Italy: See Naples and Die: Panorama & the Poetics of City
6 credits (LDAR-W625/LAS-W725)
Vedi Napoli e poi muori ("See Naples and then die") was a common expression, echoed most famously on his grand tour by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, to identify Naples as the most naturally and artistically beautiful city in the world; so beautiful that one needn't look upon anything else after seeing it. Few cities embody the Empedoclean elementality of Naples: situated in a volcanic landscape dominated by Mount Vesuvius, beside an enormous bay and natural harbor that opens onto the Tyrrhenian Sea under an endless sky, it marks a dramatic convergence of earth, wind, water and fire. The art, literature, history, politics and economics of Naples are equally "elemental" in the way that their constitutive and conflicting cultural forces are manifest in a dynamic, frequently paradoxical system of social relations. Students will engage this compelling city and its environment through the twinned graphic practices of drawing and writing, with particular attention given to the mediums of panoramic landscape, scientific illustration, philosophical speculation and fictional narrative. The LAS component of the course will survey literary discourses from antiquity to the present that imagine Naples and its environment. Readings (in English translation) will consist of selections by Virgil, Pliny (Elder and Younger), Livy, Tomasso Campanella, Giambattista Vico, Giacomo Leopardi, Matilde Serao and Walter Benjamin. The primary texts around which the course will be built are Susan Sontag's Volcano Lover, Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah, and contemporary Neapolitan noir fiction. Students will have read and written on Volcano Lover before convening in Naples, after which work will commence on a term project produced in tandem with travel and studio projects.
Permission of Instructor required. Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of Experimental & Foundation Studies.
2019WS Estimated Travel Cost: $1,921.00 - airfare not included. Updated costs will be available in October prior to the travel semester.