Gretchen E. Henderson | 2022 September
Gretchen Ernster Henderson writes across environmental arts, cultural histories, museums, and interdisciplinary spaces where creative and critical practices cross-pollinate. Crossing genres and arts, performances and exhibitions, her works include two books of nonfiction, two novels, poetry chapbooks, opera libretti, and arts media. Within the climate crisis, her commitments have engaged environmental narratives and aesthetics, poetics and acoustics of space, and collaborative stewardship.
Gretchen still has her copy of A Sand County Almanac from college at Princeton where she was fortunate to study environmental literature with Will Howarth and nonfiction writing with John McPhee, and she continues to integrate Leopold’s work in her writing and teaching. A fifth-generation Californian originally from San Francisco, she has lived throughout the West, Midwest, and East and recently moved with her family to Tucson, AZ. Gretchen feels indebted to the many environments and communities where she has lived that entwine and widen her sense of place.
Gretchen has taught on the faculties at the University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University, University of Utah, MIT, and other colleges and community settings, including the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Recent commitments also have included being a Faculty Fellow at UT-Austin’s Humanities Institute (theme: Environmental Humanities, 2020-2022), Associate Director for Research at the Harry Ransom Center, Co-Director of an NEH Institute on Museums: Humanities in the Public Sphere at Georgetown University with UCSC, and Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah.
Her project on Life in the Tar Seeps: Overlooked Ecologies at Great Salt Lake and Beyond is forthcoming from Trinity University Press and explores how overextractions of natural resources in the Great Basin act as microcosm for planetary trauma and healing.
Gretchen’s opera libretto on the climate crisis, Cassandra in the Temples (set to music by composer Elena Ruehr), originally premiered at MIT and was revived in a virtual pandemic performance in 2021. Her writings have been reviewed in The New Yorker, The Guardian, Literary Review, and TLS, with interviews on NPR and BBC Radio. Her last book on Ugliness: A Cultural History (Reaktion) was translated into Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish editions.
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