Prerequisites and Language Requirements
Rome is best negotiated on foot. We will do a great deal of walking on foot for daily explorations of the city and its many treasures.
15 UW Quarter Credits
ENGL 493/FHL 333: Writing Rome (5 credits) VLPA (for ENGL 493)
Though no prior experience in creative writing or the natural sciences is presumed, and a wide range is anticipated, the class will scale to respective students' abilities, and prove demanding at all levels. In one mood, we'll offer rigorous review of the technical elements of literary composition, prescribe practice, and experience for ten weeks what it means to carry one's mind as an artist. The famous monuments and cultural treasury of the city will serve as laboratory benches. In a contrasting mood, we'll study the literary methods of natural historians as they attempt to translate the "Book of Nature" into human language. For both venues, the question is the same: how can empirical detail and the associated "feel" of a lived life be made portable in the form of words on a page? To certify practical value: this question is germane in any discipline of which language is an element—which is to say, nearly all disciplines comprising the humanities and sciences.
Learning goals include:
This class is an experiment in what E. O. Wilson has called Consilience. Students will read and write and converse daily. Writing prompts and reading assignments will be designed to acquaint students with the elements of literary and scientific composition, and with the larger aims and methods of these respective domains. Goals will be assessed by tracking student participation in daily exercises, considering these in round-table conversation, and by evaluating final student portfolios.
ENGL 395: Reading Rome (5 credits) VLPA
We write, therefore we read; the practices are interdependent. In this class we'll read from a writerly perspective. Our course packet includes excerpts (in translation) from the ancient and medieval worlds, including Ovid, Virgil, Horace, Juvenal, Catullus, Petrarch, and Dante. Closer to home, we'll sample Edith Wharton, Henry James, E.M. Forster, Eugenio Montale, Charles Wright and Richard Wilbur, among others. John Keats will serve as our Psychopomp, or spirit-guide. We'll greet him at his apartment near the Spanish steps at the beginning of our travels, and bid him farewell at the Protestant cemetery near the end. We'll practice his notion of "negative capability" throughout.
Learning goals include:
The learning goals of this course are to introduce students to instances of literature, conceived in Rome, with particular attention to the writerly perspective and technical aspects of how literary works are made. These goals will be assessed in frequent round-table conversation, in written papers, oral presentations, and in comprehensive final portfolios.
ENGL 363: Seeing Rome - Nature and Culture in Rome and Environs (5 credits) VLPA
Of course one wants to see the famous sights of Rome, it's the first reason for going there, and we will. But seeing is an active verb, depending equally on the direction of the gaze and the cast of mind directing it. Bacon and Bernini were contemporaries; a scientist and an artist may peer in the same direction, and see quite different landscapes. This class will wear bifocal glasses, in just that way, attempting to see first with the mind of an artist, and second with the mind of a scientist. Phase One will feature guest experts in Italian language, art, architecture, archaeology, history, literary translation, and other facets of Roman intellectual life and culture. It proposes several field trips, including a hill-town to the north, a city of the dead, and a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Phase Two will begin to ask a different set of questions. What does it mean to think like a scientist? What's to be said about those little birds streaking against the ocher walls of that palazzo, nesting in its cornices? What is the natural history of a gryphon? Consider the most famous of the famous sights of Rome: For hundreds of years before its excavation as an archaeological park in modern times, the Colosseum was a wilderness of exotic flora and fauna, residual of the African, European and Asian animal trades serving the Roman games. Those blood sports are long gone, but the ecological trace remains. Which is only to note that any environment, urban or otherwise, may be seen by the light of natural science. This class means to do so in Rome and the regions our field trips touch.
Learning goals include:
The learning goals of this course are threefold. First, to consider Italian language, art, architecture, history, and contemporary culture in Rome, in order to get a feel for the interdisciplinary quality of Humanist thought. Second, to consider the natural history of the available environments, under the direction of a distinguished biologist, in order to get a firsthand feel for empirical methods of observation. Third, to try to integrate these casts of mind. The goals of this course will be assessed by tracking student participation in daily activities, and by evaluating student conversation, formal presentations, and comprehensive portfolios, including logs from the scientific phase of the class.