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Reading Rome : Syllabus
Introduction Objectives Instructors Textbook Requirements

“All roads lead to Rome.”

This venerable maxim guides our survey of Rome from classical to modern authors.  This course is a prerequisite for Writing Rome, a study tour of the Eternal City slated for May-June 2011.


In Reading Rome, students will explore the construction of Rome, not only the geographical layout, layering, and growth of the city over time, but also the reception of the city in the texts of ancient and modern authors.

Every text about Rome — including stories of its foundation, praise of its buildings and monuments, and laments by those forced to leave it — creates a new Rome, which replicates, reimagines or even replaces the actual city.  The intersection of physical and textual space, and the many Romes that abide there, is the subject of this course.


Students of Reading Rome will

-- understand the layout of ancient and modern Rome, including boundaries, major monuments, and precincts;

-- survey attitudes toward Rome as conveyed in ancient and modern literature;

-- compare the Romes created in texts with the actual Rome;  and

-- understand what defines a city in relation to both urban and urbane culture.

In addition, the course will foster the following skills and abilities:  critical reading of both primary and secondary sources;  understanding various genres of writing;   formulating conclusions based on evidence; making connections among ideas;  and communicating ideas both orally and in writing.


Reading Rome is team-taught by the following faculty in Classics:

Professor Jackie Murray
Office: 205A Ladd Hall
Hours: TuTh 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and by appointment
Telephone: 518.580.8407
email: jmurray2@skidmore.edu; jackiemurr@gmail.com
Professor Dan Curley
Office: 210 Ladd Hall
Hours: MW 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. and by appointment
Telephone: 518.580.5463
email: dcurley@skidmore.edu

Professors Murray and Curley are both alumni of the University of Washington’s celebrated Rome Program, and they look forward to introducing (or reintroducing) students to the splendors of the Eternal City.


The following textbook is required for both Reading / Writing Rome:

Blue Guide to Rome (Tenth edition)
Authors: Alta Macadam with Annabel Barber
Publisher Blue Guides Limited (United Kingdom), 2010
ISBNs: 1905131380, 978-1905131389
     Renowned for its comprehensiveness, the Blue Guide to Rome lists major and minor sites, both classical and modern.  In Rome the Guide will probably be your constant companion.  In the classroom, however, we will use the Guide for a general (but reliable) overview of the spaces and places under consideration.

Other readings and materials will be distributed via the web or in coursepak.


Class participation (25%)

Class participation involves more than just attendance.  Students must also keep up with the readings and assignments, and participate actively during all sessions.  Students are also expected to come to class on time, to remain in the classroom during class, and to maintain an environment that promotes the exchange of ideas.

An essential component of class participation will be leading discussions of our texts.  Students will be divided into teams and asked to generate useful interpretive questions about each reading -- one question per team member.  On the day the reading is due, students will help lead the discussion by posing their questions to the class.

For more details and guidelines on generating useful questions, click here.

Adopt-a-site (25%)

Members of the class will "adopt" Roman sites, be they monuments, locations, or buildings.  That is, they will choose the sites in consultation with Jackie and Dan, research them, and present them to their peers.

Sites will be chosen after midterm break, and the presentations will begin in the last days of class.  During our time in Rome, students will lead the tour of their site.

Guidelines, due dates, and requirements.

Travel writing (25%)

Because many of our primary sources are models of travel writing in one way or another, and because this course is a prerequisite for Writing Rome, students of Reading Rome will make some inroads into the genre of travel writing, through the study of good exemplars and writing exercises.

Guidelines, due dates. and requirements.

Examinations (25%)

There will be two exams, together worth a quarter of your grade.  The midterm is scheduled for Friday, March 11;  the final, for Thursday, May 12, 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.  Details on both examinations will be distributed in advance.

NOTE:  Please make your travel plans in accordance with these dates, as it will NOT be possible to take the exams at other times.

© MMXI Skidmore College Classics Department