Ancient Rome in Chicago

Ancient Rome in Chicago tour
Students visit the Empire Room in the Palmer House as part of the Ancient Rome in Chicago field study.

Francesca Tataranni, one of two faculty members honored with the 2017 Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished University Professor of Instruction Award, never wanted to be a teacher. At least not until she came to the United States.

“There’s very close collaboration and interaction between faculty and students, which is something I never experienced when I was studying in Italy,” says Tataranni, professor of instruction in classics. “That really opened up a world of possibilities.”

Tataranni, who is also director of Latin instruction, teaches a course that allows her students to interact not just in the classroom but in downtown Chicago, too. The seminar, Ancient Rome in Chicago, features a project in which students research points of interest around the city and create a shared digital map featuring a virtual walking tour of the sites, complete with added student commentary in the form of video essays.

Tataranni wanted to design a class that allowed students to appreciate the continuous presence of the classical past beyond antiquity. She saw signs of classical antiquity in Chicago’s architecture, and the idea for the class was born.

“I thought the use of Chicago, this quintessential, modern American metropolis, as the field within which my students could conduct investigations of the dialog between the past and the present was the right way to do it,” she says.

“The students love it,” she adds. “This kind of class really changes the way they look at the world in general.”

Tell us what you think of the magazine in a short online survey by Jan. 31, and you’ll be entered to win an iPad.

E-mail comments or questions to the editors at