Rice University

Department of English

Graduate Studies in English at Rice

Prof. Robert L. Patten & Prof. Elizabeth WomackThe small and selective nature of the graduate program allows students to work closely with faculty in seminars that range from four to ten students. Graduate students in English enjoy a vibrant intellectual community at Rice that spans the humanities and social sciences. Students take courses in other departments, participate in interdisciplinary research groups and workshops sponsored by the Humanities Research Center and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, found their own departmental reading groups and workshops, and participate in departmental Works in Progress talks. For many years, graduate students have organized their own annual Colloquium,choosing a topic of critical import and a distinguished keynote speaker. Students also have access to a rich array of visiting speakers of national and international prominence; recent and upcoming speakers include Victoria Kahn, Michael Fried, Lee Edelman, Bruno Latour, Frances Ferguson, David Simpson, Mary Jacobus, Walter Mignolo, Felicity Nussbaum, Donald Pease, Rachel Adams, Laurie Shannon, Herbert Tucker, Sharon Marcus, Leah Price, Doris Sommer, James Longenbach, Wendy Brown, Barbara Fuchs, and Srinivas Aravamudan among others. 


Rice is uniquely positioned as both a liberal arts college and a major research university. With its small size and interdisciplinary culture, the Rice PhD program in English offers students the opportunity to shape highly individualized courses of study under the guidance of a world class faculty. The departmental curriculum is enhanced by a robust slate of speakers and visitors, as well as by the opportunity to participate in special seminars and certificate programs across the Humanities and the university. In addition to these forms of intellectual and financial support, the department provides resources for conference presentations, archival research, and other professional opportunities that have resulted in an impressive array of publications and presentations. With minimal set requirements, the program emphasizes independent work  and professional development.


The program also provides distinctive pedagogical training.  Unlike many other PhD programs, we are able to limit the introductory teaching required of our students. We keep our teaching requirement low while offering opportunities to teach advanced courses and freeing up time for research and writing.


Rice’s PhD program in English offers students the opportunity to fashion innovative and interdisciplinary research projects. Students interact closely with faculty involved in a variety of areas of study. The program offers strong preparation in British and American literatures and cultures ranging from the early modern era to the present, with strengths across literary periods in historicist criticism, posthumanism, race and ethnicity studies, feminist and gender studies, queer theory and the history of sexuality, print and visual culture, and global, hemispheric, and postcolonial studies. 


Rice students also enjoy the many cultural resources of Houston, the nation’s fourth largest and most ethnically diverse city. Students take advantage of a vibrant urban culture that includes an exciting art, political and restaurant scene, affordable housing and recreation, and access to the nearby Gulf Coast.


Graduate Student Virtual Tour of Rice