PhD University of New Mexico
3024 William Johnston Building
Dr. Paul Niell focuses on the architecture and cultural landscapes of the Hispanophone Caribbean in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His work is informed by interests in colonial theory, material culture studies, cultural landscape studies, the history of slavery, and critical heritage studies. He teaches courses on the architecture and visual cultures of the African Diaspora, the Spanish Colonial period, and Caribbean architecture in the department’s Visual Cultures of the Americas program.
On the revival, use, and reception of Greco-Roman classicism in late colonial and early national Latin America, he is co-editor with Dr. Stacie G. Widdifield of Buen Gusto and Classicism in the Visual Cultures of Latin America, 1790-1910, published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2013. This revisionist anthology approaches the neoclassical phenomenon in the art and architecture of this period by examining the discourse of buen gusto (good taste) in societies from New Spain/Mexico and the Caribbean to South America. In these various global settings, good taste appears not only as an aesthetic reference, but also as a form of bourgeois self-creation and a means of shaping the national imaginary.
His single-authored book, Urban Space as Heritage in Late Colonial Cuba: Classicism and Dissonance on the Plaza de Armas of Havana, 1754-1828, was published by the University of Texas Press in May 2015 and received twelve academic reviews. This work considers the commemoration of Havana’s foundational site in the late colonial period through the lens of critical heritage studies. His other publications and projects include “Architecture of Colonizers/Architecture of Immigrants: The Gothic in Latin America from the 16th to the 20th Centuries,” a 2015 special edition of the journal postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, co-edited with Richard A. Sundt of the University of Oregon that offers the first comprehensive treatment of the appropriation of European Gothic style in Latin America. He was co-curator with Lesley A. Wolff and Michael D. Carrasco of the exhibition Decolonizing Refinement: Contemporary Pursuits in the Art of Edouard Duval-Carrié (Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University, February 16-April 1, 2018), a groundbreaking exhibition at FSU that set the work of renowned Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié into dialogue with the material culture of the southeastern United States. He is currently collaborating with Dr. Luis Gordo-Pelaez of CSU Fresno in co-editing the volume, Architectures of Extraction in the Atlantic World, now under contract with Routledge.
Professor Niell is co-organizing three conferences for the 2022/2023 core program of the Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies of the Clark Library at the University of California, Los Angeles, in collaboration with Dr. Stella Nair of UCLA, titled “The Forgotten Canopy: Ecology, Ephemeral Architecture, and Imperialism in the Caribbean, South American, and Transatlantic Worlds.” This conference series will bring together scholars from a wide range of disciplines as well as Indigenous Knowledge Bearers to examine the under investigated histories of ephemeral architecture and their relationships to human-environmental development and imperial processes post-1492. Dr. Niell is also working on a single-authored monograph on thatched bohíos (dwellings associated with the working poor) and the regulatory landscapes of late eighteenth and nineteenth-century Hispanophone Caribbean, for which he has received the support of the Council for Research and Creativity at FSU, the American Philosophical Society, the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Foundation, and the Society of Architectural Historians.
Jennifer Baez, “Painting the Miracles of Altagracia: Art, Piety, and Memory in Hispaniola.”
Emily Thames, “Empire, Race, and Agency in the Work of José Campeche, Artist and Subject in Late Spanish Colonial Puerto Rico (1751-1809).”
• Art History: Theory and Method
• Plantation Architecture and Landscapes of Florida
• Art and Nationalism in Latin America
• Architecture and Ephemerality in the Colonial Caribbean
• Spanish American Baroque/Architecture and Space
• Urban Worlds of the Early Modern Ibero-Americas
• Heritage, Place, and Identity in Early Spanish Colonial America
• The Arts of Refinement in the Atlantic World
• Spanish Caribbean Architecture and Cultural Landscapes
• Visual Cultures of the African Diaspora
• Caribbean Architecture and Cultural Landscapes
• Spanish Colonial Art: The Habsburg Period, 1492/1506-1700
• Spanish Colonial Art: The Bourbon Period, 1700-1821/1898
• Visual Cultures of the African Diaspora
• Undergraduate Seminar: Buen Gusto and Classicism in Latin America
• Undergraduate Seminar: Architecture, Landscape, and Environment in the Modern Caribbean
• History of African Art
• Cuban Colonial Art and Architecture