Colosseum arches

Rome Graduate Seminar in Aesthetics and Cultural Studies: Vision and Rationality



Program Overview




Reading List

Field Trips

Special Events




General Summer Program Information

Eligibility and Application Procedures

Application Deadline




Temple University Rome offers a four-week graduate seminar designed to bring together the disciplines of aesthetics and cultural studies. In its interdisciplinary thrust, the six-credit seminar is intended to serve as a foundation for advanced study in the human sciences and to reflect the most current trends of thought in post-modern culture. The seminar convenes at Temple University's campus in Rome.

Graduate and post-doctoral students in fields such as literature, film studies, philosophy, art and social theory are welcome to apply. The seminar, taught in English, entails an intensive program of class work, field trips and guest lectures, and the city of Rome is used extensively as a resource.

The Temple Rome campus is ideally located in the heart of Rome, in the Villa Caproni, a handsome building facing the Tiber River. Just north of Piazza del Popolo and within walking distance of the lively Spanish Steps and the beautiful Borghese Gardens, the Villa Caproni is convenient to living accommodations, shops and restaurants. Its facilities include a 16,000-volume library one of the largest English-language libraries in Rome, a computer center, academic classrooms, extensive art and architecture studios, an art gallery and student lounges.

Accommodations can be arranged in an apartment residence or students can make their own living arrangements in advance. Depending on the number of program participants requesting housing in the apartment residence, graduate seminar students may be housed with undergraduate summer session students.

Rome Graduate Seminar at the Villa Caproni



This seminar topic focuses on the troubled relation between perception and cognition in three historical moments of Western culture: the Renaissance and the birth of single point perspective; the Baroque and Counter-Reformation; and the postmodern critique of Enlightenment rationality. We speculate about how our culture has been shaped by collaboration and conflict among visual, visionary, ideological and rational ways of knowing the world. The scope of inquiry embraces literary, philosophical, painterly and cinematic texts.

Among the questions to be raised are: What is the relation between visual and verbal representation? Is the perceptual realm of sight necessarily subordinated to rationality? What is the place of visual representation in the tug-of-war between imaginary and real spheres of being? What historical and ideological exchanges between vision and rationality continue to affect our social and political orders? What role does aesthetics play in the making of a public sphere?

Program participants enroll in either English 9089: Rome Seminar Art & Culture (6 graduate credits), or its cross-listed course, Art History 8450: Special Projects (6 graduate credits).

On-site ClassRome Graduate Seminar



The seminar is conducted in English through lecture/discussion sessions and closely coordinated field trips. The class sessions focus upon the listed readings below in the theory of ideology and the history of art. The field sessions focus upon Roman illusionist painting; Caravaggio and the Counter-Reformation; Baroque sculpture and architecture; and the holdings in futurism and abstraction at the Museum of Modern Art in Rome.



Alan Singer is Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies in English at Temple University. He writes on aesthetics, literary theory and cultural studies topics. He is the author of many scholarly articles and four critical books, most recently Aesthetic Reason: Artworks and the Deliberative Ethos (2003) and The Self-Deceiving Muse: Notice and Knowledge in the Work of Art (2010). He is the author of four novels, most recently Dirtmouth (2004) and The Inquisitor's Tongue (2011). His book-in-progress is A Perceptual Ethics, excerpts of which have recently appeared in the journals Symploke and Cultural Critique.

Robert L. Caserio, Professor of English, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, is co-editor, with Clement C. Hawes, of The Cambridge History of the English Novel (2012), and editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Twentieth Century English Novel (2009). He is the author of The Novel in England 1900-1945: History and Theory; and of Plot, Story, and the Novel: from Dickens and Poe to the Modern Period. He has published numerous essays on narrative fiction, on poetry, and on gay and lesbian literature.

Brunella Antomarini, PhD in Aesthetics at Gregoriana University in Rome, teaches aesthetics and contemporary philosophy at John Cabot University in Rome and is the author of the books Pensare con l’errore (Codice Edizioni, Torino 2008), Thinking through Error (Lexington Books, 2012), L’errore del maestro (Derive Approdi, Rome 2006), and La percezione della forma in Hans Urs von Balthasar (Sie Edizioni, Palermo 2004). She is the editor of many monographs and has published many articles in international journals. A selection of her recent publications includes: Teatri dell'occhio. L'alternarsi non-lineare delle teorie dei colori, in AA.VV. Connessioni inattese. Crossing tra arte e scienza, Ignazio Licata, ed., Giancarlo Politi Editore, Milano 2009, pp.69-96.  La natura come caso speciale della tecnica, in Il corpo e la tecnica, B. Antomarini and S. Tagliagambe, ed., Franco Angeli, Roma 2007. The Notion of afterlife in Benjamin's Philosophy of History. Proceedings of the International Conference at John Cabot University on Critical Theory, April 27-29, 2007. The Acoustical Pre-history of Poetry, “New Literary History,” tr. S. Stewart, vol. 35, no. 3, Summer 2004.




  • Selections from On Painting, by Leonbattista Alberti
  • Vision and Visuality, edited by Hal Foster
  • Selected writings by Teresa of Avila
  • Selected poetry by John Donne and Richard Crashaw
  • "The Analytic of the Sublime" from Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment
  • Selections from Four Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan
  • Force Fields, by Martin Jay
  • "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" by Louis Althusser
  • The Inhuman, by Jean Francois Lyotard
  • Film: The Draughtsman's Contract, by Peter Greenaway



  • The Advent of Single-Point Perspective: paintings by Giotto, Lippi, Michelangelo--including the Sistine Chapel. (Rome)
  • Baroque Painting and the Counter-Reformation: the incarnational image in the work of Caravaggio. Also trompe l'oeil works by Pozzo, Borromini, the anamorphic experimenters. (Rome)
  • The Tradition of Roman Illusionist Painting. (Pompeii)
  • The Uffizi, Brancacci Chapel. (Weekend trip to Florence)



In past years we have invited guest lecturers and artists to conduct a one-day workshop in relation to the issues of the seminar, and we hope to continue this practice. Previous guests include: Rodolphe Gasche (theorist, philosopher), Juliet Mitchell (psychoanalyst), Jacqueline Rose (literary critic), Anthony Giddens (political theorist), Jean-Marie Straub (filmmaker), Marco Bellocchio (filmmaker), Enzo Cucchi (painter), Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel (installation artists), Peter Greenaway (film-maker), Bernardo Bertolucci (film-maker), Michael Fried (art historian), Peter Flaccus, (painter), the Brothers Quay (film-makers), Mieke Bal (theorist and art critic), Stefano di Stasio (painter), Jannis Kounellis (sculptor) and Sandro Chia (painter and sculptor).




Billable Item Pennsylvania Resident Non-Resident
Graduate Tuition (6 credits)



Housing (based on triple or quad occupancy)* $1,200* $1,200*
Program Fee** $250** $250**
University Services Fee $132 $132
Rome Immigration Fee $45 $45
Required Health Insurance $51 $51
Non-Billable Item Estimates      
Meals $800 $800
Personal Expenses $850 $850
Round-trip Airfare $1,600 $1,600



All estimated costs are subject to change. They should be used as a guideline only. Accepted students will receive updated, detailed cost information as soon as it is available after the application deadline.

*Fee includes housing in the apartment residence.

**Please note that the program fee applies to all students.

In addition to the items listed above, students should budget money for books and any personal travel.

We recommend that students follow the exchange rate prior to and during their summer abroad, either through the newspaper or a currency exchange web site (such as


Dates are tentative and subject to change


  Departure May 28
  Arrival in Rome May 29
  Program Ends June 27



Please see General Summer Information to read about pre-departure information and orientation, passports and visas, scholarships, costs and payment policies, accreditation, and transfer of credits.


Please see Eligibility and Application Procedures for program eligibility, application requirements, and application procedures that apply to all summer programs. In addition, the following is required of applicants to this program:

  • A statement (150-250 words) describing your current research and ongoing study projects, and the expectations you have from the program related to your work. Applicants are asked to complete this statement within the application.





To speak with program faculty, please contact Alan Singer, Temple University,

For further information, contact Education Abroad, 215-204-0720,