Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Jane Freiman

2021–22 Undergraduate Fellow, Concentrator in American Studies and Comparative Literature
Project "Vagrant Desires and Dangerous Disguises: New York’s Anti-Mask Law"
Last updated August 9, 2022, based on June 2021 biographical sketch


Jane Freiman ’22 graduated from Brown with honors in American Studies and Comparative Literature.

Currently, she is interested in the production of history, culture, and knowledge; collections, archives, and museums as sites of domination and creative resistance; and art and textile politics. In addition, she enjoys studying modern and contemporary poetry and novels written in English and French, especially those which engage with texture, the body, interiority, and interior spaces. Her thesis in American studies, developed under the title “Dangerous Disguises and Vagrant Desires: A History of New York’s Anti-Mask Law,” traces the language and enforcement of this law from its origins in 1845 until its repeal in May 2020. She is interested in bringing together ideas from queer theory, performance studies, and critical legal studies to grapple with the law’s desire to make its subjects legible, in order to make them legislatable, while also considering how individuals criminalized by the anti-mask law have found ways to subvert its gaze and live according to their desires for freedom and beauty. She hopes to bring the mask law’s history into conversation with the contemporary politics of the mask and modes of facial obfuscation.

She was awarded a prize for distinction for her thesis.