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Level 5

5AACAR08 Roman Art 2: Art in the Private Sphere

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor 2017/18: Dr Caroline Barron
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminar (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x essay of 2,500 words (60%); 2 x commentary of 750 words, (40%, with each commentary worth 20%).

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand, there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Just as today, the decoration of Roman interior spaces tells us much about the individual who chose them and the society and region in which they were made. During this module we examine a variety of media employed to embellish the interiors of largely private Roman buildings in order to investigate the dynamics of taste and fashion as well as changing aspirations and beliefs. Materials covered include mosaics, wallpaintings, sculpture, household furnishings, and tablewares as used within the house and in gardens.

The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the range and role of Roman visual culture in the domestic sphere with special focus on the decorative output from Rome and the provinces between the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD. Students will become familiar with the visual material through close analysis of the function and meaning of the iconography in order to understand its significance in the wider physical, social and historical contexts. You will also explore its position in relationship to earlier artistic output as well as the nature of the contemporary ancient literature and its impact on our understanding of ancient art. Students will also become aware of the dynamics of our changing views of the past from the important discoveries of the 18th century through to current theoretical arguments in art history, anthropology and archaeology.

Rumble Fund Module 2017-18 

In 2017/18, students taking BOTH modules 5AACAR07 (Roman Art 1) and 5AACAR08 (Roman Art 2) are eligible to take part on the Rumble Fieldtrip to Rome (currently scheduled for Saturday 9th to Wednesday 13th December 2017): the trip will be guided by Dr Michael Squire, and will include access to sites and monuments usually closed to the public.

All expenses for departmental students will be paid thanks to the generosity of the Department’s Rumble Fund.  The fieldtrip is only open to students taking 5AACAR07 Roman Art 1: Art, Power and Authority and 5AACAR08 Roman Art 2: Art in the Private Sphere; the fieldtrip is an integrated part of the teaching.

The number of students on the combined version of the module is capped at around 18–20, with priority given to certain students (as outlined in the Classics module choices documentation). Please note, however, that in previous years all departmental students who have signed up for Rumble Trip modules have been accommodated within the programme.

Due to the complexities of organising the trip (including organising access to sites and monuments closed to the public), students will be asked to confirm their place on the trip by submitting a signed declaration of intent: 

  • The declaration form will be emailed to students who are allocated a place on module 5AACAR07 and 5AACAR08 by the Department, after students are notified of their allocations in May.
  • You must sign and return this form to the Department of Classics – either in hard copy, or as a scan to classics@kcl.ac.uk – no later than 23 May.
  • If you fail to confirm your place on the trip by 23 May, the place will automatically be offered to another student.  You will be reallocated to alternative modules once the timetables become available in August 2017.  This will mean that your choices will be limited.

Students who fail to confirm their participation will be de-selected from the module; any student who wishes to change this module selection from June 2017 would likewise be required to pay a penalty of £100 so that their place can be offered to another student.

The 2017-18 Rumble fieldtrip is only open to KCL Department of Classics students and is not available to intercollegiate students, Study Abroad students or students from any other KCL Depart

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • Brilliant, R. Roman Art from the Republic to Constantine (London, 1974).

  • Clarke, J.R. Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans (Berkeley, 2003).

  • D'Ambra, E. (ed) Roman Art in Context: an anthology (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1993).

  • Dunbabin, K.M.D. Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World (Cambridge, 1999).

  • Elsner, J. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph (Oxford, 1998).

  • Gazda, E.K. (ed.) Roman Art in the Private Sphere (Ann Arbor, 1991).

  • Ling, R. Roman Painting (Cambridge, 1991).

  • Smith, R.R.R. ‘The use of images: visual history and ancient history’, in T.P. Wiseman (ed.), Classics in Progress: Essays on Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford, 2002), 59-102.

  • Stewart, P.C.N. The Social History of Roman Art (Cambridge, 2008). 

  • Wallace-Hadrill, A. Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Princeton, 1994).

  • Zanker, P. Pompeii: Public and Private Life (Cambridge, Mass., 1998)

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