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James H. Johnson F'14, F'05, F'89

James H. Johnson

Boston University
last updated: 07/06/18

ACLS Fellowship program 2014
Boston University
Masks and Modern Consciousness

"Means of Concealment: French Identity and the Self" completes a two-volume study on the meaning of masks in modern and early modern Europe. Like its predecessor, "Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic" (2011), it considers how individuals have viewed their identity by understanding why they have hidden it. It traces masking in France, physical and figurative, from the early seventeenth century through the first decades of the twentieth. Its subjects include the codified dissembling of courtly "politesse" and those who extolled, anatomized, or denounced it; the adopted clothes and manners of young men from the provinces seeking their fortune in Paris; and the pervasive figure of the mask in fin-de-siècle novels, plays, and paintings as an emblem of hypocrisy, delusion, or madness. Together these two books chart evolving ideas of the self and the rise of modern individualism through modes of concealment and its penetration.

ACLS Fellowship program 2005
Associate Professor
Boston University
Masks and the Making of Modern Consciousness

This project describes the paths to modern ideas of identity as seen through the use of masks, physical and rhetorical. Its central theme relates the changing practice and meaning of masking to emergent individualism in the West. It provides a vivid account of what people did and how they thought about themselves while wearing masks. Early-modern Venice and nineteenth-century Paris are the principle settings of this study. Its sources include archival court, police, and surveillance records; newspapers; legislation on dress; scientific works; and pamphlets, speeches, and plays.

Research Fellowships for Recent Recipients of the PhD Degree 1989
Saint Mary's College (IN)
The French musical experience from the Old Regime to Romanticism

This author is represented in the ACLS Humanities E-Book collection.


Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic.
Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic. University of California Press, 2011.

Listening in Paris: A Cultural History.
Listening in Paris: A Cultural History. University of California Press, 1995.