The Rice Seminars

The Rice Seminars Program is an initiative of the Dean of Humanities, funded by the Humanities Research Center and the School of Humanities. The Seminars are designed to promote humanistic research, broadly understood, by bringing together a select group of scholars to study a common theme from several disciplinary perspectives. The most visible goal of the seminar will be scholarly publications by the participants, including an edited book to which all participants will contribute. Equally important but less visible will be the creation of international and interdisciplinary scholarly communities that will outlive the seminar itself. After the year in residence, seminar participants will attend two follow-up meetings over the next year primarily aimed towards completing the book publication or some other appropriate outcome. The topic of the Rice Seminars will change every year.

2015-16 Rice Seminar: 

"After Biopolitics"

This seminar will explore biopolitical thought as it has developed over the past forty years, while bringing it into conversation with other intellectual genealogies that promise to reinvigorate, and be reinvigorated by, taking seriously the place of “life” in contemporary social, cultural, and political formations.
Seminar Organizers: 
Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Guffey Professor of English
Cary Wolfe, Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English; Director, 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory; Editor, Posthumanities

2014-15 Rice Seminar:

"Exchanges and Temporalities in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Victorianism"

This seminar will problematize the geographical, chronological, and epistemological assumptions that divide the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries into periods or movements, and addresses cultural exchanges between Britain and the rest of the world. 

Seminar Organizers:

Helena Michie, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor in Humanities
Alexander Regier, Associate Professor of English, Editor, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900

2013-14 Rice Seminar:

"Materialism and New Materialism across the Disciplines"

The 2013-2014 Rice Seminar will undertake a year-long inquiry into the “new materialism” in light of the history of science and philosophy. We will consider “new materialism” from the vantage of the longer sweep of discourse about materialism in the Western tradition, examining problems such as: physical mechanism in Descartes and Hobbes; Spinoza’s secular monism; Nietzsche’s naturalism; the physics of motion from classical atomism to quantum mechanics; the concept of self-organization in the biological sciences; feminist notions of embodiment; materialism and the problem of consciousness. For a list of events leading to the 2013-14 seminar, see the Humanities Innovation Fund project  Materialism and New Materialism Across the Disciplines.

Seminar Organizers:
Sarah Ellenzweig, Associate Professor of English
Jack Zammito, John Antony Weir Professor of History

2012-2013 Rice Seminar:

"Human Trafficking - Past and Present: Crossing Disciplines, Crossing Borders"Slave trade map

Human Trafficking has been announced as the topic for the 2012-2013 inaugural seminar. The twenty-first century has witnessed a global expansion of slavery and the slave trade. Long considered a relic of the past that had been dismantled during the emancipation period of the nineteenth century, coerced labor is spreading as part of the informal labor sector not only in economically depressed countries, but also in emerging industrialized economies and the most advanced industrialized and democratic societies. Recent scholarship has emphasized the protean nature of slavery up through the nineteenth century, as well as the new forms of bound labor that emerged in the twentieth. Processes of modern globalization have exacerbated this modern form of slavery and the attendant slave trading that is now most commonly referred to as human trafficking.

2012-13 Rice Seminar Events

Seminar organizers:
James Sidbury, Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities
Kerry Ward, Associate Professor of history

 For more information about the Rice Seminars, please contact Lauren Kleinschmidt at