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Notre Dame is offering a free online class on Roman architecture

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The Eternal City has a voice. This class will help you hear it.

Tourists and pilgrims are equally awestruck upon witnessing the glory of Rome. The city’s ancient architecture allows each building to stand as a masterful monument to the past, but while the artistry of each individual structure may speak to us, the city as a whole has a “voice” that requires an understanding of its architecture to hear.

Now, we can all learn to hear a city’s “voice,” thanks to a free online course, The Meaning of Rome: The Renaissance and Baroque City, offered by the University of Notre Dame on Class Central. Students will focus on Rome during the Renaissance and Baroque periods and how the city utilized urban form, art, and architecture to project its image to the citizens and the world.

One of the course’s professors, David Mayernik, explains the artistic significance of a city in the accompanying video:

“In the past, society strove to make their cities manifest their values and aspirations. Cities were works of art, deliberately designed to say something about those aspirations and the societies that made them. If we find [these cities] as particularly beautiful, it is because that beauty was a vehicle for ideas … The city, in many ways, was the richest of all art forms, because it was lived in and experienced dynamically.”

Rome was shaped through ongoing investments from popes, architects, scholars and sculptors. Each addition worked to create a narrative that would become a visual history of the city, as well as a force to encourage harmony between citizens and the growth of a shared societal identity.

“The Meaning of Rome: The Renaissance and Baroque City” is organized around three themes—the city and memory, the city as reliquary, and the city as theater. The teachers believe that by learning to uncover the meaning of Rome students will be equipped with the necessary skills to determine the meaning that could be attached to our own modern cities and communities.

The course is estimated to take between 4-6 weeks to complete. It is self-paced, meaning the student will complete the work on their own schedule, although it is suggested to reserve 4-6 hours of study per week. The course is completely free of charge, so sign up now.

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