LAN305: The Eternal City – The Poetics and Politics of Space and Language from Paganism to Christianity

Key details

Unit typeElective unit
Credit points6
Indicative contact hoursSee below
Offered inSee below
Tuition feeVisit www.campion.edu.au/tuition


This unit focuses on the study of the city of Rome as a space of social activity and cultural exchange from its foundation to the advent and spread of Christianity. The course traces the evolution in the function and meaning of the Urbs (city) through an examination of key public spaces (most of which are now regarded ‘archaeological sites’) and monuments, and the analysis of relevant literary texts in Latin from the III century B.C. to the IV century AD. The course explores the relationship between space, power and politics in the city of Rome from its foundation in the VIII century B.C. to its transformation in Late Antiquity. Contrary to conventional approaches which tend to conceptualise space and architecture as reflections of dominant political and economic discourses or forces, this course considers them as forces shaping the daily life of individuals. Hence the built environment contains for the historian a complex repertoire of often conflicting narratives meandering across time.


The unit is based on field learning as it includes excursions to relevant sites of historical significance and is delivered in intensive mode over a three week period in Rome.

Campion’s Rome School runs every two years, subject to demand.

Learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable students to:

a) Demonstrate an understanding of the problems connected with the study of the ancient world.
b) Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelation and interaction between various ancient cultures (Roman, Etruscan, Italic and Greek) in the conceptualisation and definition of space and of the ways the Romans understood and conceptualised the categories of ‘space’ and ‘place’, and of ‘public’ and ‘private’.
c) Demonstrate an understanding of the shifting function and meaning of ‘public space’ in Rome from VIII century B.C. to IV century A.D.
d) Explain and apply key concepts of social-spatial theories examined during the course and assess their strength & limitations in relation to the study of ancient built environments.
e) Demonstrate an awareness of the relation between language and power, and language and conceptualisations of space.
f) Demonstrate an understanding of the evolution of the Latin language in the development of the Roman literary tradition, and of the ‘text variety’ (i.e. relation of language and its social environment; literary genre; author’s style; etc.) of the Latin language.
g) Demonstrate a capacity to use personal experience and examples to critically assess the theoretical concepts examined in the course
h) Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate the nature of the textual traditions and the problems connected with their transmission, reception and translation
i) Demonstrate ability to use a wide range of primary sources (in their original language) in reconstructing events and processes of the ancient world.
j) Demonstrate the ability to engage in independent research and to critically evaluate conflicting scholarship.
k) Demonstrate the ability to think logically, critically analyse situations, and design responsible solutions to problems
l) Effectively and confidently participate in group work and tutorial events and to contribute with clarity and coherence.
m) Be able to write well argued and well structured essays and appropriately use references and bibliographies according to academic conventions.


Knowledge of Latin at an intermediate level as the course focuses primarily on the reading and analysis of texts in Latin. (e.g LAN203)

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