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Mapping Rome : Site Reports
Introduction Objectives Site list Milestones

In Exploring Rome students will present on sites — places, structures or objects — iconic to the Eternal City. In Mapping Rome students will prepare by adopting their site, researching it, and giving a practice presentation prior to departure.

   The ideal presentation will be 15–20 minutes in length and tell the story of the site, from its origins and function to its survival and use in later centuries.


This assignment is intended to

  • provide an opportunity for independent research;

  • cultivate public speaking skills;

  • help determine our itinerary while in Rome; and

  • foster peer-to-peer teaching and learning.
Site list

The following sites will be researched over the course of the term and, ultimately, be presented in Rome. Some are ancient, some modern.

Mentor: Curley

  • Ara Pacis (Federico)
  • Arch of Constantine (Kiernan)
  • Columns of Trajan / M. Aurelius (Ziomek)
  • Horologium of Augustus (Miller)
  • Porta Maggiore / Baker's Tomb (Robinson)
  • Porticus of Octavia (Bernstein)
  • Protestant Cemetery / Pyramid (Holthaus)
  • Temple of Vesta / Vestals' House (Conde)
  • Temple of Venus & Roma (Graubart)
  • Via Appia Antica (MacKinnon)

Mentor: Spinner

  • Basilica of S. Sabina (Fairchild)
  • Monument to V. Emanuele II (Maeder)
  • Piazza Campo de' Fiori (Bowling)
  • Piazza del Popolo (McCutcheon)
  • Piazza di Spagna / Spanish Steps (Hernandez)
  • Piazza Navona (Capalbo)
  • Piazza San Pietro (Griffin)
  • Talking Statues of Rome (Blunt)
  • Tiber Island (Cane)
  • Trevi Fountain (Harripersad)

This is a term-long effort involving careful research, reading, and note-taking in consultation with the instructors, who will serve as mentors. To ensure that students have enough material, mentors will help negotiate information into and out of presentations.

   Research materials will be placed on reserve in Scribner Library. With few exceptions, online sources are generally less reliable and less thorough than the books on reserve. As the semester progresses, students will develop their presentations, moving them from outlines, to annotated bibliographies, to dry runs.

   During finals week, students will give 15–20 minute dry runs of their presentations in front of their mentors, just as if they were on site.

   Please note the following due dates carefully. Work may be turned in in person or submitted as email attachments — PDFs only, please! Students will receive feedback after each milestone.

Friday, February 1

An in-class review of the project guidelines, and a chance to ask the big questions before getting started.

Site selections
Saturday, February 9, 11:00 p.m.

Choose three (3) sites from the list that you would like to present on and rank them, top choice first. Consult the Blue Guide as necessary.

   Write a paragraph on each site, stating both why you would like to work on it and what unique perspectives you feel you would bring.

   Profs. Curley and Spinner will consider your selections and hopefully approve one of your top three.

   FORMAT: Submit a typed and double-spaced PDF with numbered pages and one-inch margins.

Research resources
Week of February 25

Attend an instructional session on key reference works in Scribner Library, hosted by our Program Assistant. Sign-up sheets will be circulated the week before.

Annotated bibliography
Saturday, March 30, 11:00 p.m.

A list of at least seven (7) secondary sources, listed in a standard bibliographic format, that have proven helpful to understanding your topic.

   Each entry must be accompanied by useful bullet-points indicating the specific facts about your site derived from that source. Aim for at least three bullet points per source; more are better.

   Make sure that your bullet points comprise information to be included in your report. If your points are about the source rather than your site, rewrite them or leave them out.

   Some questions to consider as you review the scholarship and take notes:

  • What is the date and origin of the site? If it has undergone physical change over time, what are those changes?

  • What notable events occurred at or around this site? Does its current function differ from its original function?

  • What are some strategies for reading or decoding the site? What messages does it send to spectators?

  • How is the site uniquely Roman? What Roman memories does it hold or evoke?

   FORMAT: Submit a typed and double-spaced PDF with numbered pages and one-inch margins.

Saturday, April 20, 11:00 p.m.

An outline of your report in which you lay out the information you expect your presentation to include. Be detailed and specific: think of this as a working script. You should keep your old bullet-points, if they have passed muster, and add new ones since the previous milestone.

   Include an unannotated bibliography at the end of your outline. Using either parenthetical citations or footnotes, make references to your bibliography in your outline. A full reference gives the author(s), year, and page number(s), like so: Stambaugh 1988, 133.

   FORMAT: Submit a typed and double-spaced PDF with numbered pages and one-inch margins.

Outline meetings
Week of April 22

Meet face-to-face with your mentor to receive feedback on your outline, as well as advice and reminders about your practice presentation during finals week. Sign-up sheets will be circulated the week before.

Practice presentation
Week of May 6

During finals week, give a 15–20 minute dry run of your presentation in front of your mentor, just as if you were on site. Your presentation will account for the bulk of your site report grade in CC 265, with some consideration given to your performance in previous milestones. This will be your final opportunity to receive feedback on your topic before heading to Rome.

CONTENT. Good content is key to a successful presentation. Develop it by converting your outline into a list of talking points, either on paper or a series of 3x5 cards, whichever you prefer. Your talking points are NOT what you will say verbatim to your audience. Rather, they are reminders of the concepts you will put into words during your presentation. Look at them while you present, and formulate what you want to say.

   You should of course have the most essential whos, whens, and whys of your topic committed to memory, because your presentation in Rome will challenge you logistically as you move around, point things out, speak into a microphone, and consult your list of talking points. But the list itself is a prompt, not a script.

   Your talking points should delineate the story of your topic from its earliest beginnings into the modern era. But they need not tell the entire story in painstaking detail. Too much detail will cause your presentation to run long or disengage your audience. Practicing your presentation (see below) will tell you which talking points are essential and which can stay on another sheet of paper to be consulted if someone asks a complicated question.

   Finally, your presentation should conclude with you situating your topic within the Roman cityscape. That is, state how your site fits into the larger story of Rome.

PRACTICE AND DELIVERY. You should rehearse your presentation out loud several times before your session with your mentor. First, rehearsal will familiarize you with your own narrative and make your talking points easier to negotiate. Second, as noted above, it will help you determine which points need to be reported, and which can be reserved for question and answer. Third, it will help you get your timing down: 15–20 minutes of continuous, engaging material.

   One of your later rehearsals should be in front of a good friend. They will be able to tell you whether you are talking too quickly or too slowly and to help you identify any other tics or issues that detract from your presentation.

   An engaging presentation has a consistent and lively delivery. Consistency means that you have a sense of where your presentation is going and that you are delivering the material with confidence throughout. A sure sign of uneven preparation is a presentation that peters out at the end, becoming too vague or jumbled, or veering off-topic. Liveliness comes from speaking with expression, making eye contact, and not reading talking points verbatim.

   One common engagement technique is to ask questions of your audience: "What do we remember about X?" "Who can tell my why A did B?" "What do details D, E, and F look like to you?" Such questions have the advantage of drawing your listeners in and inviting their participation. They also pad out your presentation's running time a little. However, too many questions take the focus off you, the presenter, and the information you're trying to get across, and they make it seem like you're stalling for time.


  • A copy of your talking points on paper (even if you're using 3x5 cards) so your mentor can follow and annotate your presentation.

  • A handout, which should contain (1) a minimalist version of your talking points, the most basic ideas reduced to key words; (2) any helpful illustrations, such as a site plan or a reconstruction; and (3) an unannotated bibliography of all the works you have consulted. The handout should be no more than 2 pages total (i.e., two sides of paper). The handouts will be collated into a booklet that everyone will use on site in Rome. For more details, please consult the Handout on Handouts.

   Your mentor will comment on your delivery, talking points, and handout and perhaps request changes on some or all of them. Above all, you will leave the meeting on firm footing for your presentation in Rome.

© MMXIX Skidmore College Classics Department