Henrietta Stanford - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Henrietta Stanford

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Dr Henrietta Stanford

Associate Lecturer

Hen Stanford’s research engages with questions relating to the problem of destructiveness, war, issues of radical politics and social change, and the tensions and intersections of ‘psychic’ and ‘political’ struggle – in their specifically gendered dimensions.

Summoning the question – or problem – of the ‘violent woman’ and, in particular, the female subject who takes up arms against the State, her doctoral thesis was broadly anchored around the West German militant ‘Ulrike Meinhof’ as a figure in and through which a constellation of narratives, anxieties, and desires, come to be played out.

Tracking the representational vicissitudes of the ‘female militant’ and the surfeit of affectivity (from anger to awe) that follows in her wake, the thesis did so via a sustained engagement with Yvonne Rainer’s Journeys From Berlin/1971, (1980), Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977, (1988), and Silvia Kolbowski’s A Few Howls Again?, (2010). Three works, that is, whose returns to the 1970’s era of political violence and state repression, are staged from divergent geographical and temporal locations, and with intensely varying effects. 

Exploring the status and stakes of each work’s engagement with Meinhof and her ‘radical’ transformation – her journey from high profile journalist to condemned ‘terrorist’ – the project’s myriad shifts across time, medium, and locale, found common cause in the question of resistance for women, but also in the question of resistance to Meinhof. It was attentive, in other words, to the psychic and political challenges of engaging with the “female journalist turned terrorist” and the knots of identificatory investment and aversion she continues to inspire. 

Other guiding concerns addressed throughout the project related to the vexed nature of identification, the notion of trans-generational ‘haunting’, the politics of empathy, and the psychology and politics of the group subject.


  • 2015-2016, MA History of Art: Special Option, Sex and Violence in American Art 1960-Now, co-teaching with Professor Mignon Nixon


  • The Courtauld Institute Of Art
    2010-2014. PhD. Affective Afterlives: Encountering ‘Ulrike Meinhof’ in Yvonne Rainer’s Journeys from Berlin/1971 (1980), Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977 (1988), and Silvia Kolbowski’s A Few Howls Again? (2010) with Professor Mignon Nixon
  • Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York
    2010-2011. Independent Study Program, Critical Studies Helena Rubinstein Fellow, working with Professor Rosalyn Deutsche.
  • The Courtauld Institute Of Art, 2008-2009. MA (Distinction), ‘Informed: Art, Sex, War and Gender Politics since 1960’, with Mignon Nixon. Thesis title: ‘Seeing Voices and Hearing Faces? On Ethics, Alterity and (Mis)Recognition in the Work of Silvia Kolbowski and Krzysztof Wodiczko’.
  • The Courtauld Institute Of Art, 2005-2008. BA, (First Class Honours). Thesis title: ‘Performing Age and Gender in the Photographic Portraits of Louise Bourgeois’.

Research interests

  • psychoanalysis and politics
  • feminism
  • political violence and terrorism
  • 1970s West German culture and politics
  • contemporary art
  • protest, activism and resistance

Conference papers

  • ‘Staying Anxious’: Encountering Ulrike Meinhof in Silvia Kolbowski’s A Few Howls Again?, at Feminist Object(ive)s: Writing Art Histories, a workshop, University of York, May 2013.
  • ‘Scenes of Resistance: The Return of Ulrike Meinhof in Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977’, The 2013 Courtauld Institute of Art Post-Graduate Symposium: Showcasing New Research, Courtauld Institute of Art, March 2013.
  • ‘On Revenants, Resistance, and the Return of Ulrike Meinhof in Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977’, Courtauld Research Forum, January 2013. Organised by Dr Klara Kemp-Welch.
  • ‘Anxious Times: Returning to Ulrike Meinhof in Silvia Kolbowski’s A Few Howls Again?’, at the open seminar, Dead Subjects Speak – A Discussion with Silvia Kolbowski About Her 2010 Video, A Few Howls Again?, chaired by Mignon Nixon and Juliet Mitchell, Courtauld Research Forum, February 2012.
  • ‘Staying Anxious: Death and Wakefulness in Gerhard Richter’s October 18 1977′‘, at Panorama: New Perspectives on Richter symposium, Tate Modern, October 2011. Discussants included Briony Fer and Mark Godfrey.
  • ‘Facing Ulrike Meinhof: Politics, Resistance and Psychoanalysis in Silvia Kolbowski’s A Few Howls Again?’ , Whitney Museum of American Art, May 2011. Discussants: Emily Apter and Benjamin Buchloh.
  • Organised and co-chaired ‘Why War? Psychoanalysis, Politics, and the Return to Melanie Klein: A Discussion with Jacqueline Rose’, The Courtauld Research Forum, June 2009

Other academic activity

  • Helena Rubinstein Fellowship, Whitney Independent Study Program, 2011.
  • The Paule Vezelay Prize for Best Modern Essay, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2008.

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