Professor David M. Lubin

Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Grand Illusions

What Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory did for literature, David Lubin's Grand Illusions does for the painting, photography, sculpture, and film inspired by the First World War. Astutely guiding his readers through the treacherous landscape where stubborn romantic myths befog the ghastly realities of modern warfare, Lubin powerfully demonstrates the Great War’s lasting legacy in all the visual arts. (David M. Kennedy, author of Over Here: The First World War and American Society)

A fascinating, richly illustrated examination of how this supposedly 'forgotten' war figured in the American imagination. (David Reynolds, author of The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century)

The deep shadow the First World War cast on American painting, film, and letters is the subject of David M. Lubin's impressive book. Demolishing the outmoded idea that the war of 1914-18 vanished from the American scene after 1918, the author offers us a wide-ranging study of both the visible and the underground traces war leaves in its wake. (Jay Winter, author of Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History)

  • History of American Art
  • American and British Cultural History
  • Film history and aesthetics

I specialize in American cultural history pertaining to the fine arts and popular visual media from the colonial period to the present.  My most recent book, Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War (Oxford, 2016), examines art, illustration, film, and photography produced by Americans in the crisis years leading up to, during, and after that conflict. I have also co-curated and -edited World War I and American Art (Princeton, 2016), the catalogue for a museum exhibition that will appear in Philadelphia and then New York to mark the centennial of the U.S. entry into the war in 1917.  My research often investigates art related to public trauma, as in my monograph on the movie Titanic (BFI, 1999) and my book Shooting Kennedy: JFK and the Culture of Images (California, 2003), which examines the iconic photography of Camelot and the Kennedy assassination.  My current research is on British and American art in the Age of Revolution.  

Interview on “All Things Considered” (National Public Radio) concerning a WWI sculptor who made tin masks for facially disfigured soldiers (25 September 2014):


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