Thomas Morton (Swarthmore College)
Over 675 ancient Roman municipal entities are known from across North Africa; however, most of the scholarship is in French, German, and Italian and thus out of reach for most students. The question becomes, how does one engage students with the innovative architecture and urbanism that occurred in this part of the Roman Empire? Partially in response to this question, I created a course entitled Digital Rome in which students create digital reconstructions (primarily in SketchUp) of select Roman cities in North Africa, and try to answer a deceptively simple question, what determines the urban fabric of these ancient cities? Directly connected to my own research, this course examines the ‘individuality within regularity’ of Roman architecture and urbanism. This course was initially designed for students in the architecture program at Arizona State, and the course is now offered in a radically different setting – the art history curriculum at Swarthmore College. At Swarthmore, the library personnel, the Information Technology office, and the Digital Humanities community have become my collaborators for the teaching of this course. This paper assesses the outcomes from teaching Digital Rome at both institutions and how Digital Rome has catapulted my own research forward.
Thus this paper touches upon numerous themes of the conference including: engaging with place and space; combining research and pedagogy at various kinds of academic institutions; and innovative teaching with digital technologies.