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Secrets & Symbols of Roman Art & Architecture: Renaissance & Baroque

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
July 20, 2014 - August 09, 20143M-F 8:30A-12:30POpenNoah Charney10398

Course Description

This course will provide an in-depth, insider investigation of the architectural and artistic wonders of the city of Rome, from the Renaissance through the Baroque. But more than this, this course will bring students behind the scenes, to explore the secrets and symbols of the hidden city. While the course will cover the major items of art historical interests, from the Caravaggio’s paintings to the Sistine Chapel, what sets this course apart is the focus on the important, but little-seen jewels of the Eternal City. The result is an insider’s study of the art and architecture of what is arguably the most important city in the history of the civilized world.

Art, architecture, and the stories behind the works come to life when seen in person. Therefore the emphasis of this course is on field trips throughout Rome. The lecturer will take full advantage of his many personal connections in Rome to open doors to locations that students can rarely access.

Students will be taught iconography, how to “read” paintings and architecture, the visual and structural vocabulary of symbolism in mythological and religious art, and the history of Rome as taught through tangible artworks and monuments that have survived the centuries. Students will leave with a sense of empowerment that they not only know Rome inside and out, but can approach any new building or work of art, without any advanced preparation, and interpret its form and meaning in an intelligent way. Art history is a language of symbols that we, today, have forgotten how to read. This course will use the original works in Rome to teach students the insider history of the city, and how to read its symbolism. Students completing this course will be thoroughly prepared to excel in any future art and architectural history classes.

By the end of the course, students will be able to give their own, informed guided tours to friends and family of the Renaissance and Baroque Italian art in any art museum in the world, without having prepared in advance. They will learn iconography, the visual language of art, that will allow them to knowledgeably interpret around 80% of any Early Modern Western art they come across. This course will also provide a huge head start to students who wish to study art history at university.

There are no course prerequisites, but students would do well to have read Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the Artists," in any translation and edition, before their arrival.


This course is only open to students enrolled in Pre-College Global Programs.

**When registering in Banner, students must enroll in "Ancient Rome: Archaeology & Civic Life" (CRN 10397) OR "Secrets & Symbols of Roman Art & Architecture" (CRN 10398) AND “Beginning Italian” (CRN 10370) AND one Humanities course option: “Modern Italy Through Film” (CRN 10399) or “Digital Photography" (CRN 10400).