Reactive liquid crystal monomers allow the anisotropic properties of liquid crystal materials to be captured permanently by photopolymerization. This enables the fabrication of a myriad of anisotropic mesostructures with exotic features and properties. In particular, colloidal dispersions of birefringent polymer spheres can be fabricated by suspension and emulsion polymerization; template synthesis can be used to produce self-assembled fibrous mesostructures; dispersed phases within solid films can be used to produce birefringent ellipsoidal inclusions in a polymer matrix for scattering polarizers; and islands of oriented polymer can be embedded in an amorphous matrix to produce thermally responsive surfaces.