A native of San Francisco, Gretchen E. Henderson writes across genres and the arts to invigorate her critical and creative practices. Her books include a hybrid novel, Galerie de Difformité (&NOW Books, winner of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Prize, also a Nobbie Best Book of 2011), a critical volume about literary appropriations of music and silence, 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 second novel, The House Enters the Street (Starcherone Books, 2012), was shortlisted for the AWP Award Series in the Novel and the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. Her fiction, poetry, nonfiction, scholarship, and hybrid writings have been published in a range of journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, The Journal of Artists’ Books, The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (both volumes I and II), Ugliness: The Non-Beautiful in Art and Theory, Performance Research, and a number of other publications. Among other projects, she is completing a new book, Ugliness: A Cultural History (for Reaktion Books of London/University of Chicago Press).
Gretchen’s recent positions include Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT, MetaLAB Fellow at Harvard University, Kresge Faculty Fellow at UCSC, Mary Catherine Mooney Fellow at the Boston Athenaeum, Everett Helm Visiting Fellow at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, and Affiliated Scholar in Art History and English at Kenyon College. 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” (at Georgetown University), “Creative Writing and Visual Culture” and “(un)Writing the Book” (at MIT), “The Art of Text” and “The Literary Hybrid/Book Arts” (at the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop). She has taught a wide range of creative writing and literature courses at other colleges and also regularly gives invited lectures and readings, recently including Hamilton College, New York University, Princeton University, Hampshire College, the New York Art Book Fair @ PS1/MoMA, and elsewhere. Working at the intersection of literature, art history, museum studies, disability studies, digital humanities, music, and environmental studies, 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 the University of Missouri-Columbia (PhD), as well as a Certificate in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She continues the collaborative deformation of Galerie de Difformité (participation invited at: difformite.wordpress.com) and also is engaged in other collaborations, recently completing an opera libretto for a chamber opera, Cassandra in the Temples, composed by the Guggenheim-winning composer, Elena Ruehr (with its premier performance in November 2014 at MIT by the Grammy-winning NY vocal ensemble, Roomful of Teeth). This past summer, Gretchen received an NEH grant to study in Greece to help support this project. A fifth-generation Californian, she recently moved with her husband and their shepherd mutt from Santa Cruz to Washington D.C., where Gretchen is teaching at Georgetown University while continuing to teach summers in the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop. In 2016, she will be the Hodson-JCB Fellow at Brown University, RI, and Washington College, MD.