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Joanna Scutts

Writer

New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails

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The Day Europe Fell Silent

In Cape Town, the firing of a pair of guns from the city’s Signal Hill has marked the hour of noon every day except Sunday for more than 200 years. In the spring of 1918, the city’s mayor, Sir Harry Hands, turned that timekeeping tradition into a memorial ritual. His eldest son, Reginald, had died of gas poisoning on the Western Front.
The Atlantic Link to Story
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Virginia and Leonard Woolf Remember Their War Dead

Virginia Woolf’s life, and her writing, were deeply, indelibly marked by World War I. Her postwar fiction returned again and again to the challenge of memorializing both personal and collective loss. But before Jacob’s Room and Mrs Dalloway and To The Lighthouse, before the war was even over, she and her husband Leonard worked side by side to produce a physical memorial to Leonard’s youngest brother Cecil, killed in 1917 at the battle of Cambrai just after he turned 30.
Literary Hub Link to Story
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The Death of FilmStruck Is a Dark Day in the History of Movies

As Warner gears up to face down Disney with its direct-to-consumer streaming service, launching next year, it’s clear that the company has no interest in catering to passionate fans of its back catalog, only in chasing the largest possible audience for its new releases. What’s not clear is why it has to be a zero-sum game, and why efforts at preservation and education have to be eliminated in order to chase the biggest possible audience and present them with a library far broader than it is deep.
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Orlando Is the Virginia Woolf Novel We Need Right Now

Woolf points out over and over again that what makes men men is their power, and what makes women women is their lack of it: financially, culturally, and physically.
Vulture Link to Story
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Britain’s Boarding School Problem

When socially privileged children are separated from their families at a tender age, some develop what psychotherapists have called “Boarding School Syndrome”: “a defensive and protective encapsulation of the self,” in which they learn to hide emotion, fake maturity, and assert dominance over anyone weaker. They develop loyalty to their institutional tribe and suspicion of outsiders; they become bullies devoted to winning above all. If these traits sound familiar, it may be because the men who sent Britain careening into the catastrophe of Brexit—David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage—are all products of elite boarding schools, notorious symbols of social and economic inequality.
The New Republic Link to Story
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The State of the Advice Column in 2018

The advice column ought to be a relic. It belongs to a time when local newspapers were a community’s main window on the world: before widespread therapy, and before Google was around to autocomplete our anxieties. Yet the advice column in the online era remains wildly popular, evolving in form and audience: from traditional Q&As to live chats and podcasts, there are now innumerable ways to share our dilemmas with the world or eavesdrop on other peoples’.
Medium Link to Story
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Well-Behaved Women Make History Too

The million-dollar success of the Rebel Girls enterprise lies in a combination of stylish design, savvy marketing, and the yawning gap in the market for real women’s stories. It’s a gap that conventional publishers have rushed in to fill, but when we cherry-pick the past for icons of female rebellion, are we really serving women, or history?
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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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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 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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The Evolution of the Advice Column

The pleasure of the advice column is at odds with its premise. It makes no practical sense to write to a newspaper for advice on an urgent problem, given the days and weeks that will elapse between the questioner sending a letter and the columnist publishing a response. But the draw of the advice column is not really about the questioner getting a timely answer; it’s about readers’ voyeurism and moral theorizing.
Medium Link to Story
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The Very True Story Behind A Very English Scandal

A Very English Scandal, the new three-part series from Queer As Folk and Doctor Who writer Russell T. Davies and director Stephen Frears, is a wild tale of politics, ambition, sex, mental illness, attempted murder, and virulent homophobia. It’s also pretty much a true story.
Vulture 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

  • Teaching
  • Copy Editing
  • Editing
  • Writing