A native of San Francisco, Gretchen Henderson writes across genres and the arts to cross-pollinate creative and critical practices. Her newest book, Ugliness: A Cultural History (Reaktion Books of London/ University of Chicago Press–released in paperback and in translated editions in 2018: Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish). Her other books include two novels, The House Enters the Street (Starcherone Books, 2012, finalist for the AWP Award Series) and Galerie de Difformité (&NOW Books, winner of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Prize, also a Nobbie Best Book of 2011), as well as a lyric exploration of literature and music, On Marvellous Things Heard (Green Lantern Press, 2011), and a poetry chapbook engaging cartographic history, Wreckage: By Land & By Sea (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). Her nonfiction, fiction, poetry, scholarship, and hybrid writings have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and published in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, The Journal of Artists’ Books, The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing, Performance Research, and other publications, as well as in exhibits and performances. Her recent interviews include BBC, NPR, and national radio programs for Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand. Her work has been reviewed widely, most recently in The New Yorker (“illuminating … artful… exciting”), Literary Review (“provocative … essential”), Macleans (“lively … impressive … terrific”), TIME Magazine (“look no further”), cover story of TLS (“always fascinating … refreshing … necessary”), and the Guardian (“fascinating … absorbing … generous”).
Gretchen’s recent awards include the Annie Clark Tanner Fellowship in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah, Hodson Trust-JCB Fellowship in Creative Arts at Brown University and Washington College, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at MIT, MetaLAB Research Fellow at Harvard University, and other positions. Her work has been heavily influenced by residencies at artist colonies (Millay Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, VSC), by collaborative practice, by cross-disciplinary inquiries, and by teaching. Her recent courses include “Tectonic Essays,” “Writing as Archaeology” (at University of Utah), “Writing and the Museum,” “Forming Fictions,” “Writing Across Genres” (at Georgetown University), “Creative Writing & Visual Culture,” “(un)Writing the Book” (at M.I.T.), “The Art of Text,” “The Literary Hybrid” (at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop), among others. She has taught a wide range of creative writing and literature courses at varied universities and also regularly gives invited lectures and readings, including Rutgers University, Hamilton College, NYU, Princeton University, Hampshire College, New York Art Book Fair @ PS1/MoMA, and elsewhere. Working at the intersection of literature, the arts, environmental humanities, museum studies, disability studies, digital humanities, and music, her research explores aesthetic ecologies, museology as narrative strategy, performative criticism, poetics of embodiment and the body of the book.
Gretchen holds degrees from Princeton University (BA, summa cum laude), Columbia University in New York (MFA), and University of Missouri-Columbia (PhD), as well as a Certificate in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her artistic collaborations include writing opera narratives and librettos, including Cassandra in the Temples and Crafting the Bonds for Guggenheim composer Elena Ruehr (with performances at M.I.T. in 2014 and 2017). She recently was awarded a $200,000 NEH grant as Co-Director with Karen Bassi (Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz) to mount a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Faculty on “Museums: Humanities in the Public Sphere” at Georgetown University in Summer 2019. More can be found in collaborations. Gretchen continues to be a Lecturer at Georgetown University, Affiliated Scholar at Kenyon College, and Research Associate at the University of California-Santa Cruz, while working on new projects. A fifth-generation Californian, she currently lives in Washington, D.C.