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Joanna Scutts

Writer

New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails

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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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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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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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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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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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"Genius" and the Masculine Mania of Publishing

In A. Scott Berg’s book, and in the new film, the worn-out trope of the male literary genius gets one more day in the sun.
The New Republic Link to Story
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A Publishing House of Her Own

As a child, Blanche Wolf wanted more than anything to live a life surrounded by books. When she met Alfred Knopf in 1911, she was attracted most of all to his bookishness. Her dream life was simple, heartbreakingly so: “We decided we would get married and make books and publish them.” How could she have known that the hardest part of that dream was the “we”?
The New Republic Link to Story
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30 Books in 30 Days: Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk

The goshawk is not an easy bird to tame, to take under one’s wing.
Literary Hub Link to Story
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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
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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

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