Joanna Scutts


New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails


Literary Novels Are Using Romance to Talk About Politics

In the middle of Sally Rooney’s new novel Normal People, one of the protagonists, a young Irish college student named Connell, finds himself “in a state of strange emotional agitation” over a moment of romantic drama in Jane Austen’s Emma. His knee-jerk response is self-deprecating: “He’s amused at himself, getting wrapped up in the drama of novels like that.
Medium Link to Story

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

At home with our favorite characters

Susan Harlan’s Decorating a Room of One’s Own: Conversations on Interior Design with Miss Havisham, Jane Eyre, Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Bennet, Ishmael and Other Literary Notables is a singular delight for book nerds, design nerds, and anyone who, like me, happens to be both. The book lovingly spoofs interior design trends and celebrity profiles, illuminating the decorating choices and challenges faced by a host of well-known and obscure literary characters.
Curbed National Link to Story

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

'Storytelling isn't a game to me'

“I was absolutely surprised,” Adam Johnson says emphatically, to the admittedly indelicate question of whether his win on Wednesday night at the National Book awards was a little unexpected. The morning after, Johnson is still heaping praise on them. “I was among a group of really talented young writers who are doing important work – large, sweeping work,” he says.
The Guardian Link to Story

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

Book Review: ‘The Improbability of Love,’ an art-world romance

Hannah Rothschild, a scion of the banking dynasty, wrote her first nonfiction book, “The Baroness,” about the life of her great-aunt Pannonica, a rebel who abandoned her notorious family to become a passionate patron of jazz. That story was complex, unpredictable and enriched by a serious consideration of the human impact of vast wealth.
The Washington Post Link to Story

Second Thoughts: Joanna Scutts on Emma

I remember how my first copy of Emma looked more clearly than I remember first reading it. It was part of a set along with Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice— dusty pink hardcovers with deckle-edged pages, neither old nor valuable but seeming both to me.
Critical Mass Link to Story

Immigration, Dislocation, and the Search for Home

The Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas, author of the bestselling 2009 novel The Slap, has had a disorienting week. It’s Monday evening in Paris, and he’s just arrived from Switzerland, where he spent the weekend at a literary festival discussing the ongoing economic turmoil in Greece. The news in Europe is full of stories, images, protests and debates about the escalating Syrian refugee crisis.
Literary Hub 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

Lizzie Skurnick: a passion for Young Adult fiction

Lizzie Skurnick is still unpacking her boxes of books in a new apartment in Jersey City when I visit her mid-summer. If the success of a publishing venture depends on enthusiasm, two-year-old Lizzie Skurnick Books should have no problem thriving.
The Guardian Link to Story

Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott review – a lyrical, claustrophobic tale of Brooklyn

In this lyrical, claustrophobic tale, neighbors not only become friends but assume the care of one another that their families refuse. They’ll even undertake cross-country quests in pursuit of long-lost daughters and long-cherished dreams – then again, anyone who has actually rented a Brooklyn apartment would probably do as much on behalf of a landlord who hasn’t raised the rent in 14 years.
The Guardian Link to Story


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,, 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.



  • Teaching
  • Copy Editing
  • Editing
  • Writing