In memory of Barbara Monahan

May 13, 2022


On May 11, 2022, Senior Lecturer Emerita Barbara Monahan passed away at the age of 90. Barbara was an integral part of the Slavic Department from 1968 to 1992 and will be missed by her former colleagues and students. 


Barbara is the author of “A Dictionary of Russian Gestures,” and in 1991, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from AATSEEL (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages). 


But perhaps the best reflection of Barbara’s accomplishments is the role she played in the lives of hundreds of Brown University students. To them, she was the vivacious and energetic “babushka” (or “grandmother,” a classroom title she preferred to Professor Monahan) who guided them through the world of the Russian language and made the culture come alive. Some students still kept in touch with her long after they graduated and she retired. In 2008, a former student dedicated a page in his blog to his experiences in Barbara’s class in the early 1980s ( Over 20 years after he sat in her classroom, he paints  a vivid picture of a dynamic and compassionate teacher. Thus, in the memories of her students, we can see Barbara Monahan’s true legacy: “A truly amazing teacher is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget” (unknown).