About

Molly M. Brookfield is Assistant Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the South (Sewanee) in Tennessee. She writes and teaches at the intersections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history, women’s and gender studies, and urban history.

Her book project, Watching the Girls Go By: A History of Street Harassment in the United States, is a history of men’s harassment of women in public space, commonly known as street harassment. 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-century United States. 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, Brookfield received her PhD in the joint program in History and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from University College London, and a BA in History from Macalester College. She worked for several years in museums, archives, and historic sites.

Short Bio (80 words)

Molly M. Brookfield is Assistant Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the South where she teaches courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history, cultural history, and women’s and gender studies. Her research focuses on histories of sexual violence in the United States and her book project, Watching the Girls Go By: A History of Street Harassment in the United States, is a history of men’s harassment of women in public space, commonly known as street harassment.