Mantha Zarmakoupi, Assistant Professor in Roman Architecture at University of Pennsylvania (USA), discussed her book Shaping Roman Landscape: Ecocritical Approaches to Architecture and Wall Painting in Early Imperial Italy (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2023) in the Greenhouse environmental humanities book series on Monday, 30 October 2023, at 16:00 in Norway / 10:00 Eastern.

This book focuses on Roman architecture, nature, and wall painting to shed light on the interconnected environmental, aesthetic, social, and political changes of the late Republican and early Imperial periods that shaped ideas of landscape as a way of seeing—an active, historically-determined mode of looking. Drawing on a diverse body of archaeological, art historical, and literary evidence, this study applies an ecocritical lens that moves beyond the limits of traditional iconography. Chapters consider, for example, how garden designs and paintings appropriated the cultures and ecosystems brought under Roman control, and the ways miniature landscape paintings chronicled the transformation of the Italian shoreline through the rise of colonnaded villas, pointing to the changing relationship of humans with nature. Making a timely and original contribution to current discourses on ecology and art and architectural history, Shaping Roman Landscape reveals how Roman ideas of landscape, and the decorative strategies that gave these ideas shape, employed at imperial domus and villa complexes were richly embedded with meanings nature, culture, and labor.

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