- B.A., Barnard College, Columbia University, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa
- M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University, with distinction
Research and Teaching
Professor Susik is a specialist in dada and surrealism studies, and her secondary research areas include new media aesthetics and contemporary art. Her work focuses on the intersection of surrealism with anti-authoritarian protest cultures and issues in mass media, technology, and visual/material culture.
At Willamette, Dr. Susik offers courses on 18th- through 21st-century Art History, the History of Photography, methodologies of Art History, and special topics in modern and contemporary art. Selected books by Professor Susik include Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work (Manchester University Press, 2021), Radical Dreams: Surrealism, Counterculture, Resistance (Penn State University Press, 2022), and Surrealism and Film After 1945: Absolutely Modern Mysteries (Manchester University Press, 2021).
Susik is a founding board member of the International Study for the Society of Surrealism and co-organizer of its 2018, 2019 and 2021 conferences. Between 2015 and 2019, she was an Associate Editor of the College Art Association publication, Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus and a member of the New Media Caucus Board of Directors. Professor Susik was the 2009-2011 Postdoctoral Fellow at Millsaps College, and her research has been supported by The Graves Awards in the Humanities, The Mellon Foundation, The Council of Independent Colleges, and other institutions. She curated a major survey of Imogen Cunningham’s photographs at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in 2016.
Her book Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work uncovers the history of surrealism’s radical anti-work position through an analysis of American and European surrealism between the 1920s and the 1970s. Works across media by Man Ray, André Breton, Óscar Domínguez, Joseph Cornell, Simone Breton, Salvador Dalí, Meret Oppenheim, Konrad Klapheck, Giovanna, and others, are examined in relation to the intransigent surrealist concept of permanent strike. Combining a social art history approach with labor history and theory, and a focus on surrealist subversions of the hierarchy of binary gender, this interdisciplinary study establishes the transatlantic continuity of the surrealist work refusal over the course of the twentieth century.
Professor Susik is currently working on a new curatorial project and exhibition catalogue entitled Touch of the Marvelous: Surrealism and the West Coast, about surrealism and surrealist influence in North America after 1945. In-progress book projects include her edited volume Surrealism and Animation: Beyond Still Life (including an introductory overview of the history and theory of animation in surrealism, and also a chapter on Roland Topor), as well as her second book, a series of case studies devoted to revolutionary concepts in the transatlantic avant-garde, Change Life: Avant-Garde Abolition, Prefiguration & Future Pasts.
Lawrence D. Cress Award for Faculty Scholarship, Willamette University, 2020
The Graves Award in the Humanities, "South American Surrealism: Expanding Modernism's Canon Through Teaching and Research in Art History," for six weeks of funded travel in Peru, Chile, and Argentina, Pomona College, 2020
Council of Independent Colleges seminar fellow, “The Art of Storytelling in French Painting and Sculpture 1600–1850,” Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon, July, 2015
Faculty Achievement Awards in Teaching and Research, Willamette University, 2015
Alan Glass: Surrealism's Secret, forthcoming
Change Life: Surrealism, Abolition, Prefiguration (in progress).
REVIEWS FOR SURREALIST SABOTAGE
'This original and enthralling work is not only indispensable for understanding the political and revolutionary core of surrealism but for rethinking strategies of resistance and creation in the present. With this lucid critical study, Abigail Susik recovers an insurgent surrealism at a moment when global capitalism is escalating the immiseration of human labour and when its productivist imperatives are devastating the planet.'
Jonathan Crary, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia University
'Abigail Susik's brilliant account of surrealism's sustained aesthetic subversion and outright attack on compulsive wage labour and its genealogy in the late-nineteenth century radically reorients our understanding of this influential international movement. With great erudition and conceptual savvy, she places surrealism in the social history of work-place rationalisation, labour struggles and the feminisation of white-collar labour. Surrealist automatism is shown to function like work-to-rule sabotage. Automatic writing emerges as a gendered subversion of the automation of the work place present in surrealist photography and in the eroticised imagery of the typewriter and the sewing machine. Surrealism can still inspire challenges to the nature and organisation of work in the information age.'
Andreas A. Huyssen, Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
'Charting the rejection of the so-called "work ethic" by the surrealists in their theory and art, this groundbreaking study sheds new light on the activities of the surrealist movement in the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s, across two continents. Abigail Susik's deeply impressive investigative scope, combined with precise attention to historical, social and economic context, yields new interpretations of a wide range of work-resistant, pleasure-principled, anarcho-Freudian forays into poetry, painting, photography and sculpture by surrealists, drawing upon a truly extraordinary range of scholarly sources. Mentored by theorists from Marx to Marcuse, surrealist techniques and imagery are revealed as instruments of the saboteur. Meanwhile, urgent questions that are so rarely broached today with the kind of clarity given them by workshy surrealists and their ultra-left allies - who works, for what, at what cost and why bother? - are raised on every page of this illuminating book, demonstrating that surrealism lives, loves and plays, but does not labour: yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Gavin Parkinson, Senior Lecturer in European Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art
REVIEWS FOR SURREALISM AND FILM AFTER 1945
'In this major contribution to the burgeoning canon of interdisciplinary critical work in surrealism studies, Noheden and Susik have gathered together exciting new essays by leading scholars in the field, offering detailed historical and theoretical analyses of key films and directors which will wholly recalibrate our understanding of post-war developments in surrealism and its cinematic expressions.'
Patricia Allmer, author of Lee Miller: Photography, Surrealism, and Beyond
'The marvellous essays in Noheden and Susik's Surrealism and film after 1945 make a compelling case for post-1945 as truly the movement's "age of cinema" and a golden one at that. Sharpening our understanding of surrealist engagements with cinema and cinematic engagements with surrealism while inviting us to go expansively beyond the commonly understood historic and geographic boundaries, the essays in this collection provide a wondrous set of "enchanted wanderings" through postwar cinema, film culture and aesthetics. I am equally excited by what this collection accomplishes - in terms of a richer sense of the place(s) of surrealism in cinema's modern era and its global nature - as I am by the new inquiries and itineraries it will surely inspire.'
James Leo Cahill, author of Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé
Selected Recent and Forthcoming Essays
“Aragon’s Modern Mythology and Surrealist Détournement,” under review.
“Gender Performativity in Surrealism,” forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to Surrealism, ed. Kirsten Strom (Routledge, 2022).
“Automatism, Autobiography, and Thanatography in the Surrealist Novel,” forthcoming in History of the Surrealist Novel, ed. Anna Watz (Cambridge University Press, 2022).
“The Rebel Worker,” forthcoming in Encyclopedia of the American Left, 3rd ed., edited by Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle and Dan Georgakas (London: Verso, 2021).
“Always for Pleasure: Interview with Penelope Rosemont,” forthcoming in Journal of Surrealism and the Americas 12:1 (2021).
“Subcultural Receptions of Surrealism in the 1960s International Underground Press: Resurgence and Other Publications,” Cambridge Critical Concepts: Surrealism, ed. Natalya Lusty (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 380–400.
“D.E. May and the Gift of Unknowable Intimacy,” Figuring (Eugene, OR: Center for Art Research, University of Oregon, 2021), 140–45.
“The Alchemy of Surrealist Presence in Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain,” Surrealism and Film after 1945: Absolutely Modern Mysteries, eds. Kristoffer Noheden and Abigail Susik (Manchester University Press, 2021).
“Panique,” “Beauty,” and “Poetics,” The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism, eds. Michael Richardson, Dawn Ades, Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Steven Harris, Georges Sebbag (Bloomsbury Press, 2019), 171–74, 282–85, 521–24.
“Curating for a 'New' Portland: Portland Biennial 2016,” The Exhibitionist (Summer 2016).
"Snobbism, Juvenilia and 'The Children's Corner:' Carrington's Contributions to S.NOB in1962," Leonora Carrington and the International Avant-Garde, eds. Jonathan P. Eburne and Catriona McAra (Manchester University Press, 2016).
"Ocean Semiosis," feature catalogue essay in Plastika Alaska, au. Andy Hughes with contributions by Mark Dion, Pam Longobardi, Nicholas Mallos, Howard Ferren, Carl Safina (Plastic Editions, 2015), 6-11.
“Sky Projectors, Portapaks and Projection Bombing: The Rise of a Portable Projection Medium,” special double issue on video history in Journal of Film and Video 64, nos. 1–2 (Spring/Summer 2012): 79–92.
“Remarks on the Commodity Status and Critical Applications of the Surrealist Outmoded," in Regarding the Popular: Modernism, the Avant-garde, and High and Low Culture. European Avant-garde and Modernism Studies; v. 2 (De Gruyter, 2012), 323–39.