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Louis Nelson
Associate Provost for Outreach; Professor, UVA School of Architecture

Louis Nelson is Professor of Architectural History and the Associate Provost for Acacemic Outreach in the Office of the Provost. He is a specialist in the built environments of the early modern Atlantic world, with published work on the American South, the Caribbean, and West Africa. His current research engages the spaces of enslavement in West Africa and in the Americas, working to document and interpret the buildings and landscapes that shaped the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He has a second collaborative project working to understand the University of Virginia as a landscape of slavery. Nelson is an accomplished scholar, with two book-length monographs published by UNC and Yale University Presses, three edited collections of essays, two terms as senior co-editor of Buildings and Landscapes–the leading English language venue for scholarship on vernacular architecture–and numerous articles. He is also a celebrated teacher, having won a university-wide teaching award in 2007 and serving as the 2008 UVA nominee for a state-wide Outstanding Faculty Award. Nelson’s teaching and research focuses on the close examination of evidence-both material and textual-as a means of interrogating the ways architecture shapes the human experience. The majority of his work focuses on the early American South, the Greater Caribbean, and the Atlantic rim. His early work on colonial religious architecture is best realized in his monograph, The Beauty of Holiness: Anglicanism and Architecture in Colonial South Carolina (UNC, 2008). Winner of the 2010 SESAH Best Book of the Year Prize, The Beauty of Holiness examines the ways Anglican churches in colonial South Carolina-the nexus of many social landscapes-express regional identity, social politics, and divergent theologies of the sacred. “Sensing the Sacred: Anglican Material Religion in Early South Carolina,” published in the Winterthur Portfolio, was also recognized for its contributions to the field of architectural history; it was named the 2008 SESAH best article of the year. His interest in the colonial South then led him past the “sacred 13” colonies. For a decade her served as the director of a summer field program in Falmouth, Jamaica, popularly referred to as the Falmouth Field School. One by product of this work is the Falmouth Project, a GIS-based data information system used as a repository for ongoing work in Falmouth. Working together with more than one hundred students over more than 10 years, his fieldwork in Jamaica and the Leeward Islands has resulted in some of the first systematic recording of eighteenth and nineteenth-century architecture in the British Caribbean.