Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Mobility and Masks

Mobility and Masks

Cultural Identity in Travel Literature

Edited by Elizabeth C. Goldsmith

ISBN 9780674295803

Publication date: 03/19/2024

Travelers have always experimented with disguise while observing the disguises of others. Each of the chapters in Mobility and Masks illustrates the strategies of concealment in the experience of travel: a seventeenth-century German aristocrat discovers new freedom as she travels incognito, Jesuits write home from China in the eighteenth century about how costume changes serve their mission, a Chinese opera star reflects on his own masked art during a tour of Russia in 1935. Masking can be a racial marker, as shown in two nineteenth-century accounts: an English woman encountering the creole culture of the West Indies and a French woman observing how cosmetic beauty is defined in Shanghai. Fictional representations of the masked traveler are illustrative, too: masked voices in the lyric poetry of Horace, the masked woman as an obstacle in classic adventure tales, the failure of cultural masking in the story of a modern immigrant.


  • Elizabeth C. Goldsmith is Professor Emerita of French at Boston University.

Book Details

  • 166 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Ilex Foundation