Joanna Scutts


New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails


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

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

FilmStruck Critic Alicia Malone Mourns the Service and Celebrates The Female Gaze

Lovers of the classic- and indie-film streaming service FilmStruck (a group that includes all of your favorite directors) will be familiar with the lively Australian host and critic Alicia Malone. Her passionate and erudite introductions and interviews, onscreen and on the FilmStruck podcast, were central to the recently (but maybe not permanently?)
Vulture Link to Story

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

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

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

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

Altered states of storytelling at the L.A. Times Festival of Books

The L.A. Times Book Festival, held over the weekend of April 21-22, is an annual celebration of reading and literary culture in a town often stereotyped as not exactly bookish. But Hollywood runs on stories, so this year the festival debuted a new strand of programming, Newstory, to lead visitors “beyond the book” and showcase innovations in a variety of media — from music to podcasting to virtual reality — and to grapple with the meaning, and future, of storytelling.
Nieman Storyboard Link to Story

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 roaring (drunk) 20s: literature's biggest party animals

The life of a writer can be a quiet business, spent hunched over a manuscript in a quiet countryside house. In a contemporary twist, writers usually live God-knows-where in order to teach in a creative writing program. But for much of the 20th century, writers flocked to cities. This was particularly true in the 1910s and 1920s, when modernism was exploding onto the scene.
The Guardian Link to Story

Meet the “Queen of Paris Cocktails”

“I think every American wants to end up in Paris,” says Forest Collins, explaining her own journey, thirteen years ago, from Seattle to the city of light. But back then, its myriad charms did not include a serious bar scene. “I spent a few years not drinking cocktails in Paris, because there were no cocktails in Paris — and the wine is so good that you can forget about them.”.
Tales of the Cocktail Link to Story

Fall In Love with Your Job, Get Ripped Off by Your Boss

Workers are tantalized by the proximity of a ‘dream job,’ keeping their noses pressed against the glass in the belief that the sheer force of their longing will shatter it. “Do what you love” is not a new mantra. Since at least the 1980s, when individualistic ambition was elevated to a national virtue, Americans have taken for granted that good work should reward the soul.
In These Times 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