Fine Arts | Art of the Roman Spectacle
S103 | 26092 | Van Voorhis
This is a COLL class.
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
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.