Photo of Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson


Degrees:B.A. (McGill), M.A., Ph.D. (York)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2367
Office:1911 Dunton Tower

Cross-appointed with the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies

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.


Dalie Giroux, The Eye of the Master: Figures of the Québécois Colonial Imaginary. Carleton Library Series/McGill Queen’s UP, 2023 — translation of Dalie Giroux, L’oeil du maître. Mémoire d’encrier, 2021.

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, 2023.

“Resilience.”  Sage Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies, Sage Publications (Oakland, CA: 2020)

“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.

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”

Trycia Bazinet, “Is the Water leaving? World-Making in the Settler-Colonial Context at Abitibi Lake, Quebec, Unceded Abitibiwinni Aki (Anicinape Territory)”