Interdisciplinary spring course will bring students to Italy

After a hiatus of several years, the course “Reading the Italian Medieval & Renaissance City”, cross-listed with the departments of Italian, Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS), Visual Arts and History, is once again being offered this spring. Ernesto Virgulti, Director of the MARS Centre, will be teaching 30 students for three weeks at Brock, and then will take them to Italy for another two weeks.

“I’m very happy with the great response; there seems to be a lot of interest in the course,” said Virgulti.

Virgulti first created the course ten years ago, with a colleague taking over the course for a few years. However, the course has not run for a few years now, and students have been asking to have it offered again.

“I wanted to do it after my first year, but then it was canceled, so I’ve been really pushing to have it back,” said Annika Mazzarella, a third-year MARS and Visual Arts double major, who is enrolled in the course.

The first half of the course will teach students about the historical and geographical background of Italian cities. The class will then fly out on May 28, and will stay in Rome, Assisi, Florence and Siena.

While in Italy, mornings will be dedicated to site and museum visits and lecture sessions, followed by seminars in the afternoon. Students will also be giving presentations in front of the site or art piece that they have chosen for their topic.

“I tried to balance things out to cover all areas,” said Virgulti. “I find things of interest to the students so that they will get the most of the study tour.”

In Florence, for example, participating Visual Art students will have the chance to meet and talk with two artists from the Niagara region who are now living in Italy.

Mazzarella is looking forward to the opportunity of seeing the works of arts that she’s studied in her classes with her own eyes.

“I’m excited to experience the real thing; it’ll be like going back in time,” said Mazzarella. “It’ll be practical experience for the subject matter that I’m learning right now and I’ll get more out of the classroom.”

Mazzarella would like to pursue a career as an art curator or art historian, so she is hoping to be inspired by the trip to focus on her future career plans and to start more traveling around the world.

Virgulti would like to see more course opportunities like these offered to students. He states they can represent the experience of a lifetime for students and thinks that there should be more support, specifically financial, available to students.

“These are legitimate courses with academic value, but the reason why we don’t have more programs like them is because of the financial issue,” said Virgulti. “We need more financial support from the institution itself.”

Students in the course will be creating a final visual project which will be put on display for the Brock community sometime at the beginning of the next school year in September.

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