Vittoria Di Palma is Associate Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture in the School of Architecture at USC. She specializes in modern European architectural history and theory, with particular concentrations in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century architecture, early modern land use and landscape, and contemporary landscape theory and design. Her research in architectural history is centrally concerned with how visuality and aesthetics inform the design, representation, and experience of buildings and environments, while her work in the environmental humanities focuses on the ways in which conceptions and images of landscape operate in the collective imaginary.
Before joining the University of Southern California in 2012, she taught in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, in the Department of Art History at Rice University, and in the Histories and Theories of Architecture graduate program of the Architectural Association in London, for which she served as co-Director. She has held visiting positions at the University of Calgary and The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), and has been the recipient of fellowships from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Dumbarton Oaks, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and The Huntington Library.
Di Palma is the author of Wasteland, A History (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014), a study of early modern English conceptions of hostile territories that aims to serve as a prehistory of current attitudes toward toxic and derelict postindustrial sites. By focusing on swamps, mountains, and forests, the book argues that these kinds of resistant landscapes are united not by any essential physical characteristics, but rather by the aversive reactions they inspired. Wasteland was awarded the 2016 Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Award by the Society of Architectural Historians, the 2015 Louis Gottschalk Prize by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, a 2015 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize by The Foundation for Landscape Studies, and a 2015 PROSE Award (American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence, Honorable Mention in Architecture and Urban Planning). She also co-edited (with Diana Periton and Marina Lathouri) Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City (London: Routledge, 2009).