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Venice Study Group

Director Fall 2015: Associate Professor Joseph Swain, Department of Music 


The cultural achievements of ancient, medieval, and renaissance Italy have a central place in the study of western civilization, and the city of Venice, the site of the longest-lived European republic, played a pivotal role in that history. The Venice Study Group is open to students who have a strong interest in Italy's cultural heritage and in its position within the world of modern culture. The interdisciplinary program of study is designed to give students direct experience with Italy's cultural past and a critical look at its present. Students will have the opportunity to study at first hand archaeological sites and museums, the music, art and architecture of Venice, historical collections and archives etc.  By participating in the study group, students should acquire a deeper sense of the temporal developments of western civilization as well as a better understanding of contemporary Italy.

This study group has not been designated to satisfy the Core Global Engagements requirement.  Students will need to meet the Global Engagement requirement by enrolling in a designated course offered on campus.

Program Structure and Course Credits

All courses are taught by the director or specialists residing in Italy and are open to study group students only.  Instruction is in English except for the language component. Colgate's affiliation with the University of Venice gives students access to the University’s dining halls and libraries. In addition, several other excellent libraries in Venice are open to students. The study group is also affiliated with the Venice Institute where it rents classroom space.

Students are required to register for the four study-group courses and are not permitted to exercise the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading option.  All students will take Italian language at the appropriate level, as described below.

Italian Language (Italian 122Y, 201Y or 202Y)
These language courses are designed to improve students' ability to understand, speak, read, and write Italian. Considerable emphasis on conversational practice on selected aspects of contemporary life in Italy. Italian 202Y includes literary readings as well. Taught by local adjuncts.

The Arts of Venice During the Golden Age (Art History 311Y; Music 311Y) 
A study of the history and artistic achievements of Venice, especially music, architecture and painting from 1200-1900.  Attendance at local concerts and visits to churches, museums, and other monuments in the area.  Concentration credit in Music.

The Archaeology of Italy (Classics 234Y) 
A study of Italian archaeology and the basic concepts and methods that archaeologists use to investigate the past. A week-long field trip to Pompeii and Rome, as well as other shorter trips, will be taken in conjunction with this course. Concentration credit in Classics.

The Italian Opera Tradition (Music 313Y)
An introduction to music drama, concentrating on six operas representing all important periods of the Italian tradition.  Composers include Monteverdi, Mozart, and Verdi.  Particular operas studied are determined according to what is offered in the opera houses in and around Venice in Fall 2015. Concentration credit in Music.

Field Trips

Courses in the Venice Study Group meet at various historical and cultural locations as a matter of routine. There will be several day-trips as well as at least two longer field trip in support of the courses.

Students in Venice in 1984 Colgate Students in Venice in 2013

Cultural Life and Extracurricular Activities

The city of Venice, a virtual living museum, has a rich cultural life and inexhaustible opportunities for exploration. The autumn season is particularly active with artistic exhibits, film festivals, theatrical productions, operas, and concerts. The nearby cities of Padua and Verona also have an extensive cultural life. There are several athletic clubs in Venice (including that of the student association of the University of Venice).  Students may also join local choral groups.

Living Arrangements

Housing arrangements will be made by the director before the arrival of the students, who will live in furnished apartments with other Colgate students. They will be responsible for their own meals, except for occasional group meals on the field trips. They may cook in their apartments, eat at the university dining hall, or at any of the various eateries in the city.

Standards of Conduct

Students’ conduct is expected to reflect positively on the group and to support the goals of the program.  Academics are to be taken seriously. Attendance in classes, field ,and performances is required, including the weekend events. Norms of behavior (regarding cleanliness, noise, safety, etc.) should be those of adults in an Italian residential setting rather than of students in American college dorms or apartments.

Piazza-San-MarcoPrerequisite Course Work and Selection Criteria

Students from all concentrations and from any graduating class are welcomed.   In order to participate in the program, students are required to have knowledge of elementary Italian.  This language prerequisite may be fulfilled with (a) three years of high school study, (b) by completing Italian 101 and 102 at Colgate, or (c) by taking the intensive Introductory Italian course in Venice during August 2015, one month before the start of the program.  (This August course grants Italian 101 credit.)  Factors which enter the selection process include interest in Italian cultural heritage (e.g. as demonstrated by prior courses in Latin, Italian, European history, art history, music history, archaeology, etc.), academic standing, disciplinary record, and recommendations from faculty. 


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Calendar and Deadlines

All students interested in applying should plan on attending the informational session. The deadline for applications to the Fall 2014 Venice Study Group is Friday, November 7, 2014. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs’ website and are submitted online. Student notification of selection will occur in late December 2014.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through March 2016. All students participating on the Venice Study Group will be required to obtain a long-stay student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with the Italian government’s visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs, 101 Lathrop, and International Student Services, 103C Lathrop Hall, to learn as much as you can about the regulations. For some students there are significant visa requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Program Dates

Venice Study Group Dates: late August - late December 2015. The calendar includes two vacation breaks.

Informational Sessions

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. and
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

Both sessions  will meet in Dana 122.

More Information

For more information, please contact Professor Joseph Swain  (228-7644),105 Dana or by e-mail at