Greece and Italy: An Artistic and Literary Odyssey

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Fall 2017, Winter 2018, and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

visual arts, art history, photography
classical art and literature

Classical Greece and Renaissance Italy made among the Western world's most extraordinary contributions to the written word and the visual arts. These accomplishments continue to captivate artists and thinkers, giving them models and standards to admire, emulate, struggle against, or reject—but rarely to ignore. We will study the texts and monuments of ancient Greece, from the Bronze Age to the Roman period, and Italy, especially Florence, from the 13th through the 16th centuries. We will read authors including Homer, Sappho, Aeschylus, Dante, and Petrarch; artists we study will include Pheidias, Praxiteles, Giotto, and Michelangelo. Throughout the program, we will also learn about modern rediscoveries and reinterpretations of these periods, culminating in our own journey to Greece and Italy.

In fall, we will investigate the rise of the Greek polis, or city-state, from the ashes of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, as well as that of the Etruscans in what is now Tuscany. In addition to reading primary source materials, we will study the surviving architecture, sculpture, painting, and pottery.  Students will have the option of studying ancient Greek language, learning drawing, or learning photography. In winter, our focus will be on the Roman appropriation of Greek art and thought and the later Florentine rediscovery and interpretation of the Classical past. We’ll study how the Italians drew on the ideas of classical literature and learning as the basis for revolutions both in artistic practices and the conception of humanity. Greek students will continue learning the language, while the photography and drawing students will choose between the basics of black-and-white photography and art history. In spring, some students will travel to Greece and Italy for six weeks to visit, study, and hold seminars in sites and cities synonymous with the Classical world and the Renaissance. The first four weeks will be in Greece, where we will start in Crete, focusing our attention on the Minoan civilization. Next, we will travel through mainland Greece, visiting numerous sites including Athens, Corinth, Olympia, and Delphi. The final weeks will be spent in Italy, using Florence as our main base but making side trips to nearby sites and cities, such as Siena. Alternatively, students can enhance their learning locally and continue to develop their skills in art history and photography.

Throughout the program, students will interpret the texts and monuments in essays, and their mastery of the historical contexts and artistic styles will be strengthened and assessed in written exams. While in Greece and Italy, we will maintain academic travel journals in which we synthesize our on-campus learning with the experiences in country. Upon returning, students will prepare presentations to share their discoveries.


Fall Open Winter Signature Spring Closed

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Study Abroad

Students participating in the six-week study abroad component of Greece and Italy in spring quarter should expect to pay an additional fee of approximately $4,000–$4,500 (depending upon currency valuation). This fee does not include airfare or most food in Italy (students will have kitchens), but does include travel within and between the two countries, lodging, breakfast in Greece, and entrance fees to museums and archaeological sites. A deposit of $200 is due by December 1, 2017. For details on study abroad, visit or contact Michael Clifthorne at .

Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 9am (Com 107-Recital Hall)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

Special Expenses

Approximately $138 for art supplies each quarter.

May be offered again in