John Osborne, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, Carleton University
The Roman Forum stood at the heart of the ancient city, replete with temples, basilicas, and numerous other buildings, both public and private. But visitors to the city in the 19th century describe it as a cow pasture, devoid of habitation. This talk will explore what happened to the Roman Forum in the centuries after the emperors moved to Constantinople, and responsibility for the upkeep of the city slowly devolved from the state to the Christian church, in the person of Rome’s bishop, the pope. What was the effect of this transformation on the physical space at the centre of the city? And how long did the Roman Forum remain in use before it fell into decay?
John Osborne is a medievalist and cultural historian, with a special focus on the art and archaeology of the cities of Rome and Venice in the period between the sixth and thirteenth centuries. His numerous publications cover topics as varied as the Roman catacombs, the fragmentary mural paintings from excavated churches such as San Clemente and S. Maria
Antiqua, the decorative program of the church of San Marco in Venice, 17th-century antiquarian drawings of medieval monuments, and the medieval understanding and use of Rome’s heritage of ancient buildings and statuary. He is also interested in problems of cultural transmission between Western Europe and Byzantium. A graduate of Carleton University, the University of Toronto, and the University of London, he has held faculty and administrative positions at the
University of Victoria (1979-2001) and Queen’s University (2001-2005), and is currently Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton. Promoted to the rank of full professor in 1989, he has held visiting fellowships at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; the Istituto Ellenico di Studi Bizantini, Venice; and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, Washington. In 2006 he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the British School at Rome.