Lauren Van Nest

PhD Candidate

Lauren Van Nest studies the art and architecture of medieval Europe with a particular focus on the rituals and material culture of the Latin Church. Her dissertation, titled “Sacral Performance & Extended Royal Bodies in Ottonian Bamberg: The Case of Henry II & Kunigunde (1002–1024),” examines the relationships crafted between objects of imperial patronage in the Ottonian Empire, their ritual environments, and the bodies of their patrons. Her research considers the role objects play in the formation of political identities and notions of empire. 

She holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an M.A. from the University of Toronto. Lauren has presented her research at the Leeds International Medieval Congress and the International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, MI). Her research has been supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Center for Global Inquiry + Innovation. She currently serves as a member of the Mentoring Program Committee of the Medieval Academy of America (2022-2025) and the Student Committee of the International Center of Medieval Art (2020-2023). Lauren has previously been a member of the Graduate Student Committee of the Medieval Academy of America (2020-2022), Executive Chair of the Art History Graduate Association (2019-2020), and Co-Chair of the UVA Medieval Colloquium (2018-2020).

Other professional interests include developing digital humanities projects analyzing and documenting the history of academic institutions, namely universities and professional organizations. As a 2019-2020 Praxis Fellow (Scholars’ Lab, University of Virginia Library), Lauren co-created a digital humanities project titled Land and Legacy. The project investigates the land development and expansion of the University of Virginia and University of Virginia Foundation throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County since the 1980s. Since 2020, Lauren has served as the coordinator of the International Center of Medieval Art's Oral History Project. This podcast project features interviews between graduate students and ICMA members who have made significant contributions to the field of medieval art history and the ICMA.