Jennifer Scanlon is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College. Her research interests include women's and feminist history, women's relationships to social movements, biography, and consumer culture. An award-winning teacher and scholar, she is the author of Until There Is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman (2016), Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown (2009), and Inarticulate Longings: The Ladies' Home Journal, Gender, and the Promises of Consumer Culture (1995), and the editor of Significant Contemporary American Feminists (1999) and The Gender and Consumer Culture Reader (2000). She has also written many scholarly articles on women's and girls' cultural and consumer practices. Among other accolades, Bad Girls Go Everywhere was named a "Book of the Times" by the New York Times, "Book of the Week" by The Week, and Business Book of the Year by Marketplace.
biography, capitalism, women, social movements topic Understanding and Interpreting a Life explores magazine icon Helen Gurley Brown's life as well as the working-class roots of her controversial form of feminism. Both conservatives and feminists objected to Brown’s sex-positive take on women’s lives, but neither quite understood her message or her intended audience. Brown brazenly forged a path for women that claimed economic and sexual freedom, revolutionized women’s magazines and women’s lives, and complicated the ways in which we understand the relationships among women, men, money, and sex. This reading of a collection of letters from her fans expands our understanding of mid-20th-century American life, for men as well as women.