Readings — From the May 2013 issue

Case Study (c. 1904)

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By Joshua Cohen, from Attention! A (Short) History, published this month in the United Kingdom by Notting Hill Editions. Cohen, a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, is the author, most recently, of a short-story collection, Four New Messages.

a) You are a woman working as the sole typist at a factory. You work on the office floor above the production floor. Last week you’d typed an interoffice memo from the owner to the manager telling him to “prepare a report on the suitability of employing women in our workplace,” but then this week you typed an interoffice memo from the manager to the production chiefs telling them to “prepare reports on the effect on our workplace of employing women,” which implied, to you at least, that a decision had been made, that female workers would be hired. You are conflicted. You are confused.

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