American Sanctuary

American Sanctuary

Understanding Sacred Spaces
Edited by Louis P. Nelson
Distribution: World
Publication date: 2/21/2006
ISBN: 978-0-253-11196-8
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This volume examines a diverse set of spaces and buildings seen through the lens of popular practice and belief to shed light on the complexities of sacred space in America. Contributors explore how dedication sermons document shifting understandings of the meetinghouse in early 19th-century Connecticut; the changes in evangelical church architecture during the same century and what that tells us about evangelical religious life; the impact of contemporary issues on Catholic church architecture; the impact of globalization on the construction of traditional sacred spaces; the urban practice of Jewish space; nature worship and Central Park in New York; the mezuzah and domestic sacred space; and, finally, the spiritual aspects of African American yard art.

Author Bio

Louis P. Nelson is Assistant Professor of Architectural History at the University of Virginia. He is author of Pulpits, Piety, and Power: Anglican Architecture and Material Culture in Colonial South Carolina (forthcoming).


"This valuable collection of original essays . . . [is] readable and well illustrated, and should be eminently teachable in a wide variety of courses. . . . Recommended." —Choice

"This valuable collection of original essays, edited by Nelson (architectural history, Univ. of Virginia), arose from a conference on the theme of sacred space in the U.S. The component chapters, mostly by younger scholars, cover a broad range of topics, including Puritans and Anglicans in Colonial America, Central Park and the Jewish erub (ritual Sabbath boundary) in New York City, African American yard art, Roman Catholic church design since Vatican II, and contemporary evangelical megachurches. Nelson's introductory essay summarizes recent scholarly debate on the nature and character of sacred space. Though it by no means resolves these issues, it constitutes a stimulating contribution to the discussion, into which several of the contributors enter. An extensive bibliography is also most useful. The essays are readable and well illustrated, and should be eminently teachable in a wide variety of courses. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper—level undergraduates and above; general reader" —P. W. Williams, Miami University , Choice , January 2007

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction Louis P. Nelson
I. Inscription
2. New England Orthodoxy and the Language of the Sacred Gretchen Buggeln
3. God in Gotham: Architecture and the Design of Sacred Space in New York's Central Park Paula A. Mohr
4. The Urban Practice of Jewish Space Jennifer Cousineau
II. Identity
5. Salvage/Salvation: Recent African American Yard Shows John Beardsley
6. Spaces for a New Public Presence: The Sri Siva Vishnu and Murugan Temples in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Joanne Punzo Waghorne
7. Getting beyond Gothic: Challenges for Contemporary Catholic Church Architecture Paula M. Kane
III. Instability
8. Word, Shape, and Image: Anglican Constructions of the Sacred Louis P. Nelson
9. The Mezuzah: American Judaism and Constructions of Domestic Sacred Space Erika Meitner
10. Mythic Pieties of Permanence: Memorial Architecture and the Struggle for Meaning Jeffrey F. Meyer
IV. Toward a Method
11. Reading Megachurches: Investigating the Religious and Cultural Work of Church Architecture Jeanne Halgren Kilde
Select Bibliography