Monday, March 23, 2015

Assignment for Friday, 03-27-15

Dear Readers of Rome,

On Friday, we will review a long stretch of history that includes Crusades, various schisms, some monastic orders, and some sackings. While our our focus remains on Rome, notice how events happening in other places (such as Jerusalem and Constantinople) impact what happens in the West. A chief concern in this historical sweep is for us to recognize the tension between power ( as in commanding armies or controlling wealth) and authority (as in leading and learning an apostolic life), and how that dynamic is played out on the urban stage that is Rome. 

Please do the following:

(1) Download, print, and read the timeline, Monks, Mendicants, Crusaders & Anti-Popes.

(2) Download, print, and read the short selection on the 1527 Sacking of Rome from Charles L. Stinger's  book The Renaissance in Rome (Yale, 1985).

(3) Read the section "Dissent and Schism" in the Blue Guide's Historical Sketch (pp. 19–21).

The materials we review on Friday are valuable not just for contextualizing what we learn in this current unit (Popes, Pilgrims & Heretics), focused as it is on the Middle Ages and Renaissance; they also anticipate important events we will cover when we get to the Modern Period.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Assignment for Wednesday, 03-25-15

Dear Roman Readers,

The assignment for Wednesday, given in advance in case you want to get started now, is a little thick in terms of page count; don't miss the reading strategies at the end of this post to help you manage.

On March 25, we'll be exploring the topic of pilgrimage to Rome: the journeys undertaken by Christian travelers (pilgrims) to the Eternal City.

Please do the following:

(1) Download, print, and read Charles L. Stinger's short discussion of Roman pilgrimage from his book The Renaissance in Rome (Yale, 1985).

(2) Download, print, and read the selections from the Mirabilia Urbis Romae (Marvels of the City of Rome), a kind of Blue Guide for medieval pilgrims, originally written by a priest of St. Peter's basilica in the 1140s and copied and expanded for centuries thereafter.

(3) Download, print, and read the excerpt from chapter 4 of Herbert Kessler and Johanna Zacharias' book, Rome 1300: On the Path of the Pilgrim. Kessler and Zacharias recreate the experience of a Roman pilgrim in a medieval jubilee year. This fourth chapter, like much of the book, is concerned with the procession of the Acheropita through the city, in this case the Forum Romanum. (Recall that the Acheropita is the relic-painting of Christ begun by St. Luke and finished by an angel, previously noted in the Relics factsheet.)

(4) Read the following sections in the Blue Guide to supplement the above:
  • "Holy Years & the Pilgrimage Churches," p. 276; and 
  • "Rome as a Centre of Pilgrimage," p. 432.

 *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Strategies for reading the Mirabilia and Kessler-Zacharias:

  • Do use your foundational knowledge of the physical city to make sense of these texts. That's one of the reasons we're reading them, to help you appreciate the layering of the centuries.

  • Do focus on the ideologies at work and how they illuminate the Christian mindset. A faithful pilgrim must approach an old pagan city with a certain value system. What are the tenets of that value system?

  • With regard to the jubilee procession, think again about other processional routes we have studied. The best parade routes are often practical (which locations maximize the spectacle?) and are always meaningful (which locations offer the most resonance and wonder?).

  • Don't skim the texts; read them carefully, but don't worry so much about every last detail.

Assignment for Monday, 03-23-15

Dear Roman Readers,

Prof. Spinner and I hope your break has been restful.

It's time to start gearing up for our last month of Reading Rome. On Monday, March 23, we begin our journey to the Renaissance and beyond. We'll start with an overview of the unit, and then launch into part 2 of my presentation on the development of the basilica. Then my esteemed colleague will lead us in a discussion of the popes and the papacy, for which we'll consider parade routes through Rome, pagan and Christian.

In preparation for our reunion, please do the following:

(1) Download, print, and read Dr. Spinner's stunning three-page overview of the papacy. As you peruse it, please bear in mind that he wrote it especially for you: I do not exaggerate when I call it a masterpiece of erudition and abbreviation.

(2) Download, print, and read Charles L. Stinger's brief discussion of the possesso, a special papal procession across Rome, from his book The Renaissance in Rome (Yale, 1985).

(3) Please read the following sections in the Blue Guide:
  • "The Papacy and Medieval Rome," pp. 16–18;
  • "Popes and Holy Roman Emperors," pp. 18–19; and 
  • "Popes and the Papacy," pp. 31–33.
All three selections will not only complement Dr. Spinner's overview, but also move us forward in time.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

(No) Quizzes for Weeks 9 and 10

Dear Readers of Rome,

After the quizzes due tonight (Week 8), there will be no quizzes due Week 9 (the week of break) or Week 10 (the week after). Rather, Prof. Spinner and I want you to concentrate on the annotated bibliographies for your site reports, due Sunday, March 29 (not the 28th, as mentioned in class today).

We'll resume with quizzes in Week 11. At some point you can expect a large review quiz on Unit 2, but not just yet.

Happy researching,


Mandatory Orientation on 03-13-15

Dear Readers of Rome,

My absolute last, final, definitive reminder about Friday's class, the MANDATORY orientation session held by OCSE to prepare us all for Writing Rome.

How MANDATORY is it? So MANDATORY that, if you're not there, you're not going to Rome. That's how mandatory it is. OCSE is legally obligated to provide information to departing students.

So bring your questions and your smiles (because it will also be picture day for your St. John's IDs); but above all bring yourselves to this MANDATORY session. It would be a shame if, after so many weeks of hard work, you were exiled like Ovid from Rome; or kept from the Promised Land like Moses; or...


PS: Have I mentioned the session is MANDATORY?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Assignment for Wednesday, 03-11-15

Dear Roman Readers,

For Wednesday, March 9, please do the following:

(1) Download, read, and print Amanda Claridge's short and sweet treatment of the basilica from classical to Christian Rome.  (Note: Claridge's archaeological guide to Rome will be an essential source for most of the site reports in Writing Rome.)

(2) Download, read, and print the two letters by St. Jerome, which also double as a fact sheet. We'll talk more on Wednesday about Jerome's incalculable contributions to Western civilization; but for now let's place him on the same shelf as Tertullian and St. Augustine, who also wrestled with being Roman Christians.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Assignment for 03-09-2015

Dear Readers of Rome,

On Monday, Team C will lead a discussion of an assortment of texts.  While we can only sample a small selection from the many volumes of the Latin Fathers of the Church, we have chosen some really interesting materials, and provided some rabbinic counterpoint.

(1) Download, print and read the fact sheet about the Latin Church Fathers.

(2) Download, print and read the excerpts from Tertullian's De Spectaculis.

(3) Download, print and read the rabbinic sources, "Foreign Gods & Greek Wisdom.

(Rabban Gamaliel is a major Jewish figure of the first century C.E. Note that he was mentioned on the Ancient Judaism timeline. Gamaliel was the grandson of the revered teacher Hillel, and he served as the head of the Sanhedrin not long after the time of Jesus, and before the destruction of the Second Temple.)

 (4) Download, print and read the excerpts from Augustine.

In looking at these texts together, we want to consider how Jews and Christians defined themselves in a predominantly pagan world. While these groups shared an aversion to what they deemed "idolatrous," they still had to negotiate their relationship to classical learning, as well as debate their participation in aspects of city life, such as attending circuses, theaters, and baths. Both patristic and rabbinic texts exhibit a wide gamut of views, ranging from tentative forms of approval to sharp opprobrium.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Quizzes for Week 8

Dear Roman Readers,

The quizzes for Week 8, due Wednesday evening (March 11), at 11:59 p.m., are now up and running.

Please take the following three quizzes:
  • Quiz 15: Ancient Rome Review (46 pts., 7 min.)
  • Quiz 16: Martyrs & Relics (15 pts., 3 min.)
  • Quiz 17: Christians in a Pagan World (15 pts., untimed)
Quiz 15 compiles the biggest, boldest questions from the Unit 1 multiple choice quizzes. This is a maintenance quiz, designed to stimulate your recall of essential facts. You have seen all of these questions before.

Quiz 16, multiple choice, recaps our discussions of sanctified economies from last Monday and Wednesday.

Quiz 17, short answers, focuses on the intersection of Roman and Christian values as exemplified by apostolic and saintly lives.

Good luck!


Some Announcements

Dear Readers of Rome,

Please read the following post carefully, since it offers some policies and suggestions for the immediate future. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact either me or Dr. Spinner.

(1) SATURDAY EVENING DEADLINES for both writing assignments and the site reports will now be moved to Sundays at noon. This includes the upcoming writing assignment (#2).

(2) WEDNESDAY QUIZ DEADLINES will be extended to 11:59 p.m.

(3) TIME ON QUIZZES (except on those repeated over the course of the term) will be extended slightly to allow more time for completion.

Items 1–3 are in response to suggestions and comments from you, the students. We hope the new policies will prove helpful.

(4) PLEASE STAY PUT DURING CLASS, unless you are suddenly and seriously ill. There's been a rash of folks getting up and leaving in the middle of things lately, and it's distracting for everyone else.

(5) SITE REPORTS: Now that you've all been oriented by our peer mentor, let me suggest that you begin researching your sites before break. Put in a little time this week, maybe as much as 2–3 hours, going through the books we've set aside and taking your first round of notes. Otherwise, when we come back from break, you'll have less than a week to get started.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Assignment for 03-06-2015

Dear Readers of Rome,

On Friday, we transition into imperial forms of Christianity, focusing on the emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena.

(1) In lieu of a factsheet, read the section on "Constantine and the New World Order," in the Blue Guide, p. 16.

(2) Download, print and read the excerpts from Robert M. Grant's Augustus to Constantine.

(3) Download, print and read Jonathan Bardill's examination of the different accounts of how Constantine came to adopt his battle standard, which some read as the emperor's conversion experience.

(4) Download, print and read the Nicene Creed.

(5) Download, print and read the excerpts from Jan Drijvers' Helena Augusta.

Constantine's promotion of Christianity is a watershed moment in Western history. From this point on, Christians cease being depicted as outliers and as antagonists to things Roman, as Rome itself starts to be reconfigured as Christian.