Our Programs: European Studies

The major in European Studies is an interdisciplinary program in the School of Humanities. Its focus is a critical understanding of European cultures and societies in a global context that draws on the expertise and research that is unique to the humanities at Rice.

What Europe is remains contested. Greek philosophy, the Enlightenment, revolution, equality, justice and modern democracy belong to Europe as much as violence, colonialism, imperial ambition and genocide. The major in European studies introduces students to the many different roles Europe has played, and continues to play, for the cultural and political situation the world is in today.

Historically ranging from antiquity to the present day, the European Studies Program brings into conversation literature, philosophy, history, political economy, the history of art, media and film studies, and women and gender studies. This highly interdisciplinary approach is challenging, and it provides students with a particularly rich, broad and deep understanding of present-day Europe, its cultural heritage and Europe’s place in a global context.

For more information about the requirements for the major in European Studies, please consult the General Announcements or contact the Program Advisor, Philip Wood.

The European Studies Program reflects the strong international standing and reputation of the humanities at Rice, and it also reflects the foundational importance of the humanities at large for a well-ordered pluralist and multicultural society in a global context. Faculty teaching in the major come from across the School of Humanities.

In addition to a series of elective courses on European topics across different departments students take two introductory courses and one capstone course:

  • EURO 101 Introduction to European Literature and Culture I: From Antiquity to the Renaissance
  • EURO 102 Introduction to European Literature and Culture II: From the Renaissance to the Present
  • EURO 401 Constructing Europe: Contested Identities

The introductory courses familiarize students with the major literary, philosophical and political texts and other cultural artifacts of Europe, dating from Greek antiquity to the present day. These courses teach students to critically analyze the major themes and issues of European culture, political thought and philosophy, both in relation to their original context and in relation to present-day Europe.

The required capstone course offers a critical investigation of the cultural narratives, social imaginaries and political tensions that have shaped Europe. Topics may include reason and freedom, secularism, religious toleration and persecution, migration and nationalism, empire and colonialism, globalization and the unfinished project of a European Union. This course will also allow students to reflect on Europe’s self-representation vis-à-vis its perceived “other,” which is always historically contingent.