Molly Henderson entered the American Studies department in 2019 with interests in gender studies, media studies, and urban studies. In particular, she focuses on depictions of women and girls in popular culture, imagery of suburbia, representations of the American family, and popular memory and nostalgia. Her undergraduate thesis, “Rebuilding Dream Images: Nostalgia for the Home, the Family, and the Housewife in the Suburban Sitcom,” analyzed the ways in which televisual depictions of suburbia and its archetypal housewife figure are concretized as nostalgic ideals in popular memory, with the ultimate effect of influencing conceptions of family and suburban life in reality, past and present. Molly graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University with a B.A. in American Studies and Urban Studies. She has also completed internships with the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Where did you go for undergrad and what did you study?
I majored in American Studies and Urban Studies and minored in World Literature at Northwestern University.
What are you studying now?
I’m new to the program, so right now I’m focusing on expanding my knowledge of the cultural studies methodology. I’m also increasingly interested in American myth-making, domestic labor, and material culture.
What brought you to GW to continue your studies?
For me, American Studies was love at first sight. I believe interdisciplinarity is the most interesting way to approach research questions. I chose GW based on the department. The faculty as well as graduate students are not only incredibly accomplished, but also wonderfully supportive. I’m also thrilled to have access to the breadth of museums and archives that D.C. offers.
What piece of advice would you give, or what piece of advice has been influential to you about living around GW and in DC?
Get a bike!
If you were tasked with introducing yourself to a person only by reccomending to them one film, which would you choose and why?
Lady Bird, because its portrayal of mother-daughter relationships is one of the most complicated and heartrending I’ve seen, and we need more movies that take teenage girls and girlhood seriously as subjects (if they’re written and directed by women, so much the better). It also indulges my nostalgia, as a former Catholic school girl and member of female friendships.
Imagine you're up to bat as a Major League Baseball player. You need a walk-up song. What is it?
Is “American Girl” by Tom Petty too on the nose for a page on the American Studies website? If so, “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks.