The American Italian Cultural Center offers a monthly lecture series exploring a variety of Italian cultural and historical topics. The lectures are free for AICC members and students with a valid university or high school ID. There is a suggested $10 donation for non-members.

Trash Towns: Excavating Garbage at Ancient Pompeii

Thursday, October 10, 2019, 6:30 pm

The excavations of Roman Pompeii, a bustling seaside town utterly destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, have revealed no shortage of treasures. Golden jewelry, evocative wall paintings, delicate mosaics, even the frozen impressions of the disaster’s victims: these objects have inspired imaginations across the world for more than two and a half centuries.

This talk will ignore all of that. Instead, we will dive down, into some of the best places to find evidence for who the Pompeians were and how they lived: toilets, sewers, and landfills. Drawing on fifteen years of active excavation and research at Pompeii, archaeologist Allison Emmerson (Assistant Professor at Tulane) will explore the emerging evidence for how the city managed its garbage, tracing the complex cycles of use, reuse, and recycling that moved trash in, out, and around its walls, arguing that a truism of today equally applies to the ancient past: one man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure.


Origins of Siena: Myth vs Memory

Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:30pm

With no clear textual or physical proof of an ancient Roman settlement, Siena faced considerable challenges to its assumed antiquity in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  Far more than a point of pride, an association with a Roman past linked the Italian city-states of the early Renaissance with the glory and achievements of the former power, offered political legitimacy to republics, and informed identities while augmenting cultural worth. The damaging insistence by leading Italian writers like Giovanni Villani and Flavio Biondo of Siena’s Gallic–and thus non-Roman–origins prompted the Sienese state to engage an elaborate civic program in defense of its antiquity and Roman-ness, or Romanitas.  This presentation examines Siena’s intense efforts, most associated with an invented origin myth that linked the city’s foundation to Rome’s own Romulus and Remus, to manufacture a classical identity and assert its ancient authority.

Dr. Samantha Perez earned her M.A. and her Ph.D at Tulane University and works as an assistant professor at Southeastern Louisiana University. She is a native Louisianan.


Lecture: Preserving Italian Culture in New Orleans Cemeteries

Thursday, July 25, 2019, 6:30pm

Emily Ford of Oak and Laurel Cemetery returns to the American Italian Cultural Center for a fascinating lecture on preserving Italian culture in New Orleans cemeteries

This lecture will draw from the historic landscapes of all New Orleans cemeteries and from ongoing research into the preservation of Italian heritage. The impact of Italians in New Orleans cemeteries is most powerfully visible in Metairie Cemetery’s row of Italian society tombs, but Italian influence is present in all New Orleans cemeteries.

From the influence of 1850s Italian sculptor Americo Marozzi on Bywater cemeteries like St. Vincent de Paul and St. Roch, to hidden Florentine masterpieces in Cypress Grove, Italian artisans have subtly made their mark upon the development of our iconic cemeteries.

This lecture will also discuss the preservation of Italian heritage in New Orleans cemeteries, including the challenges of reclaiming society tombs, preserving family tombs, and a few inspiring success stories.