Emily Houlik-Ritchey

Emily Houlik-Ritchey is Assistant Professor of English and an Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She teaches also in the Medieval and Early Modern Studies program. The focus of her research lies on Medieval English and Iberian literatures, specifically their representation of ethical relations across religions, cultures, and kingdoms in Iberia and the western Mediterranean. Her articles on the ethics of the neighbor and medieval romance have appeared in several journals and collections, and her book, Imagining Iberia in English and Castilian Medieval Romance is under contract with the University of Michigan Press. She contributed an essay to the edited collection Jews in Medieval England: Teaching Representations of the ‘Other,’ eds.Tison Pugh and Miriamne Ara Krummel (New York: Palgrave, 2017); this collection won the 2019 Teaching Literature Book Award from the Idaho State University Department of English and Philosophy.

Dr. Houlik-Ritchey’s teaching awards at Rice include the Sophia Meyer Farb Prize for Teaching, Phi Beta Kappa (2017) and the Faculty Teaching and Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Association (2020). She has been named McMurtry College’s Distinguished Faculty Associate (2018) and Outstanding Faculty Associate (2019). Most recently, she has won a George R. Brown Teaching Grant and a Rice Feminist Seminar Grant for innovative and collaborative course design related to the study of race in the medieval world.


After receiving my Ph.D. in medieval English Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, I spent two years at the University of California, Santa Barbara as the Arnold Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of English before coming to join Rice's faculty. My work has been supported by an NEH Summer Teaching Institute at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and a Mellon Summer Institute in Spanish Paleography at the Huntington Library. My articles on medieval romance, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower and his Iberian translators, and the theoretical figure/concept of the Neighbor have appeared in Studies in the Age of Chaucer, Exemplaria, South Atlantic Review, Literature Compass, and E.S. Revista de Filología Inglesa. My current book project is a comparative analysis of the shared romance traditions of England and Iberia from the vantage of neighboring texuality. The book argues for a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of Christian-Muslim relations and religio-geographic representation of Iberia across the shared medieval story traditions of Fierabras, Floire and Blancheflor, and Constance in their Middle English and Castilian versions. The book’s ambition is to open interdisciplinary conversations on the genre of medieval romance across non-traditional linguistic pairings. A second book project will merge neighbor theory with the insights of ecocriticism and new materialisms to elucidate the ethical dilemmas of choice and action that append interrelations among diverse beings, especially when those relations are vexed.

My teaching interests within the centuries we dub the “Medieval” are diverse. Temporally, they range from the literature and language of Old English up through the Early Modern period, and I can even be enticed beyond. Geographically, my teaching interests range from the literature of the British Isles to the European subcontinent, and into the Mediterranean region. My courses regularly incorporate postcolonial theory, critical race studies, theories of gender/sexuality, the environmental humanities, and theories of neighboring. I am always most interested when things get messy and intertwined—that is, in the way definitions, binaries, and representations turn out to be not nearly so simple as they may first appear.

I use feminine pronouns, I am a sucker for really good chocolate, and I spend my off-campus time re-reading my favorite books, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities, and raising two spunky kids.

Research Areas

Gender & Sexuality' Postcolonial & Transnational Studies; Race & Ethnicity; Ecocriticism & Environmental Humanities; Medieval Literature


B.A., The University of the South, 2002

M.A. in English Literature, Indiana University, 2007

Ph.D. in English Literature, Indiana University, 2013

Honors & Awards

CTE Faculty Fellow, 2021-24

Graduate Students Association Faculty Teaching and Mentor Award, 2020

George R. Brown Teaching Grant, 2020

McMurtry College Outstanding Faculty Associate, 2019

HRC Faculty Teaching Release Fellowship, 2019

McMurtry College Distinguished Faculty Associate, 2018

Sophia Meyer Farb Prize for Teaching, 2017


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