UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Roaming around Renaissance Rome

It’s a Tuesday, 4pm. The fifth hour of class for the day is over but there’s one more class to go before I can chill for the day. Instead of being tired and ready to call it a day, I’m looking forward to traveling to Rome.

OK – so maybe my travels will more abstract than real, but thrilling all the same. To be sure, I will be escorted on a walking tour of the city of Rome; it’s just that it will take place in the Kemper building at Sam Fox. My final class of the day is “Rome in the Renaissance” taught by Dr. Erin Sutherland. I love finishing my day with this energizing class. I relax in the calm dark lecture room and take copious notes as we are guided through Rome in the Renaissance. In one class period we can visit the Castel Sant’Angelo or the Sistine Chapel and in the next we can visit both the Pantheon and the Colosseum.

Not only do we get to travel around the city but in one class period we can time travel for centuries within the same architectural structure! First, we are in the Pantheon when it was completed by Hadrian in 125 AD and it was dedicated to the mother of the gods and all the gods. Then a flash we are in the Renaissance when it was given to the Christian religion as a church for Mary and all the Saints. For this particular lecture on October 31 we learned about All Saints Day and Hallows Eve, the ancient namesake for for this evening’s festivities of disguises and sweet treats .

Holiday origins are not the only themes worked seamlessly into the lectures. The current  exhibition in the Kemper Art Museum which is a curation of all the school’s prints of Rome in the Renaissance is harmonized into our course syllabus. From the prints and reprints of Raphael to Dürer, Rembrandt to Piranesi, the Nuremberg Chronicle to the Speculum Romanae, the gallery reflects the our slides from class. Going to the gallery once during class wasn’t enough. The intricate details of these printing masterpieces were so magnificent that it is said that Rome itself might be a disappointment.

Professor Sutherland reveals her passion about her topic as she weaves the histories and stories of Rome together through the architecture, in and out of the paintings. There is never a moment in class that I’m distracted nor a moment that I waver from a wish book passage on the next flight to Rome.