Kim Savelson

Contact Information:

Office Phone: 650- 725-1215
Office Location:
Sweet Hall 3rd Floor, Rm 322, 590 Escondido Mall, Stanford, CA 94305

Office Hours:

T/TH 11:30am-01:10pm


Kim Savelson holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature, and an M.A. in both English and Women's Studies. Her recent book "Where the World is Not: Cultural Authority and Democratic Desire in 20th Century American Literature and Thought" (Ohio State University Press, 2009) is at the cross-roads of intellectual history, science and technology studies, and literary criticism.

"Where the World is Not" presents American literature as a staging ground for disputes over the social significance of advances in science and technology. Savelson traces the late 19th century Pure Science movement into debates around Pragmatist thought and emergent 'democratic desire,' posing fundamental questions about the social authority of "education" and "culture" in the modern United States. By focusing on literary texts that centralize science and technological innovation, as well as the writings of Pragmatists and technocrats, Savelson shows how mindsets around "science" and "technology" were fraught with questions about the aesthetics of the "pure" vs. the "applied," ultimately arguing that the early and mid-20th century debates on these questions offer deep insight into how democratic imaginations have developed in connection with our ideas about science, technology, "culture" and art.

Dr. Savelson has been a full time member of the faculty in the Stanford Program in Writing and Rhetoric since 2005. For the past 3 years, she has taught "Design Thinking," a research and live presentation seminar at the crossroads of engineering and art. This course focuses on modern design criticism and "design thinking," exposing students to designerly mindsets; the curriculum pays close attention to the theory and practice of storytelling, play, creativity and empathy, with an added emphasis on design ethics, wicked problems and social design. Savelson also teaches an advanced WR course called "Design Thinking & Science Communication," which offers students a firm grasp of current science communication theory before guiding students through a research and design process that brings about students' own science communications.

Other courses she has taught at Stanford recently are "Happiness Studies: The Art and Science of the Happiness Movement," and "Imagining Others: 21st Century Cosmopolitanism" as well as a first-year WR seminar on "Health Innovations and Communication." Before coming to Stanford, she taught at Harvard University, Brandeis University and UCLA.

Savelson is now at work on a new interdisciplinary project, which investigates design thinking as a 21st Century literacy from the perspective of rhetorical research and education criticism.


Book, "Where the World is Not"