Gender and Sexuality

Gender and Sexuality

Many faculty members in English bring to their work sustained analytical attention to gender and sexuality. Some are also major scholars in the interdisciplinary fields of feminist theory and gender and sexuality studies.

The department is particularly strong in the historical dimensions of gender and sexuality. Faculty members have published on the history of gender and sexuality as it inflects medieval romance and the figure of the neighbor (Houlik-Ritchey); early modern representations of masculinity and childhood (Campana); the body, gender, and sexuality in Victorian literature and culture (Michie); representations of women and public speech in nineteenth-century American literature (Levander); masculinities in nineteenth-and twentieth-century US literature and culture (Derrick); sexual identifications in modernist literature and culture (Lamos); gender as a feature of the history of settler colonialism (Comer), of postcolonial and global literature (Joseph), and of twentieth and twenty-first century US literature and culture (Comer, Hennessy, Lurie, Ostherr).

Research in the areas of gender and sexuality studies incorporates and advances multiple theoretical approaches—from feminist and queer theory to affect theory, critical race, marxist, and psychoanalytic theory, as well as critical approaches to historical investigation, regionalism, environment, public scholarship, law, and political theory.

Faculty members’ areas of research interest also span a broad range of problems and debates extending from considerations of gender as it features in our understanding of waged and unwaged labor, home-life and life-making; sovereignty and state formations; place and space; language and representation in literature, film, and media, in visualizations of health and disease, in sport, and in medicine’s management of fertility and infertility. A recurring concern in much of this work is the challenge of imagining new forms of political action and community.

Most faculty members working in the areas of gender and sexuality are affiliated with the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSWGS) at Rice and find a stimulating interdisciplinary home there. Graduate students who develop dissertation projects in this area are supported by the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) and specifically by the Center’s graduate certificate program. The Graduate Certificate program brings together doctoral students from Humanities and Social Sciences who participate in a rich selection of courses and co-curricular programming.

Graduate students who complete the CSWGS Graduate Certificate are poised to apply for positions in this field as well as in English. Many graduating certificate students go on to faculty positions in institutions where their affiliation with women, gender, or sexuality studies remains a strong feature of their research and teaching and continues to feature in their professional development and success. Among these recent graduates are:

  • Meina Yates-Richard, Assistant Professor, 20th and 21st Century American Literature and Culture, Syracuse University (2016-18); Assistant Professor of African American Literature and Culture, Emory University (2018-)
  • Rachel Conrad Bracken, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Jennifer Hargrave, Assistant Professor of English, Baylor University
  • Sophia Hsu, Assistant Professor of English, Lehman College (City University of New York)
  • Lindsey Chappell, Assistant Professor of English, Georgia Southern University
  • Alexander Adkins, Assistant Professor of English, California State University, Fresno
  • Joanna Fax, Full-time Faculty, Department of English, Houston Community College

Through its annual lecture series and steady stream of public lectures by prominent scholars in the field, CSWGS is a vibrant interdisciplinary intellectual community and a hub for ongoing research in gender and sexuality. Timely issues provide annual topical themes that are opportunities for sustained discussion and debate that carry into graduate colloquia, a faculty feminist research seminar and theory group, and community lecture series. For example, in 2017-18 the question under consideration was Women and the Environment and in 2018-19 it is Understanding #metoo.


Joseph Campana
Krista Comer
Rosemary Hennessy
Emily Houlik-Ritchey
Betty Joseph
Colleen Lamos
Caroline Levander
Susan Lurie
Helena Michie
Kirsten Ostherr