The heart of the Centro curriculum is The Ancient City, a double-credit course required of all Centristi. This interdisciplinary class tackles Rome’s art, history, archaeology, topography, social make-up, and much more. The Professor-in-Charge heads up the course, and all Centro faculty lend their expertise to this joint endeavor.
Over the course of a typical week, Centristi dedicate two half-days and one full day to The Ancient City. Almost all class meetings unfold on archaeological sites, in museums, and amid standing remains. Daylong excursions to Rome’s neighboring cities and sites round out the picture of Rome’s growth from a clutch of huts on a hill to the head of a Mediterranean-spanning empire.
Additionally, throughout the term, the Centro hits the road for longer excursions: to the Bay of Naples and elsewhere throughout Roman lands, such as Sicily, stunning sites in Northern Italy, colonial cities in Southern France and other spots as chosen by the faculty. Thanks to these trips, The Ancient City touches on Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and native Italian (and even Gallic) populations, their interactions, and mutual influence. While the course focuses on Rome, a rich picture of the city’s broader context emerges as The Ancient City unfolds.
What can you expect from The Ancient City? Stand where Cicero delivered speeches in the Forum Romanum. Descend into subterranean shrines to the mystery cult of Mithras. Learn about the self-identities of former enslaved peoples along the Via Appia. Contrast the grand reception rooms of sprawling villas with the cramped kitchens and narrow hallways of urban apartments at Pompeii, Ostia, and Herculaneum.
All Centro classes involve learning by doing – studying paintings and sculpture in the manner they were intended to be displayed; examining the elements’ effect on standing architecture; or performing your own adaptation of a Greek play in an ancient theater. Centristi completely soak in and take full advantage of all that Rome and Italy have to offer.
Many Centristi enroll in Ancient Greek and/or Latin at the intermediate or advanced level. Every year, faculty members select texts that suit their personal expertise, that come to life while being read on site in Rome, and that usually avoid commonly-read works. That way, all students are encountering a text in a new way. Where better to read the Res Gestae, for instance, than in the city that Augustus transformed from brick to marble?
Courses in the past have explored literary inscriptions, Greek authors’ visions of Rome, Latin authors’ conceptions of urban space, Aeneid 8, Plutarch’s Life of Anthony, and other topics.
There is no ancient language requirement at the Centro; students are welcome to take as many or as few Greek and Latin courses as they’d like. These courses are each taught by one of the four Centro professors.
Renaissance and Baroque Art History grants Centristi the opportunity to explore another stratum of the Eternal City head-on and in-person. Learn about greats of the Italian artistic pantheon – Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini, and others – by seeing their masterpieces in Rome’s churches, museums, and palazzi. This course is taught by Paul Tegmeyer.
Conservation and Management of the Material Heritage of Ancient Rome grants Centristi the opportunity to learn about and also to try their hand at the preservation of Rome’s physical remains. Thanks to deep connections in the field of conservation, Centristi in recent years have visited on-going excavations to witness in situ technical operations. Meanwhile, back at the Centro’s temporary laboratory, they use ancient techniques to construct their own mosaics. This course is taught by Roberto Nardi.
Buongiorno! Centristi in Elementary Italian learn basic grammar, morphology, and vocabulary of the language. Special emphasis concentrates on oral skills that are helpful in navigating contemporary life in Rome and Italy. This course is taught by Barbara Castaldo.
Each academic year, the Centro selects four professors from posts at premier institutions across the US and Canada to lead the program. Many are former Centristi themselves; all are lovers of Rome who are excited to engage with dedicated students of the ancient world. As true Romanophiles, faculty look to the mos maiorum and honor many past traditions when crafting a syllabus. Since new faculty arrive each year, they bring their own ideas and both draw on and contribute to the program’s energy. Accordingly, the Centro’s curriculum is constantly refreshed and tailored to suit the talents and expertise of each year’s professors. It’s a bit like a jazz concert – the standards all get played, but every faculty cohort adds their own vibe.
To round out the teaching team, three Italy-based faculty lend their expertise on Italian, Renaissance and Baroque Art History, and Conservation.
Christopher Gregg is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. He received his BA and MA in Latin from the University of Georgia before completing his doctorate in Classical Archaeology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Among his academic interests is the study of Roman urbanism, and he has visited more than 120 classical Greek and Roman sites as a part of his on-going desire to better understand the complexities of life in the ancient Mediterranean world. Gregg has excavated at the Roman-era Yasmina Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia as well as with the Roman Aqaba Project in Jordan and at the Villa of Maxentius on the Via Appia Antica in Rome. He has previously been a faculty member at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome four times, most recently as the Professor in Charge for the 2016-2017 academic year. He was co-director for the University of Georgia’s Classics in Rome summer program from 2014-2020 and has launched study abroad programs in Italy and France for his home university. He has published on the Alumnus disc from the Yasmina Cemetery in the Journal of Roman Archaeology, contributed and revised the Pompeii entry to the Oxford Bibliographies Online project; in 2021, he edited and contributed to Engines of Education: Essays on the GMU Plaster Cast Collection. Gregg has been a frequent speaker for the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program in Washington, DC and an invited academic lecturer on a variety of topics ranging from the Roman Forum to the representation of sexuality and gender in Roman mythological frescos.
Adam Serfass graduated from Williams College with a BA in Classics and from Stanford University with a PhD in the same field. He is currently Professor of Classics at Kenyon College, where he teaches a range of courses in Greek, Latin, and ancient history. For his work in the classroom he has won two teaching awards. He studied at ICCS as an undergraduate, and taught there in 2010-11. Originating in a Greek course he first offered at the Centro, his book Views of Rome: A Greek Reader, an annotated anthology of Greek-language writings about the Romans, received the Classical Association of the Middle West and South’s Bolchazy Pedagogy Book Award. He has delivered papers, reviewed books, and written essays on the history of ancient Rome, especially the diffusion of Christianity in late antiquity. In 2022-23, he will resume his quest to drink from every nasone (public water fountain) in the Eternal City.
Hannah Sorscher received her Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021, with a dissertation on young women and chosen family in Roman comedy. She held a Teach@Tübingen fellowship at the Universität Tübingen Philologisches Seminar in Tübingen, Germany in 2021-22, during which she gave courses on Women in Ancient Comedy and Ovid’s Metamorphoses and its Reception. She specializes in Latin poetry, particularly Roman comedy and Augustan poetry; Greek New Comedy; and women and the family in antiquity, especially women and warfare. Her time studying abroad in Rome as an undergraduate was formative for her career researching and reading about the ancient Mediterranean, so she is delighted to experience the Centro for the first time.
Barbara Castaldo (Laurea, Università La Sapienza di Roma; M.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., New York University) is specialized in contemporary Italian literature with a doctoral thesis on Italian author Pier Paolo Pasolini (awarded Premio Pasolini in 2009). Her research interests include law and literature scholarship and comparative literature. She has published articles on contemporary Italian authors (Sandro Veronesi, Marco Lodoli, Ennio Flaiano, Pier Paolo Pasolini), and has appeared in a number of TV documentaries and radio interviews for Rai Storia (Italy), Arte TV (France-Germany), Österreich 1 (Austria). She is currently working on a book on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s legal trials. She has taught courses of Italian language at all levels and has been teaching Italian at ICCS since 2005.
Paul Tegmeyer began studying art history as an undergraduate at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he was raised. After moving to Italy, actually l’Aquila, outside Rome, in 1983, he began graduate school at Temple University in Rome, and then Philadelphia. He later entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania. His area of specialization is the Italian Renaissance.
He began teaching the Renaissance. to Baroque Rome course at ICCS from 1990-92 and again from 1997 on. He also been teaching at John Cabot University in Rome since 1991. Here he has had the opportunity to expand his repertoire beyond the Italian Renaissance, teaching courses on Ancient and Medieval Rome, Baroque art, as well as monographic courses on Renaissance Rome; Raphael; Michelangelo; Bernini; et al. Since 1997 he has also conducted the Rome Seminar for the Smithsonian Institute.
His research focuses primarily on various aspects of Roman Renaissance art (Raphael, Pollaiuolo, Michelangelo, et al.). He is also now in the early stages of preparing with other colleagues, a “Guide to Renaissance Rome”.
Roberto Nardi gained a degree in archaeology from the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1982, and a degree in conservation of archaeological materials and structures at ICR – Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, where he specialized in stone conservation in 1982.
In the same year, he founded the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA), a private company operating on public commission in the field of conservation of ancient monuments and archaeological sites, including professional training in conservation.
He has directed over 50 projects in 10 countries, on monuments and sites such as the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Temple of Vespasian in the Roman Forum, the Roman town of Zeugma, Turkey, the mural paintings of the Madrasa Amiriya in Yemen, and the mosaics of Saint Catherine in Sinai. Roberto has published over 80 technical articles, being co-editor of 7 volumes on conservation.
He is President of the ICCM, International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics and member of ICOM, International Council of Museums – Committee for Conservation. He was Kress Lecturer at the American Institute of Archaeology for the academic years 2010/2011.
Anthony Corbeill is Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Classics Department at the University of Virginia. After receiving my A.B. in Classics from the University of Michigan, and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, I spent a transformative year as the Society of Classical Studies (née APA) Fellow to the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, a comprehensive dictionary of Latin located in Munich, Germany. I then taught in the Department of Classics at the University of Kansas for twenty-six years, leaving for Virginia in 2017. I have been a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, subsequent to which I served as editor of Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome and as a Trustee. I have also held visiting appointments or fellowships at Vassar College, the Universities of Wisconsin and Michigan, All Souls and Corpus Christi Colleges (Oxford), and the Institute of Classical Studies (London). I focus in my research on Roman sex/gender, education, and rhetoric, and my major publications in these areas include Controlling Laughter: Political Humor in the Late Roman Republic (Princeton, 1996); Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome (Princeton, 2004); and Sexing the World: Grammatical Gender and Biological Sex in Ancient Rome (Princeton, 2015), which received a 2016 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit from the Society for Classical Studies. I recently finished an edition, with introduction, translation, and extensive notes, of Cicero’s De Haruspicum Responsis (Oxford University Press, 2023).I have led students on study-abroad excursions to Italy on several occasions and am delighted at having the opportunity to continue doing so at the Centro.
Sonia Sabnis is Professor of Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Humanities at Reed College, where she has taught since 2006. She studied at the Centro during the Fall 1996 semester and received her BA from Columbia University before completing an MA and Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley. She is broadly interested in imperial literature, Greek and Latin, but her primary research specialty is the African Roman author Apuleius. Her published research includes studies of slavery and literature, figurative katabasis, and reception in different contexts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, such as contemporary Algerian novels, horror, and poetry in English. Prof. Sabnis was Associate Professor at the Centro in 2017–2018 and has held research fellowships at Vassar College, Wellesley College, and the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts. Her love for mentoring students and undergraduate research extends to her current role as a mentor through the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus (AAACC).