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Joanna Scutts

Writer

New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails

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The Art of Unruliness

The names of most of the characters in Saidiya Hartman’s book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments are not familiar. They aren’t supposed to be. History rarely pays attention to the stories of “wayward” girls born into poverty, still less to their desires and dreams. Hartman’s subjects are girls and women who were part of the mass migration of African Americans to the north after Emancipation, who tried any way they could to resist being corralled into the narrow space allotted to them and called freedom.
The New Republic Link to Story
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‘Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?’ Review: Suffragettes Storming the Ballot

Tina Cassidy offers a double portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president whose opposition to suffrage gave way to half-hearted support, and Alice Paul, the single-minded young Quaker who brought to America the radical tactics she learned from the British suffragettes.
Wall Street Journal Link to Story
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How to Survive Howard Hughes’s Hollywood

Karina Longworth’s long-running podcast about classic movies, You Must Remember This, sets out to tell the “secret, and/or forgotten history” of Hollywood in its much-mythologized golden age. Her new book, Seduction, offers an insistent, clear-eyed reminder of the fact that history does not get buried or forgotten by accident, but by design, in order to burnish and elevate the reputations of powerful men, and to cut women down to size.
The New Republic Link to Story
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Single, 40 and childless: Why is that still a problem?

On its surface, Glynnis MacNicol’s memoir seems simple, even mundane: a straight, single woman turns 40 and faces the challenge of defining herself and her life in the absence of marriage and children. As a successful journalist living in New York, MacNicol is aware of the privilege that has allowed her to find fulfillment in work and friendship rather than conventional domesticity.
The Washington Post Link to Story
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Help Me! Author Marianne Power Read All the Self-help Books So You Don’t Have To

The day after New Year’s is dull and gray, and the whole of London looks like a late-stage hangover, muttering desperately about Dry January and other impossible resolutions. It’s a good day to meet with Marianne Power — a day very much like the morning almost exactly five years ago when she found herself poised above the murky, freezing water of the outdoor pond on Hampstead Heath, ready to take a swim.
Vulture 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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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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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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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
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The Manhattan Project Physicist Who Fought for Equal Rights for Women

THIS PIECE IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES ON THE UNSUNG WOMEN OF HISTORY. From an early age, nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu had to travel in order to learn: first 50 miles, then 150—and eventually, to the other side of the world.
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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
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The Mysterious Woman Behind J.P. Morgan’s Library

THIS PIECE IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES ON THE UNSUNG WOMEN OF HISTORY. By all accounts, not much was said in the 1905 meeting between the 68-year-old, walrus-mustached financier J. Pierpont Morgan and the young woman who would become his personal librarian—a gruff greeting, a quick nod of approval, perhaps a handshake.

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