To read more about Gretchen, click here or contact her here. Excerpts from reviews for each book can be found with each here. Gretchen’s interviews include NPR, BBC and international radio programs for Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. More below.
More coming…stay tuned!
“Beauty-Ugliness,” Thinking Aloud on BBC Radio (interview with Laurie Taylor), 18 July 2018.
“Ugly Fashion,” Blueprint for Living on Australian National Radio (interview with Jonathan Green), 30 November 2017.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” CAA.Reviews (review by Agata A. Gomółka), 31 May 2017.
Henderson’s approach is generous and inclusive. She makes good use of data from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, gender studies, philosophy, literature, history, and art history…Ugliness: A Cultural History is a highly readable, erudite, and compelling account that opens up many avenues for further consideration of its topic.
“Why We Chose It,” The Kenyon Review (review on “A Philosophy of Stones” by Natalie Shapero), 8 May 2017.
When we choose pieces for KR [Kenyon Review], we sometimes look for writing that asks us to imagine, as one entity, a set of disparate objects or occurrences that have not been previously yoked together in any kind of formal way. Out of this collecting and refining comes something that means something new. This is certainly the case with “A Philosophy of Stones,” Gretchen E. Henderson’s beautiful and wide-ranging essay…
“Artist Feature: Giving of Oneself: An Interview with Gretchen E. Henderson,” Phoenix Rising Collective (interview with Traci Curri), 2 November 2016.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Sunday Morning on Radio New Zealand (interview with Wallace Chapman), 30 October 2016.
“A History of Ugly,” At Night with Dan Riendeau on Calgary Newstalk in Canada (interview with Dan Riendeau), 4 October 2016.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Late Night Live on Australia Radio National (interview with Phillip Adams), 3 August 2016.
Dear Listener, I urge you to rush out and get Gretchen Henderson’s beautiful book on ugliness–Ugliness: A Cultural History.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Choice (review by J. M. Carvalho), August 2016.
Henderson has written a multifarious book about ugliness, exploring the subject in its multiple forms … Engagingly written and copiously illustrated.
“Hot summer reads on the good and the bad of ugly (ideas),” Toronto Star (chosen by Sarah Murdoch), 31 July 2016.
Full-blown examination of deformity through history—the medieval gargoyles, monsters, human-animal hybrids in so-called ‘freak shows’ and the like.
“Operatic Opus,” C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College (feature story by Meghan Livie), 22 July 2016.
The blurred lines between past and present, fact and fiction, and between the protagonist and her manuscript, call attention to what Henderson calls the “book as body,” a reoccurring theme throughout Crafting the Bonds.
“Ugliness, in the Cry of the Beholder,” Cover Story for the Times Literary Supplement (review by Ian Ground), 1 July 2016.
Gretchen Henderson’s cultural history of ugliness skates, at an entertainingly high speed, across large swathes of territory, cultural, historical and biological, always fascinating…[I]t is certainly refreshing to have so many actual examples…[T]he existence and resistance of the ugly is a reminder – urgent and intense and necessary – that the world does not exist for us alone.
“Simply Hideous,” Literary Review (review by Alberto Manguel), April 2016.
Ugliness: A Cultural History is a provocative book because, while exploring our relationship to that which we brand as ugly (or beautiful), Gretchen Henderson forces us to reflect on our tastes and fears, our social conventions and our everyday notions of justice. Such a call to attention is always very useful; in our prejudiced age it has become essential.
“Review of Ugliness: A Cultural History,” History Today (review by Catherine Berger), April 2016.
Gretchen E. Henderson approaches her topic through an impressive number of examples, spanning disciplines, mediums, usages, geographies and chronologies and including works of fine and popular art, architecture, mythology, cultural moments, historical facts and human individuals and groups…The focus on the body also means that Henderson includes how ugliness manifests itself in the body of the perceiving subject: in all its senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and the ‘sixth sense’ of the mind and interpretation. As a result the author manages to take the discussion of ugliness into its own territory, beyond a mere opposition to beauty. This book provides an engaging and accessible cultural history that is informative and entices the reader to see things in a different perspective.
“Review of Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Art Libraries Society of North America (review by Amanda Woodward), March 2016.
Henderson’s multidisciplinary approach to the topic makes the book a valuable resource for scholars throughout the arts and humanities. This would also be a useful text for freshman seminars because the writing style fosters discussion and critical thinking. Overall, the book is a highly recommended addition to academic and art libraries.
“When Things Get Ugly,” Pop Matters (review by Sara Rodriguez), 26 January 2016.
Engaging ugliness beyond the realm of art and aesthetics and into the realm of sound, sight, and embodiment, Ugliness: A Cultural History makes a valuable contribution to the contemporary study of ugliness and its myriad functions in Western culture. Henderson traces how ugliness moves “beyond ‘ugly’ anomalous individuals and resistant ugly groups to break down borders through ‘ugly’ senses that place all human beings into an equal camp”.
“Gretchen Henderson at Kramerbooks,” Washington City Paper (by Victoria Gaffney), 22 January 2016.
Expect Henderson to challenge preconceived notions about this complicated concept. An idea that evades simple definition, ugliness is not simply the antithesis of beauty. There’s something compelling about its layered imperfections and its shifting meaning.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” The Rumpus (by Zakiya Harris), 14 January 2016.
Henderson leaves no sense of the word unexamined as she closely observes various cases of ugliness, wandering through centuries with a keen eye, nose, ear, and mouth…Henderson defends her analysis of ugliness beautifully, using poetic language that reads less like an art history textbook and more like philosophical musings.
“The Truth about Ugliness (It Ain’t Pretty),” National Public Radio (interview with Colin McEnroe), 5 January 2016.
“The Power of Human Ingenuity, and Other News,” The Paris Review (by Dan Piepenbring), 18 December 2015.
“The Ugly Truth,” The New Yorker (review by Vinson Cunningham), 15 December 2015.
In her wide-ranging and frequently illuminating study, “Ugliness: A Cultural History,” published this month, Gretchen Henderson traces the connections—some obvious, but many not at all—between aesthetic norms and cultural anxieties, from antiquity to the present day… Henderson artfully links the Polyphemus myth to the “hierarchy of species” found in Aristotle’s “Generation of Animals.” Aristotle’s “downhill slope” is topped by men, followed by women, then devolves into “hybrid offspring” like satyrs and fauns. This motion, from powerful to exoticized, illustrates the trick—later employed at the height of phrenological and eugenic crazes—of forcing the worth, and, ultimately, the humanity, of certain individuals to correspond with often arbitrary aesthetic categories…In a particularly exciting section of “Ugliness,” on “ugly sound,” Henderson excavates the self-contradictory but undeniable fact that aesthetic advances—discoveries of new species of beauty—have often been spurred on by ugliness…Beauty does more than simply seduce: it masks and perfumes, freezes moral categories in place. Ugliness—with all its seams unconcealed—is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.
“U-G-L-Y, You Now Have an Alibi,” Maclean’s Magazine, Canada (review by Brett Josef Grubisic), 22 November 2015.
We tend to use the word confidently, as though ugliness has a self-evident and unchanging meaning. In fact, Henderson writes, the ‘shape-shifting’ term has a long, strange, and ‘unruly history.’ Breaking her lively study into sections –‘ugly ones,’ ‘ugly groups,’ ‘ugly senses’–she touches on an impressive assortment of cultural eras in order to form a rather, well, unbecoming picture of human fears, anxieties and prejudices . . . through this well-illustrated study, she makes a terrific case for how we’ve regulated the borders of acceptability and mistreated whatever crosses the line.
“Interview with Georgetown University Forum,” Office of Scholarly Publications, Georgetown University (interview with Carole Sargent, Director), video snippet posted 20 November 2015 (full interview forthcoming).
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” TIME Magazine (review by Lily Rothman), 12 November 2015.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is ugliness. For proof, look no further than the concept’s own history, most recently traced by Gretchen E. Henderson. . . . ‘Rather than mere binaries,’ Henderson writes, ‘ugliness and beauty seem to function more like binary stars.’ They orbit and attract each other, and we can admire both.”
“Taking on Ruehr’s Cassandra,” Boston Musical Intelligencer (Liane Curtis), 2015 November 12.
The poetry is sometimes ethereal and abstract, often profound…Henderson’s libretto itself, with its visual aspects of poésie concrète, already offers a multi-media experience.
“Cappella Clausra to Perform in Boston and Newton,” The Enterprise (Keith Powers), 2015 November 10.
“The part that really strikes me is the fabulous libretto that Gretchen has written, making the story contemporary,” [conductor Amelia LeClair] says. “How she points out that we’re warning about climate change, and we’re not listening at all. That makes it a timely opera, not just a re-creation of some ancient Agamemnon story.”
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” The Green Room (interview with Orla Barry for Irish National Radio), 9 November 2015.
“The Opposite of Ugly,” Design Observer (includes mention of Ugliness by Jessica Helfant and Michael Bierut, 19:15 to end), 23 October 2015.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Newstalk (interview with Sean Moncrieff for Irish National Radio), 16 October 2015.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History – a Review,” The Guardian (review by Kathryn Hughes), 7 October 2015.
This is a fascinating meditation on a slippery subject . . . even such a relatively capacious definition won’t do for Gretchen Henderson, the author of this absorbing “cultural history” of ugliness . . . This is all kinds of clever . . . enjoy Henderson’s wide-ranging field of reference . . . It is the cultural studies equivalent of kissing a frog.
“Can Poetry Survive in the Wild? Encouraging Random Encounters with Art,” LitHub (feature includes my Broadsided poetry collaboration with artist Elizabeth Terhune), 28 July 21015.
“Passports and Layovers from Lorelei and Roomful of Teeth,” New Music Box (review of Cassandra in the Temples by Matthew Guerrieri), 5 December 2014.
“Complex Portraiture, Fragmented Yet with Teeth,” Boston Musical Intelligencer (review of Cassandra in the Temples by Sudeep Agarwala), 24 November 2014.
“Visual Essays,” Essay Daily (interview with Sarah Minor), 17 November 2014.
“Classical Notes,” The Boston Globe (article by David Weininger on composer Elena Ruehr’s upcoming premiers, including our collaboration on the opera Cassandra in the Temples), 6 November 2014.
“Sounds,” The Artery (article by Keith Powers on composer Elena Ruehr’s upcoming premiers, including our collaboration on the opera Cassandra in the Temples), 5 November 2014.
“Interview with Gretchen Henderson,” Monkeybicycle (interview with Edward Rathke), November 2013.
“People of the Book,” Ploughshares (curated interview series), 2013-14.
“On Experimental Writing,” The Literary Map (article by Ted Pelton, referencing The House Enters the Street), Fall 2013.
“Potential Publication; or, A Brief History of Lost and Found Time,” Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (invited post on “publication”), November 2013.
“Transforming Artist Books: Future Visions and Versions of the Codex,” Tate Museums UK (article by Johanna Drucker, referencing Galerie de Difformité), August 2013.
“The Gretchen E. Henderson Experience,” The Saturday Morning Post (by Joe Ponepinto), April 2013.
“A Quest of Questions,” The Delphi Quarterly (interview with Joe Ponepinto), April 2013.
“Living Words,” Fourteen Hills (interview with Kendra Schynert), March 2013.
“The Perfect and The Imperfect,” Gently Read Literature (review essay on The House Enters the Street, by Glenda Burgess), 2013.
“You Can’t Step into the Same River Even the First Time,” Toad Suck Review (review essay on the Galerie de Difformité, by Skip Fox), 2013.
“This Baggy Monster,” Kenyon Review Online (review Galerie de Difformité, by John Brown Spiers), winter 2013.
“Book Review: The House Enters the Street,” Wordgathering (by Michael Northern), December 2012.
“Pulp to Pixels: Artists Books in the Digital Age,” Library of Congress blog (exhibit review that includes Galerie de Difformité, by Jimi Jones), 30 November 2012.
“The One Who’s Going Home,” The Collagist (interview with Joseph Scapellato), 30 October 2012.
“Book Review: The House Enters the Street,” Necessary Fiction (review by Jess Stoner), 29 October 2012.
“Book Review: The House Enters the Street,” Monkeybicycle (review by Joe Ponepinto), 7 October 2012.
“A Monumental Fusion of the Arts,” Literary Aficionado (review of The House Enters the Street by Grady Harp), 4 September 2012.
“Deforming Forms with Gretchen E. Henderson,” Bad at Sports: Contemporary Art Talk (interview with Caroline Picard), 21 March 2012.
“Caution! Do not read Galerie de Difformité (or this recommendation) straight from start to finish!“, The Lit Pub (review by Angie Spoto), 10 February 2012.
“To Tailor This Book Around a Budding Body,” The Collagist (interview with Joseph Scapellato), 22 January 2012.
“Radical Books of 2011,” Post Position (review of Galerie de Difformité by Nick Montfort), 6 January 2012.
“Telling It Slant,” Genesis (profile by Paul Totah), 1 January 2012.
Selected for “Nobbie Best Books of 2011,” The Nervous Breakdown (by Brad Listi), 5 December 2011.
“Kenyon Review Reading Recommendations” (Galerie de Difformité recommended by Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky), 1 December 2011.
“Book Review of Galerie de Difformité,” Wordgathering (review by Michael Northern), 1 December 2011.
“We Are Already There,” HTML Giant (review of On Marvellous Things Heard, by August Evans), 10 November 2011.
“Book Review of On Marvellous Things Heard,” Another Chicago Magazine (review by Mairead Case), 20 September 2011.
“On Marvellous Things Heard,” Small Press Review (review by Marc Schuster), 3 September 2011.
“Generating Genres,” The Kenyon Review blog (interview as craft talk), 7 July 2010.
“Galerie de Difformité,” We Are Homer (interview by Traci Brimhall), 25 April 2010.
“Tea with the Undertaker,” The Stentor (profile by Irene Ruiz Dacal and Madeeha Khan), 26 February 2010.
“Questions of Collaboration,” Broadsided Press (interviewed by Elizabeth Bradfield, with artist Elizabeth Terhune), 1 December 2009.