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Kirsten T. Saxton

Professor of English
The Lorry I. Lokey Endowed Chair in Ethics


BA, Mills College
MA, University of California, Davis
PhD, University of California, Davis

Professional Interests

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, adaptation, affect theory, conceptual archive theory, crime narratives, critical race studies, digital humanities, disability studies, feminist studies, film and media studies, ghosts and haunting, place studies, situated geographies, queer theory


Kirsten Saxton’s scholarship explores how contemporary readings of historical texts provide new ways to think, not only about the past, but the present. Her early work reshaped the field of 18th-century literary studies through feminist interventions. Her current research emphasizes how reading 18th- and 19th-century texts through anti-racist, feminist, queer, and disability activist theoretical positions offers us productive ways to understand not only historical contexts, but also our own moment.

Since 2021, her published work includes: a micro-autobiographical reflection on the unbearable whiteness of her own early research; a chapter on criminal celebrity and prison tourism; an essay on the conceptual archive and theories of the city; and a trans reading of 17th-century writer Aphra Behn’s fiction. Her current book project explores how popular supernatural narratives model somatic ways of knowing that situate vulnerability, locality, thresholds of experience, and knowledge through the queer body—the disabled, the poor, the woman, the ghost.

She has been a principal investigator on two large-scale public humanities and digital humanities projects and is starting a public history project on local Oakland cemeteries.

She is an editor, advisor, and reviewer for refereed journals and presses, an outside reader on dissertations and faculty promotions, and, since 2020, holds a weekly mentorship group for transnational graduate and early career 18th-century scholars.

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