Dr. Molly M. Brookfield is Assistant Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the South (Sewanee) in Sewanee, Tennessee. She writes and teaches at the intersections of 19th and 20th c. U.S. history, women’s and gender history, and urban history.
She is currently writing a history of street harassment in the United States, entitled Watching the Girls Go By: Sexual Harassment in the American Street, 1850-1980. Drawing on a wide range of archival materials—including newspaper reports, anti-street harassment legislation, ethnographic interviews, and activists’ writings—this project traces the emergence, normalization, and persistence of street harassment in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It looks at early activism against street harassment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and asks how public discourse normalized street harassment so that it was viewed as benign and, eventually, the “right” of white, middle-class, heterosexual men by the mid-twentieth century. In particular, it focuses on the quietest, most trivialized forms of harassment, such as ogling or staring, and considers how these intrusive behaviors have restricted women’s free movement through American urban space throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Before coming to Sewanee, Dr. Brookfield received her PhD in History and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan and an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from University College London. She worked for several years in museums, archives, and historic sites.