University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
UBNow

News and views for UB faculty and staff

Brian Henderson

Published March 9, 2017

A celebration of the life of longtime UB faculty member Brian Henderson will be held at 4 p.m. March 11 in the Center for Tomorrow, North Campus.

Henderson, an internationally recognized scholar in the field of film studies and a former chair of the Department of Media Study, died March 1 in Beechwood Skilled Nursing Facility in Getzville after a long illness. He was 75.

Henderson joined the UB faculty in 1974 as one of the original members of Gerald O’Grady’s pioneering Center for Media Study. Others in that group included avant-garde artists James Blue, Tony Conrad, Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, and Woody and Steina Vasulka.

A film theorist, his published works included “Classical Film Theory” in 1976, “A Critique of Film Theory” in 1980 and “Five Screenplays by Preston Sturges” in 1988.

Henderson also wrote extensively on film subjects for such publications as Film Quarterly, a journal on cinema and media considered one of the oldest and most authoritative academic journals in the U.S. and abroad, as well as Film Comment and Wide Angle. He served on the editorial board of Film Quarterly for many years.

The Center for Media Study evolved into what is now the Department of Media Study, and Henderson twice served as department chair. He retired in 2010.

A native of Chicago, he received a BA in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in 1962 and a JD from Harvard University in 1965.

He served in the Army as an intelligence officer in Saigon during the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of captain. After the war he lived in Boston and re-engaged with his lifelong passions for fiction, writing and film. After his unsolicited review of a film, “Targets,” by young director Peter Bogdanovich was accepted for publication by Film Quarterly, he decided to pursue his interest in film.

He entered a doctoral program in the history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and crafted a course of study in film theory. After earning his PhD in 1973, he taught for a year at San Francisco State University before coming to UB.