Laurie Monahan

Laurie Monahan
Associate Professor
Department Chair

Office Hours

Campus (Chair's office): M,T,W | Remote: R, F
Campus Hours: 11:00 am-4:30 pm

Contact Phone

(805) 893-8060 (Chair’s office)

Office Location

Arts 1240 (Chair's office)
Arts 1218 (Faculty office)


Surrealism; French art (interwar period); European 20th-century Art; American Post-WWII Art; Visual Culture; Critical Theory.


Ph.D. Harvard University


Professor Monahan is not accepting graduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Laurie Monahan specializes in early 20th century European painting and visual culture, with an emphasis on Surrealism and related movements from the 1920s and 1930s.  Her research interests extend into the post-WWII period, with a focus on cultural relations between Europe and the United States, particularly in the 1960s. Her publications include essays on André Masson, Henri Matisse, and photographers Lee Miller and Claude Cahun. She has also published on Robert Rauschenberg and the Venice Biennale of 1964. She is currently finishing a book entitled A Knife into Dreams: André Masson, Massacres, and Surrealism of the 1930s, which addresses the politics of violence and myth and their relationship to French radical politics of the 1930s through Masson’s work. Monahan’s next major project, Kiosk Culture, focuses on French visual culture through Parisian photo-journals and avant-garde publications of the interwar period.

Critical continental theory has been central to Monahan’s methodological approach, and interdisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of her research.  Trained as a social art historian, she received her Masters degree at the University of British Columbia, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Laurie Monahan’s work has established her as a key scholar on André Masson and the “dissident Surrealists “of the 1930s and her research interests address the political and social stakes of French art and photography in the period between the two World Wars.  Her work on issues of violence, identity, and cultural relations between Europe and the United States, is recognized internationally and widely cited.


Undergraduate Courses

6C   Art Survey III: Modern - Contemporary
119A   Art in the Modern World
119B   Contemporary Art
119D   Art in the Post-Modern World
119E   Early Twentieth Century European Art, 1900-1945
119F   Art of the Post-War Period, 1945-1968
119G   Critical Approaches to Visual Culture
120AA   Special Topics in Twentieth-Century Modern Art
120AZ   Topics in 20C Modern Art ‐ Out of Sight - Visual Culture of the 1960s
120BB   Special Topics in Twentieth-Century Modern Art: Visual Culture and Revolution
120CC   Special Topics in Twentieth-Century Modern Art
120CV   Coloring Vision: the Meanings and Markings of Color in Modern Culture
120ML   Special Topics in 20C Modern Art
186K   Iconoclasm and Defacement: Episodes from the 20th-Century Avant-Garde
186V   Seminar: Theory, Method & Historiography
Shifting Subjects in Contemporary Art
Is the Avant-Garde Really Radical? Histories and Theories of Pop Art
French Art Between the Two World Wars
Modernist Visions, Modernist Frames
Making the Everyday Modern

Graduate Seminars

2008-2009   Radical Practices: Modernism/Postmodernism/Contemporary
2006-2007   Can Culture Count? Episodes from the 1930s in France
2005-2006   The Culture of Dissent
2004-2005   Myth and Modernity: Avant-Garde Movements in the 1930s
2002-2003   Text into Object, Object into Text
2001-2002   To the Barricades! The Culture of Dissent, circa 1968
1999-2000   Defining Surrealism(s), Then and Now