Public Humanities: Staircases of Beloit College
In my Spring 2017 course: Classics 230: Ancient Greco-Ital Art and Architecture, I learned much about the arts, culture and architectural conventions in Ancient Greece and Rome. However, as a final project, we were tasked to use Public Humanities; a process of deploying knowledge from the past into a modern context, to inform the larger campus community with regard to what we've learned this past semester.
My group decided to take the principal work of prominent Roman architect Vitruvius and translate it into a modern relevant context. His book, De Architectura (Translation: Ten Books on Architecture), is considered one of the earliest works of architectural theory, and is the only of it's kind to survive antiquity. Specifically, we decided to analyse a few of the staircases around campus with regard to Vitruvius' staircase design specifications. We then placed our research into an accessible pamphlet which was then distributed in various places across campus (World Affairs Center, Admissions Office, Logan Museum, & Wright Art Museum) for the larger campus community to engage with.
Our goal is that campus visitors, prospective students, and anyone else who comes across our pamphlet will be able to take a walk across campus and engage with the staircases we've analyzed in a meaningful way in which they wouldn't have originally, and hopefully ask themselves: What would Vitruvius think?
The Team: Christopher Mazza '20, Trent Avery '18, Zhengyue Li '20, Blaine Burgess '20
Special Thanks to: Prof. Lisl Walsh & The Beloit College Classics Department, Fred Burwell '86 & The Beloit College Archives