2016 Honors in Rome

Art, Identity, and Structures of Exchange in Rome and Italy

Sponsoring Unit: Honors Program, Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Program Dates: June 20 - July 22 (Summer A Term)

The 13th Honors in Rome Program, established in 2002 in partnership with the University of Washington Rome Center

15 credits (onsite in Rome summer)

This program will satisfy the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements:

Course Credits Credit Type
Honors 213 5 Honors Humanities
Honors 384 5 Honors Interdisciplinary
Honors 384 5 Honors Interdisciplinary
Applications due: January 29, 2016

Information Sessions

  • Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m., Mary Gates Hall 206
  • Thursday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m., Mary Gates Hall 206

About the Program

In this program students will study the important phenomenon of benefaction and public patronage in Rome and Italy.

An investigation of the foundational structures of exchange, characterized by extravagant expenditures and concerns with social bonds, prestige and public benefits over personal material gain, will be introduced through seminal works in anthropology, sociology, literature and art that deal with the notion of 'gift' and 'sacrifice'

The city will become our classroom as we explore the paintings and sculptures, churches and palaces commissioned by Rome's noble families. Specifically, we will investigate the motivation behind the lavish spending: Why were certain expenditures made, and how were those who made them seen by the intended audience?

The program is conducted at the Palazzo Pio, the University of Washington's Rome Center, located in the historic center of the city. The palazzo, a fully remodeled seventeenth-century structure that sits on the foundations of the ancient theater of Pompey (55 B.C.), rises next to the Campo de' Fiori, one of Rome's favorite locales, a bustling open market during the day and lively social venue at night.

For more information about the UW Rome Center, see their website at: http://depts.washington.edu/roma/


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

Students in the Honors Program at the University of Washington (first priority to college and interdisciplinary honors, 2nd priority to departmental honors, then students outside of Honors). These students are undergraduates at the UW from a variety of disciplines. The credits will count toward the Honors core. English Department, Comparative Literature, and Art History credits are also possible per preapproval of instructor and department.

The program will require walking on cobblestones and students should be aware of keeping hydrated while on excursions in the city.


Contracts of the Heart: Gift and Sacrifice

HONORS 213 (5 credits, VLPA)

This course will examine one of the most significant innovations accomplished by Renaissance artists: the use of new visual codes to represent the human figure and to reach a faithful imitation of nature as well as persuasive expression of ideas. Drawing on the analysis of Leon Battista Alberti’s influential theory of art as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body, the course will offer a close investigation of exemplary paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints produced in Italy (especially in Rome and Florence) from 1400 to 1600. It will also profile important treatises on anatomy published in Italy in the 15th century, as well as the records of the earliest public dissections of the human body in Padua, Florence, and Rome, thus demonstrating the interplay of art, science and religion from the time of Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian to the age of Caravaggio, Annibale Caracci and Galileo Galilei.

The course will explore in detail examples of artworks present in Rome with weekly visits to the city’s most important monuments, museums and art galleries.

Representations of the Body from Antiquity to the Present

HONORS 384 (5 credits, VLPA)

This seminar will introduce students to concepts of gift and sacrifice, two foundational structures of exchange that have ruled economic, social and religious life since the inception culture. Both raise fundamental questions about the constitution of communities by means of the binding power of gratitude, or, more ominously, sacrificial scapegoats. As a contemporary critic, Mark Osteen, wrote, the study of the gift touches on some of the most fundamental concerns that define our humanity: "freedom and autonomy, calculation and spontaneity, gratitude and generosity, risk and power."

The course will also deal with specifically Roman customs of gift and sacrifice and use the rich resources in Rome, Florence and other cities to document the various representations, especially in Medieval and Renaissance Italian art, of three founding biblical stories of sacrifice: the sacrifice/murder of Abel by Cain, the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, and the sacrifice of Christ.

Honors Independent Research

HONORS 384 (5 credits, VLPA/I&S)

In this course students will offer independent projects on the history, art and artifacts of Italy which will involve site visits. These are group projects presented by four or five students. Students will thus learn how to gather information about a given site and present it to their colleagues in a manner that is concise yet fully informative. This course will also enhance student awareness and practice of collegial collaboration.

Program Staff


Raimonda Modiano, Department of English

Raimonda Modiano is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and co-director of the Program in Textual Studies at the University of Washington. Her numerous grants and honors include teaching awards from the Department of English, the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award (1994) and the University of Washington’s Graduate Mentor Award (2004). Her publications include the book Coleridge and the Concept of Nature (London: Macmillan, 1985) and essays published in journals, as well as The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (2004) and The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth (2014). She has also been co-editor of Coleridge’s marginalia to German works for vols. II-V of the Princeton Edition of Coleridge’s complete works (1984-2000).


Ricardo De Mambro Santos, Department of Art History

Ricardo De Mambro Santos is Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Art History Department at Willamette University. He is an expert in Italian and European Renaissance and Mannerism. He has taught for fourteen years in the Department of Art History at the University of Rome courses on Renaissance Art Literature and Visual Culture as well as classes on Methodologies of Art Criticism. In the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Rome, he has also taught courses on the activity of European painters in India, China and Japan from the sixteenth- to the eighteenth-century. More recently, as a Visiting Professor, he taught at the University of Washington and Whitman College classes on Northern Renaissance, Brazilian visual culture, and theories of art from Neoclassicism to Postmodernism. Professor De Mambro Santos is fluent in nine languages, is the author of numerous books and essays on the art and culture of the Italian and Northern Renaissance and has produced documentaries for Brazilian, Italian and Japanese television. He has also been a curator of many art exhibitions in Italy.


Support Staff

Arendt Speser, Department of English

Arendt Speser earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Haverford College, returning home to the Pacific Northwest for a Ph.D. in English Literature and Language from the University of Washington, with a Certificate in Textual Studies. Enamored with the archive, Arendt’s research focuses on literary culture and production, with a particular eye toward American poetry and poetics. Reading and teaching broadly from the classics through the medieval and into the post-modern, he values composition as a means of introducing students to the humanities. Arendt has published both academic and creative works, and is always eager to engage in spirted conversation and dialogue about topics ranging from the environment to social justice and aesthetics of all sorts. He is an avid hiker and fierce proponent of la dolce vita.


Program Expenses

Program Fee: $5,865

Estimated program fee of $5,865 per student. Program fee does not include the Study Abroad fee ($325), airfare ($1,600-$2,000 round trip, depending on when and where you buy your ticket), food (about $30-50 per day), UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations or personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,600 - $2,000* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $325 July 8, 2016
Program Fee Balance $5,865 July 8, 2016

Financial Aid

Students may use their regular financial aid and scholarship funds for study abroad. The exception is any scholarship in the form of a tuition waiver. Tuition waivers cannot be used to pay study abroad program fees. Check with the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall for more information.

Funding opportunities are available through the Global Opportunities Program (Go! and Fritz Scholarships).  The Office of International Programs and Exchanges maintains a funding opportunities list.

For information on the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program visit:

GET Program Information

and for Financial Aid Questions:

Financial Aid Information

The Study Abroad Refund Policy details out the program withdrawal process.

Housing in Rome

Students will be housed in apartments near the Rome Center.

Application Process

Acceptance to the program will be based on application materials, demonstration of academic excellence, interview with the program directors, and motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures. As representatives of the University of Washington students are expected to behave with respect and appropriate cultural awareness and openness to learn. Learning from members of the host culture, peers, and instructors is expected of all participants.

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, two recommendations from professors or TAs, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.

Applications due: January 29, 2016