Helena Wahlström Henriksson

Professor at Centre for Gender Research

+46 18 471 72 98, +46 72 999 92 55
Mobile phone:
+46 72 999 92 55
Visiting address:
Villavägen 6
752 36 UPPSALA
Postal address:
Box 527
751 20 Uppsala

Short presentation

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Helena Wahlström Henriksson is Professor in Gender Studies and Docent in American literature. Her research interests are cultural studies, feminist theory, masculinity studies, family/kinship studies, childhood studies, women's literature, American literature, and postcolonial studies.


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Fil Kand English and Comparative Literature 1991

Fil Dr American Literature 1997

Docent American Literature 2010

Professor Gender Studies 2016


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My research combines literary and cultural studies methodologies with the critical perspectives of feminist theory and masculinity studies. My previous projects lie within the frameworks of American literary studies and gender studies, but ongoing projects focus on Swedish culture.

My doctoral thesis, Husbands, Lovers, and Dreamlovers: Masculinity and Female Desire in Women’s Novels of the 1970s (Uppsala: Acta 1997), is a feminist study of women’s liberation novels in the US. Masculinity and female heterosexual desire are contextualized historically and discursively, and hence fiction is read alongside non-fictional texts on sexuality, sexual liberation, and women’s liberation that were published in the 1960s and 70s.

Primarily, my research after the PhD has come to focus on understandings of family and kinship, especially fatherhood and gendered parenthood, as well as childhood and orphanhood. New Fathers?: Contemporary American Stories of Masculinity, Domesticity, and Kinship (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010) analyses fatherhood and fathering in non-nuclear families in US fiction and fictional film. Making Home: Orphanhood, Kinship, and Cultural Memory in Contemporary American Novels (Manchester UP, 2014) investigates the orphan figure in contemporary American novels, and the ways that this figure is linked to both literary and social histories of various groups of orphan children in the US. The book was collaboratively written with Prof. Maria Holmgren Troy (Karlstad University) and Dr. Liz Kella (Södertörn University), and financed by the Swedish Research Council 2009-2011.

Another collaborative project, financed by the Swedish Research Council (2017-2020), was Mother Anyway: Literary, Medical, and Media Narratives about Motherhood (Anna Williams PI). More information about that project can be found here: http://www.littvet.uu.se/forskning/forskningsprojekt/mamma-hursomhelst/
Within the framework of that project, I investigated narratives about breastfeeding in handbooks for new parents, representations of maternal bodies in men’s life writing, and more.

An ongoing collaborative project is Single Parents in Swedish Media: On ”Lone” Parenthood 2010-2020. In this project I work with Professor Disa Bergnehr (Linnaeus University) to explore how single parents figure in Swedish newspapers, film and television, and life writing. More information about this project can be found here: https://gender.uu.se/forskning/projekt/ensamstaende-foraldrar-i-svenska-medier/

I headed The Swedish Network for Family and Kinship Studies 2014-2019 (funded by FORTE 2016-18) and currently chair the FAMKIN research group at the Centre for Gender Research.


Recent publications

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Helena Wahlström Henriksson