Grand Tour


Faculty: John Bailly


“These several remains have been so copiously described by abundance of travelers … that it is very difficult to make any new discoveries on so beaten a subject. There is however so much to be observed in so spacious a field of Antiquities, that it is almost impossible to survey them without taking new hints, and raising different reflections, according as a man’s natural turn of thoughts, or the course of his studies, direct him…”

– Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy

This project requires students to study the past in order to discover their contemporary selves. Just as the founders of the United States looked at Rome as a guide and artists studied the Renaissance for inspiration, students of the Honors College will reflect on their commonalities and differences with classical and Renaissance culture. Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, stated, “According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman.”

The nature of student reflection must be broad and profound, and not exclusively personal. Students should address connections in society and culture across time. This project should not be a diary.

The Honors College is interdisciplinary in nature and welcomes new approaches to course projects.

Students will form 6 groups of 3 students.  Each group will be assigned one section of each respective city.  Groups will have the duration of the stay to explore.  Student groups must explore the history, culture, location, contemporary people of their respective location/institution. 

The format the Grand Tour takes is open: fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry, drawing, painting, film, sculpture, collage, photography, or other means. The final product, however, must be submitted digitally. Students should gather information and impressions in the manner they wish. The nature of these can also be varied, as each student forms a unique perspective. The final product, however, must be submitted digitally.

If making a film, existing images may be appropriated, but they must be altered in some manner. For example, the work must be heavily edited heavily or distorted it in some manner. Actors, editors and/or other film crew may be recruited, under the condition that the student retain the role of director. The film must be the student’s ideas and he/she must oversee every aspect of it, but responsibilities must be delegated.

Films and slideshows must be uploaded onto the Internet, on Facebook or Youtube (free). Please make sure to test your upload prior to attending class. 

Similar to a research paper, all sources must be cited for a film project. If you uitlize an exisiting film for inspiration or incorporate clips or pictures from someone else, you cite those sources in your film credits. Failure to do is plagiarism.

These following factors will be considered in determining the project grade.

Familiarity with subject
The nature of the connection between student and subject
The broader context of the student’s reflection (Can others relate to the points made in the project)
Originality of content

The following are suggested topics and questions students may explore. The inquiry should include, but not be limited, to these. The topics below primarily list the United States for comparison, but other countries may be used.

(Many of these questions are copied directly from the National Constitution Center’s guide “Ancient Rome & America: The Classical Influence That Shaped Our Nation.”)

Are we Rome?
Will America’s rise to world leadership last for a thousand years? 
Or will our nation come to ruin, like the great Empire of ancient Rome?
How is Roman civic structure a model for the United States (or another country)? How is it different? 
Compare a Roman’s loyalty to Rome to an American’s to the US. What does it mean to be a citizen? What should a citizen expect from the state and visa versa.
What parallels exist between Rome and the US in foreign relations?
Many of the founding fathers found individual characters to identify with (Cincinnatus and Washington). Which do you identify with? Why?
How does Roman religion compare with contemporary notions?
What lessons and symbols of Rome would be beneficial to contemporary society?
Are Americans today willing to sacrifice their individual interests for the common good?
Do Americans have a sense of unity and common purpose?
What brings Americans together? What pulls them apart?

“We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons.” – George Washington

The Renaissance placed the human at the center of thought and experience. How has this impacted your view of the world?
Compare Renaissance objective beauty with contemporary subjectivity. 
Renaissance scholars and artists strove to understand the surrounding world, rather than focus on an abstract, spiritual world. How has this changed? How has this not changed?
Is there a contemporary parallel to Galileo’s trial? 
Several Renaissance figures placed personal excellence above all, including relations with other people. 
Venice and Florence were ruled by secular states. How has this influenced the modern world?
Venetians placed trade above all. Some historians associate the rise of capitalism with Venice.

“Painters are not in any way unsociable through pride, but either because they find few pursuits equal to painting, or in order not to corrupt themselves with the useless conversation of idle people, and debase the intellect from the lofty imaginations in which they are always absorbed.” Michelangelo

These are to be claimed on the class discussion board.

Please refer to the following page for the Roman Quatieri

Mercado Centrale
Piazza della Repubblica
Santa Croce
Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazza della Signoria

Cinque Terre
Monterosso al Mare
Via dell’Amore or any other section of the Cinque Terre trail

Venezia (Sestieri)
San Marco East (east of Rio S. Moise, Rio de l’Barcaroli, Rio de S. Luca)
San Marco West (west of Rio S. Moise, Rio de l’Barcaroli, Rio de S. Luca)
San Polo
Santa Croce