New Book by Lasansky Reveals Tuscany's Hidden History

red book cover with a drawing of Pinnochio
Cover of Hidden Histories by D. Medina Lasansky.
book opened to pages with text, a map, and a photo of a masonry building
Inner pages of D. Medina Lasansky's book, Hidden Histories. image / Didapress
book opened to pages with text and a movie poster for
Students and former students contributed to Lasansky's book. image / Didapress
Cover of Hidden Histories by D. Medina Lasansky. Inner pages of D. Medina Lasansky's book, Hidden Histories. image / Didapress Students and former students contributed to Lasansky's book. image / Didapress
News
July 12, 2018

D. Medina Lasansky, the Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory in the Department of Architecture, has published a new book. Hidden Histories: The Alternative Guide to Florence and Tuscany is the first volume in the Critical Tuscan Studies (CTS) series from Dida Press, an imprint of Firenze University Press.

Lasansky is an architectural historian whose research and teaching focus on the intersection of the built environment, politics, and popular culture. In Hidden Histories, she reveals how food, landscape, and architecture are intertwined in the Tuscany region of Italy, and uncovers the Tuscany which has been idealized, distorted, and even overlooked. The book details how Italian design and contemporary consumption patterns draw from the longings of the Romantic period of the previous century, and how, in the process, Tuscany has been constructed largely by Anglos.

"The book can be read as a hypertext with a dozen different itineraries, or as a narrative from beginning to end," says Lasansky. "Either way, it seeks to reveal aspects of the Tuscan landscape — whether it's the contemporary prevalence of sex trafficking, or wine adulteration — that are hidden in plain sight." The book's more than 220 images include many that are previously unpublished and 50 commissioned from a young Florentine photographer.

Lasansky's previous writings include The Renaissance: Revised, Expanded, Unexpurgated (Periscope, 2014) and The Renaissance Perfected: Architecture, Spectacle and Tourism in Fascist Italy (Penn State, 2004); Archi.Pop: Architecture and Design in Popular Culture (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014); and Architecture and Tourism: Perception, Performance, and Place (coeditor, Berg, 2004), among others. The peer-reviewed CTS series includes scholarly work on different chronological periods across a range of disciplines, including architecture, landscape studies, urban planning, literature, cinema, art history, and more.

AAP students who contributed to the book include current students Athanasiou Geolas (Ph.D. HAUD '23), Anna Mascorella (Ph.D. HAUD '19), Michael Moynihan (Ph.D. HAUD '23), Thanh Nguyen (B.Arch. '18), Whitten Overby (M.A. HAUD '13, Ph.D. HAUD '19), and Aquinnah Wong (B.Arch. '18); alumni Mike Babcock (M.Arch. '17), Jen Grosso (B.Arch. '13), Pete Levins (B.Arch./B.S. HA '12), Ruth Lo (M.A. HAUD '09), Chad Randl (M.A. HPP '00, Ph.D. HAUD '14), and Karl Tsui (B.Arch. '12); and several alumni holding Cornell doctoral degrees in Italian studies.

By Patti Witten