Professor Architectural History
University of Virginia
Ph.D. 2001 Art History, University of Delaware (4.0 G.P.A.)
Dissertation: "The Material Word: Anglican Visual Culture in Colonial South Carolina"
M.A. 1998 Art History, University of Delaware
Thesis: "Representations of the South Carolina Lowcountry Landscape, 1780 - 1810"
B.A. 1990 College of William and Mary
Fine Arts, concentration in Architecture
Louis Nelson is Professor of Architectural History, the Associate Dean in the School of Architecture, and the Director of the Program in Historic Preservation at The University of Virginia. He is a specialist in the built environments of American colonial architecture and the architectures and landscapes of the early modern Atlantic world.
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.
2015 "Architectures of West African Enslavement" Invited Lecture for "Architectures of Democracy" a conference hosted by Gunston Hall, Virginia
"Architectures of West African Enslavement," Invited lecture, University of Iowa
"Falmouth, JA: Architecture as History," an invited lecture at the annual symposium of the Archaeological Society of Jamaica, University of the West Indies, Mona (Kingston, Jamaica)
"Building Research," Keynote for the 2015 Huskey Graduate Research Exhibition, UVA
"Landscapes of Exchange: Merchant Houses, Wharves, and Commercial Streets in the Greater Caribbean" a peer reviewed paper presented at Architectures of Trade, the 9th Savannah Symposium, Savannah, Georgia
"Landscapes of Slavery: Wharf Districts of the Atlantic Slave Trade" an invited paper to be presented at "The Global City: Past and Present," an international conference at St. Andrews University, Scotland
"Architectures of Empire in Jamaica: the Scottish Connection," an invited lecture University of Edinburg, Scotland
"The Jamaican Sugar Plantation: Improvement, Industry, and Control" a seminar presented to the seminar on World History, Cambridge University, England
"Architecture and Empire in Jamaica," a seminar presented to the Architectural History Seminar, Oxford University, England
2014 "The Jamaican Campeachy," a peer-reviewed paper selected for presentation at "Delight and Design in Material Life," the annual conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, held in Winterthur, Delaware
"Architectures of Empire in Early Jamaica," invited lecture for Objects of Empire, an international conference hosted by the Rutgers British Studies Center, Rutgers University
"Landscapes of Rice," An invited lecture for the "Reign of Rice" lecture series, Brookgreen Gardens, SC
"St. Michael's, Charleston and early Anglican Material Religion," an invited lecture at "Building a Handsome Church, a Tercentenary Symposium," the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts