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Joanna Scutts

Writer

New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails

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Rosario Candela and the invention of high-rise luxury

When you’ve made it in New York City, how do you make sure the world knows it? There is only so much desirable Manhattan ground to build on, and mansions are a lot of work. The rest of the city is pressing not only uptown but up into the sky, and you’ve spent a fortune not to live in anyone else’s shadow.
Curbed NY Link to Story
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Viv Albertine’s Punk Memories

“Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke,” Viv Albertine, guitarist for the all-female punk band The Slits, wrote in the introduction to her first book Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir, which came out in 2014. “I’m a bit of both.” Cynicism and sympathy wrapped in a self-deprecating sneer, it was a distinctly British opening to the brash, sometime brutal story of a working-class girl’s coming of age in London in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The New Republic Link to Story
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The Fight Women Won

The first militant act of the Women’s Social and Political Union was a dry-mouthed spit, “a kind of pout,” from 25-year-old Christabel Pankhurst into the face of a police officer, the only physical assault she could manage while her arms and legs were restrained. Her action, carried out in Manchester in 1905, got her labeled a “spitfire,” which pleased her, and arrested, which pleased her even more.
The New Republic Link to Story
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Four women who ‘changed our world’

They were single and married, mothers and not, educated and self-taught, financially comfortable and struggling. Their work spans the second half of the 20th century and continues into the present. They did not know one another. But in her lively new biography of Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters, Andrea Barnet makes a compelling case that these women “changed our world.”
The Washington Post Link to Story
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Working Night and Day, for 1,000 Years

The simple definition of work—tasks performed for a wage under legally binding conditions, on a regular schedule—is in fact a rare and recent formula.
In These Times Link to Story
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Wallis Simpson Was No Bold Forerunner

Throughout her life, where Wallis lived and traveled, what she did and who with, was dictated entirely by her man, or men, of the moment. No wonder she was furious most of the time.
The New Republic Link to Story
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History—and a Glimmer of Hope—in a Whiskey Glass

JUST AFTER FIVE O’CLOCK in the morning on April 18, 1906, what came to be known as the San Francisco earthquake trembled down the coast from southern Oregon to Los Angeles and inland as far as Nevada. “Rumors of great disaster from an earthquake in San Francisco, but know nothing of real facts,” President Roosevelt wrote anxiously to the Governor of California, eager for some solid ground to stand upon.
Wall Street Journal Link to Story
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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.
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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
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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….
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Gentlemen For Rent

Ted Peckham, a foppish Midwestern arriviste in his early twenties, spotted this opening in the market soon after he arrived in New York. In 1935, he founded the Guide Escort Service—essentially, a way for women to rent out men.
The New Yorker Link to Story
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Fascist Sympathies: On Dorothea Brande

In the mid-1930s, slumped deep in economic depression and faced with ever-worsening news from Europe, Americans turned to self-help with a sharp new thirst. The decade, bookended by the Crash and the War, was a period of seeking, searching and struggling, as is clear from the titles turned bromides like How to Win Friends and Influence People and Life Begins at Forty that still pepper our vocabulary.
The Nation Link to Story

About

Joanna Scutts

I'm a historian, critic, and curator based in Astoria, New York (not far from the Hellgate Bridge, above.) My first book, THE EXTRA WOMAN: HOW MARJORIE HILLIS LED A GENERATION OF WOMEN TO LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT, was published in November 2017 by Liveright/W.W. Norton. It tells the story of a forgotten 1930s lifestyle guru and the world of self-help and women's independence in mid-century America.
Most recently I was the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's History at the New-York Historical Society, where I helped open the first dedicated Center for Women's History in an American museum.
My work has appeared in the Washington Post, New Republic, Guardian US, TIME.com, New Yorker online, In These Times, Daily Beast, the Nation, and the Wall Street Journal. 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, MacKenzie Wolf.

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joannascutts.com

Skills

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Copy Editing
  • Teaching