Kate Thomas - portrait

Kate Thomas

Garden Club of America Rome Prize
September 9, 2019–February 10, 2020
K. Laurence Stapleton Professor of English, Bryn Mawr College
Project title
Nymphaeums, Grottos, and the “Pink Lily”: Lesbian Gardens in Fin-de-Siècle Italy
Project description

This project is on the expatriate lesbian gardens of fin-de-siècle Italy. Focusing on the garden of the Villa Gamberaia during the time it was owned by Princess Ghyka and her American lover, Florence Blood, I will analyze the architecture of this garden, theorizing its physicality in relationship to lesbian subjectivity. The American Academy itself houses archival material essential to this research, and a residency in Rome would also put me within reach of the Villa Gamberaia and& other important archives at I Tatti, Il Palmerino, and Le Pietra. Professionally, this project allows me to turn my literary study to the material and botanical, a gesture newly understood in my field as attention to “vibrant matter”—but it is a turn already taken more than a century ago by the authors I study, and these authors understood that turn to be enabled specifically by the culture of Italy. During a residency I could complete both a stand-alone article and a book proposal for an edited volume.