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Former Fellow Update: Gretchen Henderson

Gretchen Henderson

Gretchen Henderson served as the Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the Tanner Humanities center from 2017-2019. She has also held appointments in the Department of English at Georgetown University and in the Humanities at the University of California-Santa Cruz. In 2018-2019, she served as co-director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute on Museums: Humanities in the Public Sphere. She was recently appointed Associate Director of Research of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.

To read more of Gretchen's work:
"Reimagining Biodiversity Narratives and Pandemics"
"Life in the Tar Seeps" 

The Annie Clark Tanner Fellowship in Environmental Humanities was established in 2003 in honor of Obert C. Tanner's mother Annie Clark Tanner.  It is administered in collaboration with the College of Humanities’ Environmental Humanities Graduate Program.  The selected Annie Clark Tanner Fellow teaches an Environmental Humanities course, mentors students, delivers a work-in-progress talk during the semester of residence, and participates in the intellectual life of the Tanner Humanities Center and of the Environmental Humanities graduate program. Henderson held this position in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019, and it was held previously by writer Terry Tempest Williams and currently by writer Tiffany Higgins.

Q&A With Gretchen Henderson

This quarantine has simultaneously fast-tracked some commitments while extending or suspending others. My research brought me to Europe a few times this year, and I flew out of Milan the day that Italy announced its first COVID-19 cases. Many personal projects were put on hold trying to support my students to the finish line of the semester. Like everywhere else, my classes at Georgetown University moved online, and my students returned home as far as South Korea. Thanks to multiple research collaborations across geographies, at least, I was already very familiar with Zoom!

Profoundly. I am a fifth-generation Californian and felt grateful to spend extended time in Utah and the greater Basin and Range, which had been more of a gap in my map. I fell in love with the geologic aesthetics of the state, its warm welcome from locals, amid cultural entanglements and contradictions. Travels brought me to the "Mighty Five" national parks, to Land artworks and more remote corners. It was a pleasure to meet some amazing scientists, humanists, and artists, as well as lovely colleagues and students. A special shout-out to Westminster College's Great Salt Lake Institute, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the U's Libraries, Taft-Nicholson, Torrey House Press, among others.

After my second term at the U in Spring 2019 ~ May: Writer-in-Residence in Nature Writing at the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature in Switzerland. July: co-director of an NEH Institute on "Museums: Humanities in the Public Sphere" at Georgetown University. September: provocateur on Narratives for "Biodiversity Revisited" with the Luc Hoffmann Institute/World Wildlife Fund in Vienna, Austria. November: Rome, Italy, for research on stones, thanks to friends from Kenyon College who were teaching study abroad. February: back to Italy for more work on Narratives for "Biodiversity Revisited" at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Lake Como. Along the way, teaching at Georgetown and other commitments.

I have virtually moved to Austin, Texas, where I am the new Associate Director for Research at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. COVID-19 has pushed my transition virtually until I can safely move. Another shout-out: I am fortunate to be new colleagues with former Tanner fellow, Heather Houser (who has a book forthcoming from Columbia University Press on 
Infowhelm: Environmental Art and Literature in an Age of Data -- it was part of her fellowship at the Tanner Center -- everyone should check it out!). Georgetown Medical School's Arts and Humanities Program recommissioned my opera on the climate crisis, Cassandra in the Temples (originally premiered at MIT, with the libretto published in the U's Western Humanities Review) to celebrate their 30th anniversary in Fall 2020, and I continue to follow Great Salt Lake's tar seeps, Land art, and collaborative stewardship.


Last Updated: 6/30/21