Joanna Scutts


New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails


Chasing revelation on a long-distance run through a natural landscape

This four-mile race, with its entry fee, timing chips, bib numbers, medals and tightly managed course, is far removed from the solitary, unencumbered, mostly barefoot running that Cregan-Reid celebrates: a plastic bottle of Gatorade to his handful of water gulped from a mountain stream.
The Washington Post Link to Story

The Woman Who Worked to Save 19th-Century Victims of Sex Trafficking

At the end of the 19th century, journalist and reformer Victoria Earle Matthews sounded the alarm about what amounted to a system of sexual slavery then thriving in post-emancipation America. So-called “employment agents” operating throughout the South were targeting poor, young black women and luring them to northern cities with the promise of work, only to deliver them to urban brothels and red-light districts.

The Society Girl Who Became a Martyr for Women’s Suffrage

This piece is part of an ongoing series on the unsung women of history. Read more here. When she died at the age of 30, in 1916, Inez Milholland was a celebrity whose fame was one part movie star Mary Pickford and one part anarchist Emma Goldman. Though her activism was almost overshadowed by her beauty and her time as a society girl, she was most famous as the leader of the huge 1913 suffrage parade in Washington D.C.

Helen Gurley Brown: Cosmo editor's quest for glamour, sex and power

At a Brooklyn event, the biographer of the era-defining editor of Cosmopolitan discussed her subject’s strengths and foibles, as well as her feminism
The Guardian Link to Story

The Depression Era’s Magic Bullet For Weight Loss

Recently, the New York Times published a sobering story on the alumni of the 2009 season of The Biggest Loser. A study had shown that almost all of those who had publicly lost hundreds of pounds on the show’s punishing diet and exercise regime had gained nearly all of it back, unless they made staying slim the focus of every waking moment.
The New Republic Link to Story

Not your average tale of a single woman in the city

Imagine the plot of a romantic comedy: An English writer who has given up on love meets a man who asks her to move halfway across the world for him. That’s the prologue to “The Lonely City,” and you might expect (or dread) the ensuing story of a woman learning to love her single state, until she’s saved by a new relationship. Thankfully, Olivia Laing’s unusual book — part memoir, part biography, part cultural criticism — is less a predictable rom-com than a wonderfully melancholy meditation on modern art, urban space and the complexity of being alone.
The Washington Post Link to Story

The Writer Who Taught American Women How to Live Alone

This piece is part of an ongoing series on the unsung women of history. Is it possible for a woman to be single and happy? Even after multiple waves of feminist revolution and backlash, the answer to that question still comes with caveats: Yes, if she’s And it depends what you mean by happy….

The Great Academic Novel

Are the humanities doomed? In 2015, it can certainly seem that way as universities reinvent themselves as global brands, investing their resources in amenities and administrators while turning the slow labor of teaching over to cheap, disposable adjuncts.
In These Times Link to Story

Redefining Paris’s Cocktail Scene

On most of the chalkboards outside Paris’s street-corner bistros, there’s a list of happy-hour cocktails that hasn’t changed in decades: Long Island Iced Tea, Piña Colada, Sex on the Beach, lurid colors and umbrella garnishes. Paris is notoriously slow to change, and for a while it looked as though the modern craft cocktail revival, which sparked a dimly lit, brown-liquor bar boom in cities from London to Louisville, might bypass the home of Harry’s Bar.
Tales of the Cocktail Link to Story

Lauren Groff: 'I didn't want there to be extramarital sex'

Lauren Groff is having quite the week. Her new novel Fates and Furies, the follow-up to 2011’s well-received Arcadia, has already eclipsed its predecessor: since its release on Tuesday, it’s already been longlisted for the National Book award in fiction and is on Amazon’s top 20 bestseller list. For Groff, in the midst of a book tour, it’s been a surreal, sleepless, exhilarating burst into the light.
The Guardian Link to Story

The Uncanny Valley: A 1960s Architectural Experiment

Fifty years ago this year, a small gang of freshly minted architecture graduates decided to do something radical, something they'd been told they'd never actually do for themselves in the course of their careers: build a house with their own hands. It was the beginning of a modest revolution in the way that architecture and construction can coexist, and the launch of David Sellers's dizzying adventure of a career.
Curbed National Link to Story

The True Story of Rupert Brooke

Among other quintessentially English anniversaries—Shakespeare’s birthday, St. April 23rd marks a hundred years since the death of Rupert Brooke, who for most of the past century has ranked among Britain’s best-known and most beloved cultural figures. A poet of the First World War who never saw action, he is famous mainly for one sonnet, “The Soldier,” from a sequence of five, and then mainly for its opening lines: “If I should die, think only this of me: / That there’s some corner of a foreign field / That is forever England.”.
The New Yorker Link to Story


Joanna Scutts

Welcome! I'm a cultural historian and literary critic based in Astoria, New York (not far from the Hellgate Bridge, pictured above.) My first book, THE EXTRA WOMAN, will be published in November 2017 by Liveright/W.W. Norton. It tells the forgotten story of 1930s single-woman guru Marjorie Hillis, and through her, explores the world of self-help and feminine independence in mid-century America.
Currently I'm the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's History at the New-York Historical Society, where I am working to open the first dedicated women's history center in an American museum.
My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian US,, The New Yorker online, In These Times, Poets & Writers and The Wall Street Journal, among many other venues. I hold a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and have taught literature and writing at Columbia, Barnard College, and NYU's Gallatin School.
Agent: Kate Johnson, Wolf Literary Services, LLC.



  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Copy Editing
  • Teaching