Professions of Intimacy

My current book project “Professions of Intimacy: Work, Reproduction and the Professional Woman in the Progressive-Era United States” employs historicist and feminist methodologies to examine how U.S. women writers intervened in professional institution formation during the Progressive Era. Professionalism as Americans practice it today rewards self-regarding behaviors that appear awkwardly aligned, if not incompatible, with collectivist goals. My dissertation establishes that this paradigm was not inevitable. At the turn of the twentieth century, a crucial moment in U.S. labor history, women’s professionalism was a site of radical possibility. Reading novels, short stories, essays, journalism, and correspondence, I demonstrate that Progressive Era theorists regarded professional women as crucial allies of labor organizers and working-class women. Moreover, professional women during this period insisted that capitalists and professional institutions alike consider the social conditions of women’s reproductive lives.