Photo of Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson

Professor, Graduate Supervisor

Degrees:B.A. (McGill), M.A., Ph.D. (York)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2367

Cross-appointed with the Department of English Language and Literature.

Research Interests

  • Canadian literary and cultural studies
  • Settler colonialism
  • Neoliberalism
  • Feminism and gender studies
  • Critical media and policy studies

Current research

I am interested in the relationship between literature and liberal government in the settler colonial context, a conjuncture I first examined in Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canada (2003). That book describes the contours and contradictions of 19th century liberal feminisms projected onto colonial space. It is also a kind of genealogy of a late 20th-century genre, the woman’s survivor story.

I continue to move between the 19th and 20th/21st centuries, but I have turned to the child as a figure through which settler-colonial futures and pasts are imagined and normative programs of liberal selfhood configured. This line of research has taken me from turn-of-the-century pedagogies of freedom through play (‘playing Indian’), to residential schools, to historical reckoning through the lens of childhood trauma, to the current narratives of ‘human development’ and ‘resilience.’ Reconciling Canada: Critical Perspectives on the Culture of Redress (2013), a collection I co-edited, is about the broader discourses and languages of justice-seeking organized around historical injury today.

In another line of research I am zeroing in on the specificities of neoliberalism in settler-colonial contexts, where the logic of ‘privatization’ is inseparable from colonial histories of imposing the private household, and the overlapping questions of how to govern the poor and the Indigenous.

Recent Publications


Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canada. University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Edited collections

(co-edited with Pauline Wakeham) Reconciling Canada: Critical Perspectives on the Culture of Redress. University of Toronto Press, 2013.

(co-edited with Eva C. Karpinski, Ray Ellenwood, and Ian Sowton) Trans/acting Culture, Writing, and Memory: Essays in Honour of Barbara Godard. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.

Chapters in books

“Neoliberal Gothic, Settler Social Imaginaries, and the Case for Decolonization on Two Fronts,” in Land/Relations: Possibilities of Justice in Canadian Literatures. Eds. Larissa Lai and Smaro Kamboureli. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2022.

“The Camp, the School, and the Child: Discursive Exchanges and (Neo)liberal Axioms in the Culture of Redress,” in Reconciling Canada: Critical Perspectives on the Culture of Redress. Eds. Jennifer Henderson and Pauline Wakeham. University of Toronto Press, 2013.

(with Brian Johnson) “Maddin, Melodrama, and the ‘Pre-National,’” in Double-Takes: Intersections Between Canadian Literature and Film. Ed. David Jarraway. University of Ottawa Press, 2012.

“Something not unlike enjoyment”: Gothicism, Catholicism, and Sexuality in Kiss of the Fur Queen” in Unsettled Remains: Canadian Literature and the Postcolonial Gothic. Eds. Cynthia Sugars and Gerry Turcotte. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009.

“At Normal School: Ernest Thomson Seton, L.M. Montgomery, and the New Education.” Home-Work: Postcolonialism, Pedagogy, and Canadian Literature. Ed.   Cynthia Sugars. University of Ottawa Press, 2004.

“Femme(s) Focale(s): Gail Scott’s Main Brides and the Post-Identity Narrative.”  Gail Scott: Essays on Her Works. Ed. Lianne Moyes. Guernica Editions, 2002. 72-100. (Reprint.)

Journal articles

“Residential School Gothic and Red Power: Genre Friction in Rhymes for Young Ghouls,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 42.4 (2018) 43-66.

“Residential Schools and Opinion-Making in the Era of Traumatized Subjects and Taxpayer-Citizens,” Journal of Canadian Studies 49.1 (2015) 5-43.

(co-authored with Keith Denny) “The Resilient Child, Human Development, and the ‘Post-democracy,’” Biosocieties 10.3 (September 2015) 352-378.

“Transparency, Spectatorship, Accountability: Indigenous Families in Settler-State ‘Postdemocracies,’” English Studies in Canada 38.3 Special issue: Childhood and Its Discontents. Forthcoming, Fall 2013.

“Colonial Conjugality in Susan Frances Harrison.” Canadian Literature 212 (Summer 2012).

(with Pauline Wakeham) “Colonial Reckoning, National Reconciliation?: First Peoples and the Culture of Redress in Canada,” English Studies in Canada,  Vol. 34, Issue 4, Spring 2010.

“Can The Third Wave Speak?” Atlantis 32.1 (2007) 68-78.

“Of Bombs, Baking, and Blahniks” (with Lauren Gillingham, Julie Murray, and Janice Schroeder). English Studies in Canada, Readers’ Forum on “The State of Feminism.”31.2-3 (June/September 2005) 22-30.

“How Janey Canuck Became a Person.” Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 13 (Spring 2005) 73-87.

“Fat Shoes” in Tessera 31 special issue on “Fetishism” (Winter 2002) 5-13.

“Critical Canadiana.” American Literary History 13:4 (Winter 2001). 789-813.

Recent Presentations

” ‘Upgrade Life!’: Rupture, Development, and Constellation on the ‘Oblates Lands’ ,” Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies Triennial Conference: Ruptured Commons, Toronto Metropolitan University, July 11, 2022.

“Feeling Gothic, Feeling Resilient: Dilemmas of Recursivity and Recuperation in Post-Statist Imaginaries,” Gothic in a Time of Contagion, Populism and Racial Injustice: Gothic-Without-Borders Conference of the International Gothic Association, Simon Fraser University, March 11, 2021.

“Resilience, Indigeneity, and Human Capital as a Nexus of Neoliberal Governmentality,” Canadian Political Science Association, “Resilience, Recognition, Vulnerability, Apology: Logics and Politics of Care in Neoliberal Canada” panel, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of British Columbia, May 2019.

“Towards a Genealogy of the Settler Public/Private: Land, Labour, and the 19th Century Colonization Company.” Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Regina, May 28, 2018.

“Neoliberal Gothic and Settler Social Imaginaries.” Cultures of Capitalism, Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Conference, Massey University, Wellington. December 6, 2017.

“Genre and the Politics of Public Memory: Rhymes for Young Ghouls and Residential School Gothic.” Mikinaakominis/Transcanadas Conference. University of Toronto. May 26, 2017.

“Reframing Residential School Gothic.” Maladies of the Soul, Emotion, Affect Conference, Canadian Literature Centre, University of Alberta/Canadian Studies Centre, University of Innsbruck. Banff, Alberta, September 25, 2016.

“Gender and Liberal Government in The Manor House of De Villerai.” Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Calgary, May 28, 2016.

“Neoliberal Memorialization and Indigenous Resurgence.”  Research Works lecture series.  Carleton University.  October 9, 2015.

“Settler Sense and Indigenous Resurgence.”  Keynote lecture presented to the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures and the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies.  Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, May 30, 2015.

“Melodrama, Statistics: Indigenous Families in Settler-State ‘Post-Democracies.’” Crossroads in Cultural Studies. Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle. Paris, July 5, 2012.

“Reading Crackpot Today.” Association of Canadian and Quebecois Literatures, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo. May 27, 2012.

“Feeling Better(ment): Third World Canada and Change’s Private Sphere.” Canadian Cultural Studies Association meetings, McGill University, Montreal. Nov. 4, 2011.

“Indigenous Neoliberation in Aotearoa and Canada.” Post/Colonial (Re)Constructions of Indigenous Parenthood and Family Life,  Canadian Anthropology Society meetings, St. Thomas University, Fredericton. May 12, 2011.

(co-presented with Keith Denny) “Childhood resilience, human development, and politics as police.” Mapping the Landscapes of Childhood conference. Lethbridge, Alberta. May 6, 2011.

“Genre and Affect in Settler-State Discourses of Reconciliation.” Presented at Living Together Differently workshop, meeting of the Tauhara Research Network. Taupo, New Zealand. February 23, 2011.

“Comparative Canadian Redress: Reading Tropes of Confinement and Childhood in Two Movements for Reparations.” Narrating the Nation panel, Canadian Law and Society Association, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Concordia University, Montreal, June 2, 2010.

PhD supervisions:

Shaun Stevenson, “Hydrosocial Relations and the Ethics of Indigenous Land Claims”

Amy Chamberlin, “Storying Living Memories about Indian Day Schools: Transforming Reconciliation”

Miranda Lebeil, “The Representation of Indigenous Children and Families in Provincial Child Death Inquiries”