AAR’s Classical Summer School Offers Educators and Students a Journey through Roman History and Literature

Color photograph of an ancient Roman house with a geometric wall mural painted with browns and yellows
The faux-marble hall in the Archaeological Complex of Roman Houses on the Caelian Hill in Rome (photograph © Konstantinos Papaioannou and licensed through Dreamstime)

AAR’s Classical Summer School, which recently turned one hundred, provides schoolteachers, college and university instructors, and graduate students with direct and site-based instruction on the history of the city of Rome and its surroundings. In the words of former CSS participant and 2007 Fellow Lisa Marie Mignone, “There’s simply no way to engage in the history of the city without being in the city, and few programs offer anything comparable to the AAR’s Classical Summer School.”

With the deadline to apply to the 2024 Classical Summer School fast approaching—on Friday, February 23—AAR spoke to new Classical Summer School Director Evan Jewell (2023 Fellow) about the continued value of the program, and what participants can expect this year.

What are you looking forward to as director of the Classical Summer School?

Rome has so many things to offer, and people often arrive—especially if it’s their first time to the city—with a certain set of expectations, but the city and so many of the sites we will visit will confound those expectations. I’m looking forward to that process of surprise and revelation, and also growth. I’m looking forward to having conversations and workshopping ideas that participants can apply in their research, and especially in their pedagogy. How can they use their experience to make ancient Rome come alive for their students in new and invigorating ways?

Why do you think the Classical Summer School is still relevant today?

At a time when the humanities, including classics, are increasingly under threat from various pressures, the CSS represents one way that teachers can be equipped to confront those challenges and foreground the ancient world’s relevance in the classroom—from tangibility of lived, ancient lives and identities, to the reception of ancient Rome in later periods, including its staying power and the perils inherent in that. If some men in America apparently think about the Roman empire five times a day, why is that and where does it come from? And how can CSS participants channel interest in ancient Rome into productive, historically informed avenues? Being in Rome, having on-the-ground experience, and testing out these ideas with me and their peers will, I think, be a galvanizing experience and might instill a sense of shared authority over the Roman past upon their return to their own unique American contexts.

Will you be bringing your experience as a Rome Prize Fellow to the program?

As a Rome Prize Fellow, I rediscovered the importance of intellectual community and hope this can be cultivated among the CSS participants, as well as between the CSS and the wider AAR community, whether it be through joint site visits and workshops, or table talk. I want to ensure that CSS participants feel part of the AAR community, and even the broader intellectual community in Rome, so I am looking to create multiple opportunities for that to happen.

During my time in Rome, I came to value walking the city—gaining a familiarity with its topography, its contours, landmarks, and the many interventions that have given it the shape we see today. That familiarization of the city—even as it will become unfamiliar to them in other ways—is something I hope CSS participants will acquire and use, for example, should they run their own study abroad to Rome one day.

Can you give us any teasers on any activities 2024 Classical Summer School participants can look forward to?

Well, I’m excited about many things, but I can’t deny the excitement of a new museum. The recently opened Museum of the Forma Urbis (Museo della Forma Urbis)—which showcases fragments from the marble plan of Rome from the Severan period—and the Archaeological Park on the Caelian Hill represent amazing opportunities for us. These sites are part of one aspect of the programming that I’m keen to adopt, which is a neighborhood approach on some days during the schedule—including a whole day on the Caelian Hill—as we focus on the local, urban configurations of the city (when available) and how different inhabitants might have operated and navigated through the space of the city and its changing form over several centuries.

Apply to the 2024 Classical Summer School by February 23.

Press inquiries

Andrew Mitchell

Director of Communications

212-751-7200, ext. 342

a.mitchell [at] aarome.org (a[dot]mitchell[at]aarome[dot]org)

Maddalena Bonicelli

Rome Press Officer

+39 335 6857707

m.bonicelli.ext [at] aarome.org (m[dot]bonicelli[dot]ext[at]aarome[dot]org)