Ralph James Savarese

Professor of English

-- Grinnell College
HWL Affiliation: Emerging Network, Visiting Faculty Fellow
Year Visiting: 2012 to 2013

Ralph James Savarese will be working at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences with Michael Platt, Deborah Jenson, and the Neurohumanities Research Group on a project entitled “A Dispute with Nouns: Autism, Poetry and the Sensing Body.”  This project argues that many classical autistics have an unacknowledged affinity for poetry and make palpable its status as fully embodied knowledge. 

He also plans to join the emerging humanities network led by Charlotte Sussman and Doris Iarovici, “Learning to Listen: Empathy in Literature and Medicine.”  He brings to it an interest in training pre-med and medical students to think differently about neurological disorders so they can provide better care for autistics.  More broadly, he hopes to foster in the world at large what he calls “neuro-cosmopolitanism,” or the ability to be at home with all manner of neurologies.

Professor Savarese earned his Ph.D. and M.F.A. from the University of Florida.  He earned his B.A. with Honors in English from Wesleyan University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa.  He joined the faculty of Grinnell College in 2001.  He is widely published as a scholar, a poet, a translator, and as a commentator on disability studies.


Visiting Faculty Fellow


A "Poetic Sensibility" and Autism?
-- Feb 6 2013
Ralph James Savarese, Ph.D., launched the 2012-13 "Neurodiversity and the Humanities" Series with a presentation titled "What Some Autistics Can Teach Us About Poetry: A Neurocosmopolitan Approach."... Read More
An English Professor at DIBS
-- Oct 8 2012
by Ralph James Savarese I began my Mellon Humanities Writ Large fellowship with two weeks of “Neuroscience Boot Camp,” a program for Duke’s incoming PhD students in the fields that comprise... Read More
How Does Empathy Make Us Uniquely Human?
-- Feb 6 2013
During Science Week on WUNC's "The State of Things" a team of faculty from Duke and other universities discussed empathy in its various forms (cognitive, motor, and emotional) as it relates to people... Read More
Brain Awareness Week Events May Surprise You
-- Feb 28 2013
When you hear that Brain Awareness Week begins this Saturday, March 2, you may think that means there is going to be lots of complicated scientific and medical information coming to the local news.... Read More


The Difference that Disability Makes: A Reading and Panel Discussion
-- Apr 26 2013 - 12:00pm
A discussion hosted by Visiting Faculty Fellow Ralph J. Savarese. How might blindness and bipolar disorder be understood as acceptable forms of difference, not conditions to be pathologized and... Read More