Tuesday, May. 8, 2012 1:59 pm


Astrid Henry

Associate Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies

Louise Noun Chair in Women’s Studies

The chair was endowed in 1985 by Joseph Rosenfield ’25 in honor of his sister, Louise Rosenfield Noun ’29. It was previously held by Mary Lynn Broe.

Professor Henry joined the English Department in 2008 after seven years in the Program in Women's Studies and the Department of English at Saint Mary's College. Before that time, she held teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and Milwaukee. She earned tenure at Grinnell in 2010 after two years as visiting associate professor. She teaches both in English and in the Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies curriculum, and since tenure has served as chair of the GWSS major.

Professor Henry’s scholarship combines varied approaches, including cultural studies, intellectual history, feminist historiography, and literary “close reading.” She focuses especially on the generational change, difference, and intergenerational dynamics among “waves” of feminism. Her 2004 book, Not My Mother’s Sister: Generational Conflict and Third Wave Feminism, has built a strong readership base in Women’s Studies across disciplines and around the world. It has been excerpted in several collections and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and has brought her recognition as a leader in her field. She continues to publish regularly, with several articles in the pipeline at any given time. With Erica Hougland ’10, she contributed the chapter “Never Ending Questions: The Politics of Self-Critique” to the volume And Finally We Meet: Intersections and Intersectionality Among Feminist Activists, Academics, and Students(2012). This collaboration demonstrates her commitment to sharing her scholarship with students and helping them begin their own scholarly careers. She is currently working on a book studying memoirs and autobiographies published by U.S. feminist scholars and activists since the 1970s. Her essay “Waves” was recently published in Rethinking Women’s and Gender Studies (Routledge, 2012), an anthology which explores the field’s foundational assumptions and provides critical genealogies of key terms within GWSS.

Her pedagogy is grounded in the belief that the classroom is a collaborative space where the teacher and her students come together to learn and think through complex ideas. In company with her scholarship, her teaching embodies varied styles, from formal lectures to discussions and small-group activities. She places special importance on writing in all of her courses, assigning different types of papers, from personal reflections to critical analyses to longer research projects. Colleagues and students alike admire her strong command of theory and analysis in a wide range of contexts for Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. She is equally admired for her extraordinary organizational skills and her sympathetic presence both in and outside of the classroom.

Professor Henry was a major contributor to raising the institutional presence of and designing the structure for the new Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies major. She has served on the Humanities Center Advisory Board and the Noun Program Board, and will represent the humanities on the Curriculum Committee for 2012-13. She has been a faculty mentor for the Liberal Arts in Prison Program and a reader for the Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. Beyond Grinnell, she was elected Secretary and Executive Committee Member of the National Women’s Studies Association in 2006 as well as a member of the Governing Council, and was reelected to this position in 2010. She has also been a member of the organization’s Finance Committee since 2008.