Registration open for “The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770–1980” (Oct 19-20)

CONFERENCE “The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770–1980”
October 19-20, 2017
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Thursday, October 19, 6-8 p.m., Keynote at the Embassy of Italy
Friday, October 20, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Symposium in McEvoy Auditorium.

Registration is now open at for “The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770–1980.” This conference will examine the persistent fascination of American and Italian artists with the cultural achievements of ancient Rome and the Renaissance. In creating a national identity and official culture, Italy and the United States looked to history—in particular, ancient Rome and the Renaissance—to find inspiration for enlightened political practices; to locate models of artistic, political, and economic preeminence; and to seek ways to ward off imperial decadence and decline. Scholars will seek to update and broaden our understanding of American-Italian cultural relations from the Revolutionary Era through the Cold War by encompassing a diversity of international voices and approaches. The talks will be webcast live and archived for future viewing. For the webcast, the full program, and speakers’ bios and abstracts, see our webpage at

Organizing Committee:
Melissa Dabakis, Professor and Chair of Art History, Kenyon College
Paul Kaplan, Professor of Art History, Purchase College, SUNY
Daniele Fiorentino, Professor of U.S. History and Political Science, Università degli Studi Roma Tre
Sergio Cortesini, Assistant Professor of Art History, Università di Pisa
Karen Lemmey, Curator of Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Amelia Goerlitz, Fellowship and Academic Programs Manager, Smithsonian American Art Museum

“The Course of Empires” is the sister conference to “Hybrid Republicanism: Italy and American Art, 1840–1918,” held at the American Academy in Rome in October 2016. Both events are made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art, which is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. SAAM is pleased to present this program in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in DC and the Italian Cultural Institute. We are especially grateful to His Excellency Armando Varricchio, the Italian Ambassador to the United States, for serving as the honorary patron for this conference. Additional support is provided by Purchase College, SUNY; Kenyon College; Università di Pisa; Università degli Studi Roma Tre; and the American Academy in Rome.


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