Degrees of Freedom

In many scientific fields, the degrees of freedom of a system is the number of parameters of the system that may vary independently. For example, in mechanics, the degrees of freedom is the number of independent motions that are allowed to an object. The concept occurs in fields as varied as statistics, physics, chemistry, and aeronautics.

Several years ago, it occurred to our own Ranjani Rao (who is a scientist by training) that the concept of “degrees of freedom” offers a way of looking at and understanding human challenges and aspirations. An individual exercises a degree of freedom when he or she steps out of their socially assigned role and chooses a course of action — at some risk — in order to be more true to themselves, or in pursuit of a dearly held goal. One example of the exercise of a social degree of freedom is when a single woman decides to no longer wait to meet the man of her dreams and decides to adopt a baby on her own.

This way of looking at our lives and at the world was like a shift in perspective. All of a sudden, we started noticing people, especially women, who were hiding in plain sight while quietly snatching for themselves whatever degrees of freedom they could access and handle — while continuing to participate in society in the roles assigned to them.

So, we decided to create a “Degrees of Freedom” badge to be awarded to books that grapple with such striving.

A Degrees of Freedom Book

Story Artisan Press is itself a “degrees of freedom” venture. It is based on a decision to no longer pursue the stamp of approval that being published by a traditional publisher represents. It means offering support and telling stories that matter — to the readers, writers, and storytellers (through our Personal History division).


Current list of our Degrees of Freedom titles:

  1. Negative Space
  2. No Longer NRI


If there is a story that you feel compelled to tell, check out our Submissions and Personal Historian pages to explore how we can collaborate with you.