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 or 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.
Dr. C. Jacob Butera is a Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Studies at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Dr. Butera started teaching at UNC Asheville in 2012, having received his Ph.D. in 2010 from Duke University. He studied for two years at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and has traveled extensively through Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Egypt. Dr. Butera works on topics in Greek and Roman military history and published a book titled Battles and Battlefields of Ancient Greece: A Guide to their History, Topography, and Archaeology. He has taught a broad array of courses which includes all levels of Greek and Latin, as well as civilization courses ranging from Indigeneity in Greek Prehistory, Memory and Commemoration in the Ancient Mediterranean, and Greek Art, to Roman Woodworking, Tacitus in NAZI Germany, and Classics in Film. Professor Butera also regularly leads study abroad programs to Greece and Italy.
Dr. Sheira Cohen is a classical archaeologist specializing in early Rome and Italy. She received her Ph.D from the University of Michigan’s Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology in 2023. She has a MA in Classics from the University of Sydney and a BA in Ancient History and Anthropology from the University of Auckland. Dr Cohen is an experienced field archaeologist with nearly a decade of experience excavating in central Italy. She has a particular interest in infant burials and community formation but her work covers a range of topics, from wayfinding and spatial cognition in Roman comedy to mobility patterns of shepherds in the Roman countryside. She is especially interested in questions of ethnicity and identity and how material culture helps us understand the past from individual and community perspectives. Dr. Cohen’s recent publications include an edited volume Production, Trade, and Connectivity in Pre-Roman Italy. She has taught courses in Roman art and archaeology, Greek civilization, ancient warfare, and the archaeology of death. Dr Cohen has spent many summers exploring all the nooks and crannies of Rome and central Italy; she is looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm for ancient objects with students as well as the best gelato spots.
Kathryn H. Stutz is a Ph.D candidate in Classics at Johns Hopkins University where she is writing her dissertation on ancient Mediterranean voyage narratives that feature the icy edges of the earth. She studied at ICCS as an undergraduate and holds BAs in Classical Languages and in Sociology & Anthropology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Kathryn has taught a range of courses—both at Johns Hopkins and at Loyola University Maryland—from Latin and ancient Greek language classes, to more specialized seminars on topics such as classical cannibalism and the influence of the ancient world on J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythopoetic world of Middle-earth. When not researching frosty “Polar Classics” or ancient Greek Arctic explorers for her dissertation, Kathryn also writes about the death and afterlife of Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. In 2023-2024, Kathryn will frequently be found wandering the grounds of the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, communing with cats and dead Romantic poets.
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.
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).