Christina Cogdell, Ph.D.

Christina Cogdell

Position Title
Chair and Associate Professor


227 Cruess Hall

Ph.D. Art History, University of Texas at Austin, 2001M.A. American Studies, University of Notre Dame, 1994B.A. American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1991

Field of interest: History and Theory of Design


Over the last few years, she has been researching her current book, Towards a Living Architecture? Complexity Theory and Eugenics in Generative Architecture, on generative architecture and design in relation to recent scientific theories of self-organization and emergence, development and evolution, and complex adaptive systems. She has received fellowships to aid this research from the Mellon Foundation (New Directions Fellowship), the American Council of Learned Societies (Ryskamp Fellowship), the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania. She has also received grants from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Wolfsonian Design Museum at Florida International University, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center for the Study of American Modernism in Santa Fe, and the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.

Publications and Work

She is the author of Eugenic Design: Streamlining America in the 1930s(2004), winner of the 2006 Edelstein Prize for outstanding book on the history of technology, and is co-editor of the anthology Popular Eugenics: National Efficiency and American Mass Culture in the 1930s (2006).

Her work is included in the anthologies

  • Routledge Handbook of Biology in Art and Architecture (2016)
  • Politics of Parametricism (2015)
  • Keywords in Disability Studies (2015)
  • Visual Culture and Evolution (2011)
  • I Have Seen the Future – Norman Bel Geddes Designs America (2012)
  • Art, Sex, and Eugenics (2008)

Her work is published in the journals

  • Technoetic Arts
  • American Art,
  • Boom: A Journal of California
  • Design and Culture
  • American Quarterly
  • Volume
  • Design Issues


Christina Cogdell is Associate Professor of Design, specializing in history, theory and criticism, and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California at Davis.

At UC Davis, she teaches interdisciplinary classes in Design history/ theory/criticism, Art History, Cultural Studies, and American Studies.
These include graduate seminars on:

  • “BioDesign Theory and Practice” (DES 198/298)
  • “Design Research and Writing Methods” (DES 222). 
  • “Self-Organization and Emergence in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences” (CST 295)

Her large undergraduate lecture courses are:

  • “Energy, Materials and Design across Time” (DES 40A) 
  • “The History of American Architecture” (AHI 188B)

And upper-division seminars include:

  • “Nature Theorized, Nature Materialized: 20th-century American Architecture and Design” (AHI 250)
  • “Superman: The History of American Eugenics” (AMS 101)

She previously has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, College of Santa Fe, and California State University – Fullerton.