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Trip to Florence by ACM Faculty Will Enrich Students' Curriculum

Published: October 19, 2011

Students will hear a variety of lectures and six ACM faculty will get an insider's view of the Florence Program during the inaugural Faculty Site Visit next week on October 24-28.

Update: See photos of the Faculty Site Visit to Florence taken by Lawrence professors John Shimon and Julie Lindemann.

The visit is part of ACM's new professional development program designed to familiarize faculty with consortial off-campus programs and enable them to make contacts and share their expertise with staff and students at ACM's program sites around the world.

Each of the professors will spend three days in Florence, where they can sample the courses, learn about the program's resources and curriculum, meet the faculty and staff, and give an academic presentation to the students.

Florence is the site of three programs for students – the fall semester Florence: Arts, Humanities, & Culture, the spring semester London & Florence: Arts in Context, and the winter quarter/trimester Florence: Arts in Context.

It will certainly be a busy week for the 29 students who are currently in Florence, according to Program Director Jodie Mariotti, as many of them will want to attend the visiting professors' lectures as well as keep up with their regular coursework.

View of Florence

View of Florence.

Photo courtesy of Kellie Griffin

"I've tried to make the visit part of the curriculum," said Mariotti, noting that several of the guests' presentations will be paired with classes and take place on-site in the city's historic churches, galleries, and museums. "It's great to have experts on subjects that are related to and at the same time differ from the courses. It should be a very enriching experience for students and professors."

For example, a trip to the Archaeological Museum will include a lecture by Cornell College classics professor John Gruber-Miller on the François Vase, a Greek masterwork dating to 570 b.c.e., named after the Florentine archaeologist of French origin who discovered it in 1844 in an Etruscan tomb in the Fonte Rotella necropolis of Chiusi. "He's going to focus on that one vase," Mariotti said. "It's an extraordinary piece depicting mythological cycles and Homeric heroes."

Music professor Sarah Kraaz from Ripon College, an expert on historic keyboard instruments, will give her talk at the Accademia Gallery, a magnet for tourists who go there to see Michelangelo's statue, David. Beyond the crowds, though, is a whole wing of the museum that houses musical instruments.

"The collection originates from instruments within the Medici and Lorraine collections," Mariotti explained. "The most important nucleus of instruments belonged to the Grand Prince Ferdinando de' Medici. He promoted the construction of keyboard instruments that led to the invention of the pianoforte by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence, so early keyboard instruments are well represented in the museum. The curators have made a point of juxtaposing the musical instruments with paintings from the period – fragmentary glimpses of the once rich collection and life of musicians and musical instruments within the Medici court and collections."

Gail Solberg teaching

Gail Solberg teaching a class on-site in Florence.

Along with the courses on art history and literature of the Renaissance, the visiting faculty can sit in on an Italian language class at the Linguaviva institute and see the students in a drawing class at the Charles H. Cecil Studios, the most historic Florentine atelier still in active use.

There will also be an opportunity to tag along with students in instructor Gail Solberg's class, "Art in Context: Florentine Decorative Complexes, 1300-1450," on a tour of the restoration of frescoes at the Basilica of Santa Croce.

"They have a reservation to climb up on the scaffolding in the high altar chapel to see Agnolo Gaddi's 'Legend of the True Cross' now being restored," Mariotti said. "The professors may have to draw straws to be able to get up there with the students, because the maximum you can have is 15 people at one time. It's very interesting."

Although the schedule is packed, it won't be all work and no play for the students and visiting professors. It's Florence, after all, so "they'll have some time each day to take a break and get a cappuccino," said Mariotti. Lunches and snack breaks are also being planned to allow for informal conversation.

Participating faculty and their presentation topics:

  • John Gruber-Miller, Professor of Classics at Cornell College, will lead a class session on the Francois Vase at the Archaeological Museum.
  • In conjunction with a class trip to the San Marco Convent, Anna Trumbore Jones (Associate Professor of History, Lake Forest College) will give an on-site talk about medieval religious spirituality and ethics.
  • Art historian Andrea Kann (Assistant Professor of Art, Coe College) plans to discuss the plunder, destruction, and preservation of art in Italy during World War II and how historical objects and places accrue new meanings still tightly linked to their original contexts.
  • At the Accademia Gallery, Sarah Kraaz (Professor of Music and Organist of the College, Ripon College) will talk about historic keyboard instruments and depictions of musicians in paintings.
  • Julie Lindemann and John Shimon, Assistant Professors of Art who share a joint appointment at Lawrence University, will present a workshop on digital photography.

 

The ACM Faculty Site Visits Program was established this year to familiarize faculty at ACM colleges with the consortial off-campus study programs. The program sponsors a trip for a group of 3-5 faculty each semester to one of the program sites, which include Chicago, Botswana, Tanzania, Costa Rica, India, Italy, and the U.K.

ACM faculty who are tenured, tenure-track, or in other continuing appointments may apply for the program, and preference will be given to applicants not already familiar with the program being visited. ACM covers expenses for transportation, lodging, and meals.

The spring 2012 Faculty Site Visit will be to the Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies. See the Call for Applications for more information. The application deadline is November 1.


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