Thursday, March 22, 2012

What is Julie Berebitsky reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Julie Berebitsky, author of Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire.

Her entry begins:
My scholarly research interests have always centered on the question of how changing cultural understandings of gender affect everyday life, so I spend a lot of time reading about gender! I mostly focus on historical accounts, but I’ve really enjoyed two recent books that speak to our moment in time.

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, left my head spinning—and not just because of the wonderfully mix of poetry, comic strips, and even a recipe that keeps company with more traditional essays. My head was turning round and round by the sheer variety of gender identities the authors described. The internet has opened up a space for creating communities that would have been impossible even a decade or so ago which has been wonderfully freeing for countless individuals. I was especially moved by Julia Serano’s “Performance Piece,” which takes on gender scholars like me who...[read on]
About Sex and the Office, from the publisher:
In this engaging book—the first to historicize our understanding of sexual harassment in the workplace—Julie Berebitsky explores how Americans’ attitudes toward sexuality and gender in the office have changed since the 1860s, when women first took jobs as clerks in the U.S. Treasury office.

Berebitsky recounts the actual experiences of female and male office workers; draws on archival sources ranging from the records of investigators looking for waste in government offices during World War II to the personal papers of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown and Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem; and explores how popular sources—including cartoons, advertisements, advice guides, and a wide array of fictional accounts—have represented wanted and unwelcome romantic and sexual advances. This range of evidence and the study’s long scope expose both notable transformations and startling continuities in the interplay of gender, power and desire at work.
Learn more about Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire at the Yale University Press website.

Berebitsky is professor of history and director of the Women’s Studies Program at Sewanee: The University of the South. She is the author of Like Our Very Own: Adoption and the Changing Culture of Motherhood.

Writers Read: Julie Berebitsky.

--Marshal Zeringue