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SU professors receive NEH grant to teach summer seminar in Venice on shaping civic space in Renaissance city
SU professors receive NEH grant to teach summer seminar in Venice on shaping civic space in Renaissance cityDecember 06, 2005Jaime Winne Alvarez firstname.lastname@example.org
Syracuse University professors Gary Radke and Dennis Romano have received a grant of $131,867 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to teach a five-week seminar for 15 college and university instructors in Venice, Italy. “Shaping Civic Space in a Renaissance City: Venice c.1300 to c.1600,” will examine the ways in which Renaissance contemporaries experienced and represented urban life. The seminar will run from June 12-July 14, 2006.
Radke, professor of fine arts in The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), and Romano, professor of history in A&S and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, will serve as seminar directors.
“We’re excited about the opportunity provided by the NEH to bring together a group of teachers and scholars from a variety of disciplinary, geographical and institutional backgrounds in order to think deeply and creatively about the ways in which humans interacted with the built environment in a Renaissance city,” says Radke. “We know that this will be an exciting and intellectually engaging experience for all of us-one that will enrich both our research and teaching.”
The seminar will place participants in and around the streets, canals, houses, churches and public buildings of Renaissance Venice in order to understand how individuals and groups interacted in urban spaces and to chart how civic spaces shaped human behavior. Participants will, in essence, reanimate the city.
“We intend to bring together a group of historians, art historians, musicologists, architectural historians and specialists in Italian literature in order to considerthe interplay of humans with their built environment, to see both people and spaces as actors in a Renaissance city,” says Romano.
Radke and Romano have designed the seminar to promote an interdisciplinary approach to the subject. As project directors, the two bring different areas of interest and expertise to the study of Renaissance Venice.
Radke’s interest in examining the function and animation of urban space in Renaissance cities arises out of his early studies of the 13th-century papal palace at Viterbo, where he examined ceremonial life and bureaucratic organization at the papal court as keys to understanding the palace’s form and function. Recently, he has turned his attention to the patronage of nuns in Renaissance Venice and the convent of San Zaccaria, placing particular emphasis on how religious women used and shaped their physical environment.
Romano has been interested in issues of urbanism and social interaction, having studied both the notion of neighborhood and community in 14th-century Venice and the domestic life of masters and servants in 15th- and 16th-century Venice. He is currently writing a biography of one of the doges of Venice, using the doge’s architectural projects as important interpretive keys to his reign.
Participants will meet three days a week for five weeks. Each week will be devoted to a different topic or theme, including “The Urban Context,” “The Place of Business and the Economy,” “Locating the Sacred” and “The Places of Daily Life.” The last week will be devoted to presentations by seminar participants.
Daily sessions will combine not only classroom discussion of select primary and secondary readings, but also site visits to locations so that participants may examine the spaces they will consider in documents and readings. Site visits include San Marco and the Ducal Palace, the churches of the Redentore and San Zaccaria, the Ghetto and the Naval Museum, the confraternities of San Giovanni Evangelista and San Rocco, and the museum of the Venetian Renaissance house Ca d’Oro.
Participants will also take a day trip to the island of Torcello to consider early development of the Venetian lagoon and at the end of week two will make anovernight trip to Padua, Asolo and Palladio’s Villa Barbaro at Maser to consider the relationship of Venice to its terraferma (mainland) territories. The first part of the Padua journey will be by boat up the Brenta Canal.
“It is important to note that as the seminar leaders we see our role as facilitators, and we look forward to the fresh eyes and insights that each member of the seminar will bring to the documents and to the site visits,” says Romano.
Since this is a seminar, participants will also be engaged in an independent research project that falls under the rubric of shaping civic space in Renaissance Venice. During their time in Venice, they will carry out their research projects using the wealth of resources available and calling on the assistance of seminar directors as needed.
The one absolute requirement for seminar participants is a strong reading knowledge of Italian, and some facility with speaking. “A strong reading knowledge is essential because the majority of the primary sources for discussion are in Italian and participants are expected to work independently using the libraries and archives of the city,” says Radke.
Seminar participants will have access to non-circulating library resources of the Querini-Stampalia Foundation in Campo Santa Maria Formosa and will also receive reading privileges at the Archivio di Stato and the Biblioteca Marciana. They may also use the art historical libraries of the Museo Correr or the Cini Foundation. They will receive a stipend of $3,600 prior to going overseas to help defray travel and living costs.
In order to be considered for the program, interested parties must submit a completed application, including essay, postmarked no later than March 1, 2006. The NEH has extended the deadline for individuals and institutions affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma to March 15, 2006. These extensions apply only to individuals and institutions in counties that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated as disaster areas.
For more information about “Shaping Civic Space in a Renaissance City,”visit http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/hist/shaping_civic/.