and their decoration

Required reading: Krautheimer (1980/ 2000): Ch. 3 and 4: 6th to early 8th c. Rome


10. Rome between Old and New and East and West in the early Middle Ages, cont.

Required reading: Brandenburg (2005): 222-234: SS. Cosma e Damiano, S. Maria Antiqua, S. Adriano, S. Maria Rotonda, 236-24: S. Lorenzo, flm and Sant’Agnese, flm;


11. "Carolingian" Rome: late 8th to early 9th c.: basilicas and their decoration; reliquaries

Required Reading: Krautheimer (1980/2000), Ch. 5: Carolingian Rome


12. "Carolingian" Rome: late 8th to early 9th c., cont.

Required reading: Goodson (2006): the Carolingian “Renaissance” and S. Prassede; Bolgia (2006) Mosaics at S. Marco


13 and 14. ON SITE CLASS 2: Monuments of the early Middle Age: SS. Cosmas and Damian, Santa Maria Antiqua, Santa Prassede, San Marco. Please note this will take place on a Saturday from c. 9 AM to c. 1 PM






17. Dark or Bright Ages in the central Middle Ages: monuments from the late 9th century to mid to the 11th century

Required reading: Krautheimer (1980/2000), Ch. 6; Coates-Stephens (1997): Dark Age Architecture in Rome


18. Lay and Religious Patronage in late eleventh century Rome: San Clemente

Required Reading: Filippini (2004): San Clemente iconography and function paintings late 11th c.