Art History Area Coordinator, Professor of Art History
Contact Info

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  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • M.A., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • J.D., Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • B.A., Duke University, Durham, N.C.
Areas of Expertise
  • French Modernism
  • Early French film history
  • Visual culture in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • Gender and sexuality studies

Dr. Shanahan’s current research focuses on trauma and affect in photography, the photography of French psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault, and the representation of the French colonial soldier and worker during and after World War I. This research has been supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar in 2014, a Clark Art Institute award in fall 2015, and a Fulbright Scholar award to France in 2017. This research motivated her co-curated exhibition, Colonial Wounds / Postcolonial Repair (Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, March-April 2019) and the exhibition catalog published by University of Virginia Press.

Her completed manuscript, The Colorist Doctor: Fernand Léger and the Aestheticization of Trauma, is currently under advanced review at a university press.  The Colorist Doctor reconsiders Léger's oeuvre as contextualized by the individual and collective traumas of the Great War, the Exodus of 1940, and other events. 

Her co-edited collection, Simón Bolívar: Travels and Transformations of a Cultural Icon (University Press of Florida, 2016), analyzes Bolívar as a contested cultural symbol of national identity and revolutionary politics. The book has received numerous positive reviews including by the College Art Associations’ CAA Reviews.

She received JMU’s Madison Scholar Award and Edna Schaeffer Award, both in 2018.

She has been a keynote or invited speaker at universities in eight countries and presented papers in English, French and Spanish. She has also delivered papers at the annual conferences of the College Art Association, the French Colonial History Society, the International Federation for Theater Research, the Modernist Studies Association, Women in French, as well as various non-reoccurring conferences, such as the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Florida State University.  

Dr. Shanahan has published 15 peer-reviewed articles, catalog essays and other writings. Her most recent article, “The Battle for Hearts and Minds: The Nogent Mosque during World War I,” appears in a special issue of African Arts (fall 2019).

Other articles have appeared in Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, the International Journal for Art and Design Education, the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Cinema Studies, and Michigan Feminist Studies.  She has also contributed to various anthologies, exhibition catalogs and encyclopedias:  Patronage, Spectacle and the Stage, edited by Irene Eynat-Confino and Eva Sormova, 87-97 (Prague:  Theatre Institute, 2006); Democracy and Culture in the Transatlantic World, edited by Daniel Silander, 199-207 (Växjo, Sweden: Växjo Univ. Press, 2005); Den Maskulina mystiken (The Masculine Mystery), edited by Anna Lena Lindberg (Lund, Sweden:  Studentlitteratur, 2002) (in Swedish).

Before coming to JMU, Dr. Shanahan taught art history and women’s studies courses at SUNY Oswego, where she directed the women’s studies program and a SUNY-wide French exchange program.  Before entering academia, she worked as a lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission and as a grants writer for the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. Dr. Shanahan served as associate director of the JMU Honors Program from 2004-2012.

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