In memoriam


Caroline Monahan was born in Witney, England, and lived in London. She moved with her parents, Hugh and Agnes, and brothers, Patrick and Kevin, to Vancouver in 1957. Her dad was a world-renowned artist, recognized for his paintings of wildlife.

Caroline pursued her BA and MA at UBC. She was then hired as a lecturer of Spanish in the Modern Language department at the University of Victoria in 1967. The following year, the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies was established, of which she was a founding member.

In her first years in the department, along with teaching, Caroline worked toward her PhD at the University of London, which she attained in 1974. She was subsequently appointed to a tenure-track position.

Just two years later upon receiving tenure, she served as chair of the department for the academic year 1976-77. This was unusual for a colleague so junior but a testimony to Caroline’s standing among her peers.

Caroline was more than up to the challenge. Under her watch, three new tenure-track colleagues were hired, two in Spanish and one in Italian. In 1981, when the long standing chair, Pablo Cabañas, suddenly died of a heart attack, Caroline was once more called upon to serve as chair until 1984, and then again in 1986 for six months.

Those were years of severe cut-backs at the university, on account of the restraint measures imposed by the BC government at the time. Further attrition in the department, owing to the death of a second colleague, a retirement and a colleague moving back to Ontario, strained the department's resources. Despite these set-backs, Caroline fought for the department's interests with the characteristics which defined her: strong principled determination tempered with good humour.

Within the university at large she also served as chair of the Campus Security Committee for two years and chair of the Board of Directors of the University Club from 1989-1991, during which time smoking was banned from the club. She would tell stories of the invective she got from unhappy smokers, adding with a smile, "just my luck to pick those two years to serve as chair."

Her research included a critical edition of Los hijos de la Barbuda, by Luis Vélez de Guevara, along with other related publications, including a rediscovery of another play by Luis Vélez. Her many scholarly presentations, always of the highest standard and very entertaining, were often the result of countless hours spent in the British Library in the summer months.

Caroline's outstanding teaching skills were admired by peers and students alike. She offered courses on Spanish language, translation, Spanish Golden Age literature and Spanish culture, among others. The courses she taught in her final year saw record numbers of students, including in her ever popular course on Cervantes' Don Quixote.

Caroline, a beloved teacher and colleague, the heart and soul of the department, with a strong sense of what was right, retired in 2005, with one of the most fun parties many colleagues could recall, including her memorable imitation of "Sister Wendy."

She made the most of her retirement, enjoying birding, a passion she got from her dad, travel, theatre, opera, music and the Spanish Book Club. She lived her life to the fullest right up to her cancer diagnosis in the Spring of 2022.

Caroline had a world of friends and was extremely close to her two brothers and their families. She will be greatly missed by us all.

Caroline’s family has provided a link to her obituary.

Established in her memory, the Caroline Monahan Scholarship will support academically outstanding students majoring in Hispanic Studies in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies.

— Written by Professor Emeritus Lloyd Howard, submitted by the Deparment of Hispanic and Italian Studies on November 16, 2022.