Rosa Sessa & Michael Lee

Monday, May 9, 2022–6:00 PM
AAR Lecture Room
Via Angelo Masina, 5
Rome, Italy
Graphic image with '2021-22 Fellow Shoptalk' in white letters against a solid red background

Rosa Sessa
American Architects in Postwar Italy: In Search of an Alternative Modernity

The postwar era is a crucial moment in the definition not only of new economic and political paths between the New and the Old Continent but also of new directions in the cultural and architectural exchange between Italy and the United States. In the period of broadest success of the modernist International Style in architecture, both domestically and abroad, Italy and its heritage only apparently seem to fall from the intellectual map of the modern American architect. On the contrary, a resurgent interest in Italian architecture—and a widening of questions and issues related to the country and never unfolded before—can be detected in the trajectories and projects pursued by the young Americans who were able to conduct research programs and extensively travel overseas. The first-hand experience of postwar Italy will help them in carrying out projects that would eventually have an influencing and long-lasting impact on the American perception of the country, and on the history of American architecture itself.

Rosa Sessa is the Italian Fellow in Modern Italian Studies and a research fellow in history of architecture in the Department of Architecture at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.

Michael Lee
Ganymede’s Garden: Homoeroticism and the Italian Landscape

The Italian landscape has for centuries been a locus amoenus of male same-sex desire. Serving as an idealized setting for homoerotic visual representation and narratives of self-discovery, it has equally been the locus for social practices that gave rise to these associations. Cardinals and popes entertained male lovers in their Roman villa gardens, enhancing the atmosphere with homoerotic works of art. Northern aristocrats traveled to Italy on the Grand Tour in search not only of intellectual and aesthetic pleasures but also sexual liaisons with Mediterranean men. In the process they were equally seduced by the gardens, groves, and coastal landscapes of a warmer climate, discovering an ambience that seemed to promote and even sanction more relaxed social mores. With a focus on the early modern period, this project examines sites, texts, and artworks linking homoeroticism with Italian landscapes and develops a methodology for analyzing gay culture through a landscape framework.

Michael Lee is the Prince Charitable Trusts/Kate Lancaster Brewster Rome Prize Fellow in Landscape Architecture and the Reuben M. Rainey Professor in the History of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia.

The shoptalks will be held in English. Rosa Sessa’s talk was recorded and is available below.


Space in the Lecture Room is limited, and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you plan to attend an event with a group of over six guests or students, please inform events [at] with at least 48 hours prior notice so that special arrangements can be made.

Guests will be asked to comply with Covid-19 safety protocols for events:

  • Access to the Academy requires the presentation of a valid photo ID and a Super Green Pass
  • FFP2 masks are required when indoors, and temperature will be checked before entry
  • Visitor contact information may be shared for contact tracing

Please contact events [at] with any questions.

Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.

Watch the video