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UMass Sesquicentennial

University of Massachusetts Amherst

History Department

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Will Johnston

Professor Emeritus




Research Interests and Professional Activities

Professor Emeritus Will Johnston holds a PhD from Harvard University (1966). While teaching Modern European Intellectual History, Professor Johnston published The Formative Years of R.G. Collingwood (1967), The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938 (1972), Vienna, Vienna (1981), In Search of Italy: Foreign Writers in Northern Italy (1987), Celebrations (1991) and Recent Reference Books in Religion (1996). He edited The Encyclopedia of Monasticism, 2 vols. (2000) In 1969, he won the Austrian History Prize for the best manuscript in Austrian history, subsequently published as The Austrian Mind. Professor Johnston retired from the History Department in December 1999 and since then has lived in Melbourne, Australia. He visits Europe as often as possible.

Starting in 2007 he has returned to writing about twentieth-century Austrian culture. A recent book entitled Zur Kulturgeschichte Österreichs und Ungarns discusses how aging scholars have viewed the old age of Austrian and Hungarian culture. Introducing new phrases that express quirky perspectives, the book offers Will’s final wrestling with the “network of networks” that was Habsburgia’s high culture. That culture delighted above all in “embellished parallel universes” embodied for example in operetta, codes of courtesy, and the workings of a “theater state.”


Research Areas:

Intellectual History of Austria, 1867-1938

History of Christianity

Courses Recently Taught:

“Understanding Dante’s Comedy,” in a program “The Age of Dante” conducted at the Monash Centre, Prato, Italy during November-December 2013.


Der österreichische Mensch: Kulturgeschichte der Eigenart Österreichs (Vienna, Cologne, Graz: Böhlau Verlag, 2010) 394 pp [inventories twenty-five essayists on Austrian identity 1914-1967]

Zur Kulturgeschichte Österreichs und Ungarns 1890-1938: Auf der Suche nach verborgenen Gemeinsamkeiten (Vienna, Cologne, Graz: Böhlau Verlag, 2015) 328 pp. [devises new categories to describe commonalities of high culture throughout the Habsburg Empire (“Habsburgia”)].


2009 Award fir Lifetime Achievement from the City of Vienna: “Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Land Wien”