Joan Jacobs Brumberg Biography



Joan Jacobs Brumberg
is a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and Professor Emerita at Cornell University where she had a unique interdisciplinary appointment in history, human development and gender studies. She is internationally known for her research and writing about the history of American girls, including the prize-winning book Fasting Girls: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa As a Modern Disease  (1988) and the popular The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls (1997) which is a classic on college campuses. In 2004, Brumberg published Kansas Charley: The Boy Murderer, a true story of adolescent boys and violence in l9th century America which was used in the campaign against the juvenile death penalty. She wrote the introduction for Lauren Greenfield’s Girl Culture as well as Thin.

Brumberg has been a guest on Today, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fresh Air as well as many other American and Canadian television and radio programs that cover social issues concerning youth and especially girls. Her books have been translated into a number of languages and she appeared in Katherine Gilday’s Canadian Broadcasting documentary, “The Famine Within” (1990), a cultural exploration of the pursuit of thinness in North America, as well as the NOVA film (2002), “Dying to Be Thin”, a scientific investigation of eating disorders and their causes and treatment. In 2005, The Body Project  inspired a play of the same name at Horizons Theatre in Washington DC, the oldest feminist theatre company in North America.

In addition to being a fellow of the Society of American Historians, Brumberg’s has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation and The MacDowell Colony.  She received her B.A. from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in history from The University of Virginia. She is the grandmother of two teenage girls who live, as she does, in Ithaca, New York.