Graduate Activities: Melissa Fitzmaurice at the Society of Architectural Historians

Doctoral candidate Melissa Fitzmaurice presented a paper last Friday, June 9, as part of the panel Rethinking Medieval Rome: Architecture and Urbanism at the annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians in Glasgow, Scotland. Melissa was awarded the Gill Family Foundation Graduate Student Annual Conference Fellowship to support her travel to Glasgow.

Fascist Medievalism: Architecture, Authority, and Dissent in Rome

The demolitions involved in the excavation of the Mausoleum of Augustus and the creation of a surrounding piazza began on October 22, 1934, and eventually led to the destruction of 27,000 square meters within the city of Rome.[i]What was selected to remain is as important as what was destroyed: Mussolini routinely called for the isolation of ancient monuments, but in the case of the Mausoleum, there were buildings that stood in the way of the ideal isolation. Three medieval churches were protected and worked into the various plans for the piazzale over 30 years. Despite this and other cases, in the study of Italian Fascism and the regime’s urban and architectural interventions in Rome, the medieval city is often overlooked- the antique world looms much larger.  But the medieval offered a certain ideological utility to the regime as well, which must be examined.  Using digital mapping and modeling tools, and case studies including the preservation of medieval buildings during the production of the Piazzale Augusto Imperatore and the destruction of churches during the excavation of the Via dell’Impero, this project constitutes a palimpsestuous exploration of the legacy of medieval Rome. Beyond recognizing the use, manipulation, or destruction of medieval sites, this paper seeks to highlight the enduring power of medieval architecture on the Roman landscape, identifying the possibility or actuality of production of political and ecclesiastical authority, and dissent from that authority, in order to produce a deeper understanding of the continuities and ruptures between the medieval city, the fascist city, and the present. 

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