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The Changing Faces of a Capital: Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in Imperial, Papal, and Contemporary Rome

Instructor: Dr. Cristiana Filippini [see profile]
Disciplines: Urban Studies, Art History, Architecture

Contemporary Rome—capital of a modern republic—is the complex result of a centuries-long history. In ancient times capital of an empire and then the center of Christianity, Rome has been continuously re-planned, following its different functions, and enriched with monuments and works of art. First ancient Roman emperors, later popes and cardinals have built monuments and commissioned works of art that have shaped the Eternal City. The contemporary city daily confronts its momentous past.

The course will survey the changing faces of Rome from antiquity to contemporary times, with on-site examination of Roman masterpieces of painting, sculpture, architecture, and urbanism and careful attention to their specific historical contexts and interrelated meanings. The evolving urbanism of the city and the development of an architectural vocabulary, of codes of representation and self-representation, of visual narrative strategies, and the survival of the classical tradition will be the focus of the course. It will especially investigate how this long architectural and artistic tradition reflects on contemporary art and architecture, and, more generally, on the life of the city.


  • a paper (6 pages)
  • a mid-term exam
  • a final exam