Bibliotheca Iulia Instaurata
Immersive Raphael Project

History best remembers Julius II as the “Warrior Pope.” His reign, from 1503 to 1513, was marred by spiritual and political unrest. The pontiff famously rode into battle with papal troops and faced down threats of schism from within the Vatican’s curia. Julius’s legendary terribilità, however, not only describes the pope’s militance, but also his literary and artistic patronage. His court hosted the peninsula’s great scholars, poets, and artists – among them, Michelangelo and Raphael, whose Vatican works are celebrated examples of Italian Renaissance art. When Raphael arrived in Rome in 1508, he began to paint the walls of the Bibliotheca Iulia, Julius II’s private library, with frescoes of the School of Athens (representing Philosophy), the Disputa (Theology), the Parnassus (Poetry), and the Jurisprudence (Law), showing authors and books that Julius read. Today called the Stanza della Segnatura, this room once was the real and symbolic center of the papal apartments. After centuries of conflict, renovation, and reuse, however, it is difficult to picture the Stanza as it originally was: a vibrant site where Raphael’s paintings framed Julius’s collected books, and conversations about pictures and texts flourished.

This project re-envisions the Stanza as the library of Julius II. In so doing, it reanimates these conversations by allowing visitors today to explore the visual and literary parallels that once wedded Raphael’s magnificent paintings to the books that were shelved below them. Designed for students, scholars, and curious explorers alike, the platform is an immersive educational environment, allowing users to step into the shoes of the Renaissance scholars, diplomats, and prelates that once visited the space. We invite you to join this digital Stanza as reader, viewer, and interlocutor, to peruse its histories, and to reconsider its contents. What does the Bibliotheca Iulia reveal about word and image in sixteenth-century Rome? And what might these conversations tell us about learning, then and now?

PROJECT CREDITS

The Tech and Cinema Team

Andreas Kratky (University of Southern California; Cinema Arts; Co-PI)

Curtis Fletcher (University of Southern California; Ahmanson Lab; Co-PI)

Erik Loyer (University of Southern California; Annenberg Innovation Lab; Co-PI)

The Intellectual Historians

Lisa Pon (University of Southern California; Art History; PI)

Tracy Cosgriff (The College of Wooster; Art History; Co-PI)

Frederic Nolan Clark (University of Southern California; Classics; Co-PI)

Graduate Asistants in Interactive Media at USC

Yuwei Lin

Jimi Stine

Michael Wahba

Hesi Mendez

Jasmine Jupiter

Christy Ye

Jessica Dong

Bernice Wang

Shelby Zhang

 

Funding

USC Ahmanson Lab Collaboratory (2019-20)

USC Office of Research: Zumberge Collaboration Grants (2019, 2020)

NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Phase II Grant (Jan 2020-Dec 2023)

Underdraduate Assistants

Olivia Benoit

Kassandra Arroyo

Isabelle Hoover

Consultants and Advisors

Alexander Nagel

David Lines

Tara McPherson

Francesca Fiorani

Earle Havens

Worthy Martin

Arnold Nesselrath

Margaret Haines

Bill Sherman