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Scholars study merits of Rome

MEGAN DOYLE | Friday, February 5, 2010

Scholars across disciplines will come together tonight and tomorrow in a colloquium hosted by the School of Architecture entitled “Learning from Rome: The Influence of the Eternal City on Art, Architecture and the Humanities” in order to question the merits of studying in and about the Italian capital.

The two-day colloquium, held in celebration of the School of Architecture’s 40th year in Italy, will begin with an address from keynote speaker Professor Ingrid Rowland tonight at 5 p.m. in Bond Hall.

 “The organizing principle of the colloquium is to take an interdisciplinary look at Notre Dame’s relationship to Rome,” multimedia coordinator Karen Voss said.

The colloquium will assemble scholars from the School of Architecture, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Department of English, the Department of Art, Art History and Design and the Department of History.

“The urbanity of Rome shows the students that all aspects of the city happen together,” Professor Samir Younes said. “The city brings people and disciplines together because the city is everything.”

In her keynote address, Rowland will focus on her introduction on the value of Rome in the lives of scholars both in ancient times and today.

“Living in a city with buildings from the lives of people who lived years ago, we are able to see more philosophically how short the amount of time we live but also how long our reach is past our lives,” Rowland said.

She said interdisciplinary study means being able to work more adequately as an architect.
“If you are a good architect, you are paying attention to human beings,” Rowland said. “And the more you know about human beings the better you can meet their needs.”
Professor Robin Rhodes described the city as a “crossroads indebted to many other cultures through commerce and conquest.”

“As an archeologist, I rely on people of many different disciplines,” Rhodes said. “We need not only field techniques but also the art and the architecture and the history and the languages and the literature of a given culture in order to interpret the objects being found on a dig.”

The combination of all the arts and humanities present in Rome as “everybody’s business” is what truly creates an experience of well-rounded education, Younes said.
Professors Joseph Buttigieg of the Department of English and Ted Cachey of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures plan to use their presentation, titled “All Roads Lead To Rome,” to focus on an emerging project called Interdisciplinary Italian Studies.

“The idea of the project is to bring together scholars whose work in some way or another is concerned with Italy,” Buttigieg said. “And we have found that the range of interest spans a broad range of departments.”

This program is also designed to contribute to the internationalization of Notre Dame, he said. Annual seminars in Rome for scholars will be sponsored by the University beginning next summer, and the project will invite post-doctorate and visiting scholars to spend time on Notre Dame’s campus.

The eventual hope for the project is the establishment of a humanities center in Rome, Buttigieg said. While no actual plans for this forum have been made, one goal of the colloquium is to determine the dynamic of interdisciplinary study in the Eternal City.

“Another key part of this project is the initiative with the support of different faculty members and of the University to improve the resources regarding Rome in the library,” Buttigieg said.

The product of Interdisciplinary Italian Studies would be “a model for collaborative research” based on a city that is an important source for education in general, he said.

Buttigieg described the city as “layered,” a compilation of wide-ranging eras of history and a place for interesting study of contemporary issues such as immigration as well as antiquity.

“Rome is our history,” Buttigieg said. “The legacy of this city is still what shapes our humanities.”