Fine Arts | COAS TOPICS COURSE - Art of the Roman Spectacle
S103 | 0088 | VanVoorhis
With the popularity of the movie Gladiator, the American public has gained
a greater awareness and appreciation of the world of ancient Roman
spectacle. Drawing upon a combination of visual art and ancient texts,
this course will examine the full range of public spectacles in ancient
Rome. We will begin our exploration with the subject of Roman
entertainment, such as music and theater, athletic events, and, of course,
gladiatorial combats and wild beast fights. We will then expand our
definition of spectacle to encompass other public activities, including
the ceremonies of Roman religion, the imperial triumphal procession, and
the Roman funeral. In class we will explore the varied roles that
spectacle played in Roman society and how such public displays served to
define and reinforce Roman cultural traditions, class hierarchies, and
social order. We will also examine our own culture of spectacle to help
us contextualize the past and connect it with contemporary life.
The class will be discussion-oriented and will require the active and
critical involvement of each student. Weekly reading assignments covering
a wide range of perspectives will serve as the basis for our discussions;
we will, however, also examine representations of Roman spectacle in
contemporary writing and mass media.
Requirements include short writing assignments, quizzes, and participation
in a group project. In addition, each student will keep a journal that
explores his/her responses to the issues and questions examined in class.