A native of San Francisco, Gretchen E. Henderson writes across genres and the arts to invigorate her critical and creative practices. Her newest book is Ugliness: A Cultural History (Reaktion Books of London/University of Chicago Press, 2015). The book is currently being translated into Turkish. Her other books include two novels, The House Enters the Street (Starcherone Books, 2012, finalist for the AWP Award Series in the Novel and the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award) 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 a number of other publications. Recent interview appearances include NPR, national radio programs for Ireland, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and Georgetown University Forum. 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 Hodson Trust-JCB Fellow at Brown University, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT, MetaLAB Fellow at Harvard University, Affiliated Scholar in Art History and English at Kenyon College, among other fellowships and positions. Her work has been heavily influenced by residencies at artist colonies (most recently the Millay Colony), by collaborative practice, by cross-disciplinary inquiries, and by teaching at a number of colleges and universities. Her recent courses include “Writing and the Museum” and “Creative Writing: An Archaeology” (at Georgetown University), “Creative Writing and Visual Culture” and “(un)Writing the Book” (at M.I.T.), and “The Art of Text” and “The Literary Hybrid/Book Arts” (at the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop), among others. She has taught a wide range of creative writing and literature courses at various 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, art history, museum studies, environmental humanities, disability studies, digital humanities, and music, her research explores aesthetics of deformity, museology as narrative strategy, poetics of (dis)embodiment / (in)accessibility / author(ity), literary appropriations of music, 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, for Guggenheim-winning composer Elena Ruehr (premiered at M.I.T. in 2014 by the Grammy-winning NY vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth). Gretchen received an NEH summer grant to study in Greece to support this project, and her libretto recently was published with her photographs as a 40-page special feature in Western Humanities Review. She is now working on new book projects and, in Spring 2018, will be the Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in Environmental Humanities and Creative Writing at the University of Utah. She continues to be an Affiliated Scholar in Art History at Kenyon College and Research Associate in Literature and Humanities at the University of California-Santa Cruz. A fifth-generation Californian, Gretchen currently lives with her husband and their shepherd mutt in Washington D.C., where she teaches in the English Department at Georgetown University.