Juliana Maxim, PhD

Juliana Maxim
Phone: (619) 260-7636
Office: Camino Hall 033B

Program Director, Architecture

  • PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture
  • MArts, Laval University, Canada; Art History
  • BArch, Laval University, Canada
  • Architecture and Architectural History studies, Istituto Universitario di Architettura, Venice, Italy

Juliana Maxim is an art and architectural historian whose work focuses on the history of modern aesthetic practices – from photography to urbanism – under the communist, centralized states of the Soviet Bloc. She completed her PhD dissertation in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture at M.I.T. in 2006.

Maxim was a recipient of the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research Award (2008-2010) and was an American Council for Learned Societies post-doctoral fellow (2012-2013).

Her forthcoming book titled The Socialist Life of Modern Architecture: Bucharest, 1955-1965, explores the remarkably intense and multifaceted architectural activity in postwar Romania and the mechanisms through which architecture was invested with political meaning.

Areas of Expertise

20th century art, architecture and urbanism in Eastern Europe

Scholarly Work

In her writings, Maxim explores a range of topics and practices that relate to the cultural imagination of socialism. She works on mass housing projects and the forms of modern urban life they generated, and on the architectural organization of leisure – from sea-side resorts to open-air museums. She also extends considerations of architecture beyond buildings and architects, to representations in painting, photography, film, and writing. She has published, for instance, on the propagandistic message that documentary photographs of architecture carried throughout the 1960s, and on the role that communist mass housing districts play in recent Romanian cinema; she is currently writing on socialist realist paintings that took housing districts as their subject matter.

The aim of the work is to illuminate at once the specific ways in which the city and its architecture were shaped by political imperatives – and how architecture shaped those imperatives in return; but also to show that socialist aesthetic productions, long understood as anti-modernist, are in fact key to a revised and expanded definition of modernism.

Areas of Interest

In her classes, Maxim focuses on the relationships between aesthetic productions and political contexts.  Most recently, she taught a class on Soviet art, in which students examined the various artistic (or anti-artistic) responses to the political changes that occurred between 1917 and 1950 in the Soviet Union.  She regularly teaches classes on various aspects of European modernism.  Recently, she has conceived and taught the “Methods” seminar for Art History majors. 

Maxim is also interested in exploring new ways of teaching the art history survey.  For example, her introductory course titled “The Year 1500:  A History of Art and Architecture Around the Globe” replaces the teaching of art through time with an investigation of art through space at a particular historical moment.  In so doing, the survey emphasizes thematic and stylistic relationships and cross-cultural influences, challenges the primacy of European artistic norms, and invites the students to experience the diversity and complexity of the definition of art in the age of exploration.