Gretchen E. Henderson is a Senior Lecturer at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and a 2020-2022 Faculty Fellow in the Humanities Institute.
Her current research and teaching interests focus on environmental arts and humanities, aesthetic histories, collaborative stewardship of cultural heritage, and performative archives. Based in creative writing and literature, her work has been shaped by interdisciplinary approaches across the arts, environmental studies, cultural history, music, comparative media studies, museum studies, disability studies and health humanities, and public humanities.
Henderson is the author of four books, including two works of nonfiction, Ugliness: A Cultural History (Reaktion Books of London/University of Chicago Press 2015) and On Marvellous Things Heard (Green Lantern Press 2011). Her novels include The House Enters the Street (Starcherone Books 2012) and Galerie de Difformité (&NOW Books/Northwestern University Press 2011), alongside poetry and photographic chapbooks, exhibited media works, and performed opera libretti. Her writings have been published in Ecotone, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Notre Dame Review, Iowa Review, Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, Performance Research, The Journal of Artists’ Books, The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals and anthologies. Her latest book was translated into Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish editions with interviews on NPR and BBC Radio.
Her fifth book—Life in the Tar Seeps: Overlooked Ecologies at Great Salt Lake and Beyond—is forthcoming from Trinity University Press. An excerpt was a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2020, with invited arts-based offshoots through the Holt-Smithson Foundation, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and co-authored publications with the Luc Hoffmann Institute/WWF in Conservation Biology and Nature Sustainability.
Henderson has served on the faculties at Georgetown University, University of Utah, MIT, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, and other colleges and community settings. Some recent commitments include being the Associate Director for Research at the Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin, Co-Director of an NEH Institute on Museums: Humanities in the Public Sphere at Georgetown University with the University of California-Santa Cruz, and the Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. Her work has been supported by a number of fellowships, including the Hodson Trust-JCB Fellowship in Creative Arts at Brown University and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at MIT. Her recent environmental writing projects benefited from immersions at the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature in Switzerland, Taft-Nicholson Center for Environmental Humanities in Montana, and Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy.
A musician by training, she is interested in acoustic ecologies and communal practices of listening, meditation, and other processes to sound the gaps of cultural and institutional histories, to facilitate participatory spaces for social justice and equity.
Social histories and cultural representations, creative writing and literary arts, environmental and health humanities, collaborative stewardship of cultural heritage, public humanities.