Retrospective on teaching 1968-2019

In 1968-69, prior to entry into the field of art history, my first courses were in Latin and Greek at the Boston Latin School, with a senior class on Euripides' Bacchae.

My first course in art history, on Italian Renaissance architecture, was given as a graduate student instructor at Harvard during the 1974-75 sabbatical of my Doktorvater, James Ackerman. I made every slide and wrote out every word longhand, something that that the Bok Center, had it been in existence at the time, would have told me never to do. At Chicago (1975-80) and then at Columbia (1980-2001) I developed a pair of core courses, Italian Renaissance Architecture, which went from the medieval communes up to Michelangelo, and Italian Baroque Architecture, which went from Michelangelo through the Roman greats to the work of Guarini, Juvarra and Vittone in Piedmont and the new towns of the Val di Noto in Sicily. The Chicago influence was strong in my course on American Architecture from Richardson to Wright and important for my small book on Wright’s Robie House. As was expected I taught in, and eventually ran, the Columbia core course called Art Humanities. Other courses there included The Early Modern European City, the Renaissance Garden, Reading and Architecture in the Early Modern Library, Paris and Rome in the 17th Century, the Classical Tradition in Architecture, and Palace Culture in Early Modern Europe. An undergraduate methods course read all of the work of Erwin Panofsky available in English. Avery Library was an especially propitious place to give a seminar on Piranesi, which many years later left its mark on my book on the Ichnographia of the Campus Martius. It was probably the large numbers of students in my Introduction to Architecture, and I like to think the enthusiasm, that led to the President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2001.

Two administrative positions represented long breaks in teaching. The first, as director of the American Academy in Rome from 1988 to 1992, allowed some compressed teaching at Columbia and in Rome. However, the directorship of Villa I Tatti in Florence from 2002 to 2010, though fascinating in many ways, left little time for teaching. Thus I am grateful that it has been possible to make up for lost time in the classroom in these past few years (2011-19) at Harvard.

Here I have concentrated on undergraduate teaching. Rome Eternal City was a  monument-oriented history of Rome from the beginning to the edge of the present millennium. I taught Bernini and Borromini in Harvard College but also a graduate lecture course on Baroque Architecture in the GSD, where I attempted to cover Europe and stretch as far as Russia and Goa. It was demanding but I have seldom crammed so much new learning and so much geography into one semester. I taught Baroque Art several times to mid-size undergraduate audiences, covering painting from Caravaggio and the Carracci to Rembrandt and Vermeer with art in Paris, Versailles, London and Madrid on the way. My Freshman seminar was on the Harvard campus as a microcosm of American Architecture. In 2014 and 2019 I offered an undergraduate seminar on the Vatican, including St. Peter’s, the Renaissance palace, the Counter-Reformation library and the museum, spanning an arc of time from the fourth to the twentieth century. My undergraduate tutorials have been on Vitruvius, early modern cartography, and the history and workings of the Fogg Museum. I ran HAA 11, Landmarks of World Architecture, for four years, 2016-19, coordinating guest professors from around the university and giving between a third and half of the lectures myself.* There have been three occasions to travel to Italy with Harvard students. The Sophomore Seminar of 2012 (with Iole Kalavrezou) went to Rome for two weeks in May. A seminar on Venice, which began with hydrology and urban history and moved to Renaissance architecture and (all too briefly) Venetian painting, went to the Serenissima over spring break in 2016.** My last seminar before retirement concentrated on the Vatican and was able to study it on site during the spring break of 2019.

Bibliographies in the fields covered by some of these courses are posted on this site.


*Lectures in HAA 11 Landmarks:
Stone: types, construction, meaning
The Forum of Augustus in Rome
The Pantheon in Rome
Old St. Peter’s and the Basilica Tradition
Hagia Sophia
Chartres Cathedral
Michelangelo and St. Peter’s
The Dome from Wren to Washington D.C.
The Taj Mahal
Copley Square: Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, Hancock Tower
Frank Lloyd Wright: Robie House and Fallingwater

**Venice course trip itinerary March 2016