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Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality


Jane Chance

Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor Emerita of English, Rice University

713-348-4840 (409-763-6066)

Jane Chance is the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor Emerita in English at Rice University and a recent recipient of an honorary doctorate of letters from Purdue University (2013), awarded for her “Outstanding Literary Studies and Visionary Leadership in Medieval Studies.” Initially appointed to teach Old English literature as the first tenure-track woman professor in the English Department (1973), she taught many other courses, on Chaucer, Dante, Middle English, women and gender, and mythologies until she retired in 2011(she previously taught at the University of Saskatchewan-Saskatoon, Canada, between 1971-1973). 

Author of twenty-three books and over a hundred articles and reviews on Old and Middle English literature, medieval women and gender, and medievalism, she has received Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships, membership at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio  residency, and book and article prizes for her work on medieval mythography (for example,  The Genius Figure in Antiquity and the Middle Ages [1975], The Mythographic Chaucer: The Fabulation of Sexual Politics [1995], and the three volumes of Medieval Mythography [1994, her first SCMLA Award recipient;  and 2000 and 2014].  

In addition to teaching the first English course at Rice on modern women writers, in 1974, she has also published The Literary Subversions of Medieval Women (2007), for which she won her second SCMLA Best Book Award; her edited collection, Women Medievalists and the Academy (2005), which contains 72 intellectual biographies of women who pioneered and distinguished themselves in medieval studies, beginning in the late eighteenth century, despite many cultural and professional obstacles; an edited collection on Gender and Text in the Middle Ages (1996), which grew out of a conference she organized at Rice through the Medieval Studies Program (which she also created and directed), and Woman as Hero in Old English Literature (1986). She also founded the book series Library of Medieval Women, which offers 24 titles—texts by and about women throughout medieval Europe, along with interpretive essays--through Boydell and Brewer. 

At Rice she helped to catalyze the creation of, lead, and serve on the Rice Commission on Women in 1987-88; she received an IMPACT Award for Outstanding Rice Faculty Woman for the Empowerment of Women from the Rice University Women’s Resource Center in 1998.


In addition to publishing her first book of poetry (Only Begetter, 2014) and eight poems in an anthology of  medievalist poetry edited by Oz Hardwick (2015), she is finishing her seventh book on J.R.R. Tolkien: Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature,” due out Sept. 2016.