Molly M. Brookfield – PhD Candidate in History and Women's Studies


Molly M. Brookfield is a PhD candidate in the departments of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

Her fields of study include the U.S. post-1865, Cultural History, History of Gender and Sexuality, Place and Space, and Public Humanities.

She is currently writing a dissertation on the 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 dissertation 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 Michigan, Molly received an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from University College London and worked for several years in museums, archives, and historic sites.

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