Bernie Rhie

Bernie Rhie
Associate Professor of English
Stetson Hall Rm 608
At Williams since 2005


B.A. University of California, Berkeley (1997)
M.A. University of Pennsylvania, English (2001)
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, English (2005)

Areas of Expertise

Stanley Cavell, Wittgenstein, Romanticism, Phenomenology, Literary Theory

Additional Areas of Interest

Asian American Literature, Buddhism in the West, Influence of Buddhism on American Literature and Culture, Contemplative Education

Scholarship/Creative Work

Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism. A collection of commissioned essays that explore the relevance of Cavell’s writings for literary theorists and critics. Co-edited with Richard Eldridge (Philosophy, Swarthmore College). New York: Bloomsbury 2011. (This volume is connected to a conference I organized with Richard Eldridge, which took place at Harvard’s Humanities Center in October 2010; more information about that conference can be found here:

Selected essays:

  • “Cavell in the Classroom: Confessions from an Undergraduate Seminar,” co-authored with four students who took ENGL 440, “Wittgenstein and Literary Studies” (Spring 2018): Isabel Adrande (‘18), Louisa Kania (‘19.5), Stephanie Brown (‘20), and Nelly Lin-Schweitzer (‘21). For a special issue of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies. (In progress)
  • The Philosophy of the Face,” in Garry Hagberg, ed., Wittgenstein on Aesthetic Understanding (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017): 305-327.
  • Wittgenstein on the Face of a Work of Art,” nonsite issue #3 (October 2011), a special issue based on the conference “No Quarrel: Literature and Philosophy Today” (Boston University, April 1-2, 2011).
  • Cavell, Literary Studies, and the Human Subject,” co-authored with Richard Eldridge, in Eldridge and Rhie, eds., Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism (New York: Continuum, 2011).

Digital Projects

Founder of OLP & Literary Studies Online, an academic blog for scholars who work at the crossroads of ordinary language philosophy and literary studies. URL: (blog active from 2009-2017)

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

  • Diane Hunter Prize for Best Dissertation, English, University of Pennsylvania, 2006 (Dissertation title: The Philosophy of the Face and 20th Century Literature and Art; Susan Stewart, dissertation advisor)
  • Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education, 1997-2001
  • Benjamin Franklin Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 1997-2002
  • Honors Thesis Prize, English, University of California at Berkeley, May 1997 (Thesis title: “Coleridge’s Middle Passage: Associationism, Abolitionism, and Anthropology”; Stephen Best, thesis advisor)

Overview of Teaching at Williams

  • Director, English Department Honors Program and Instructor, English Department Honors Colloquium (2018-2019)
  • Independent Study on Borderlands​, Latinx, and Asian-American identities (Manami Diaz Tsuzuki)
  • Independent Study on the Influence of Buddhism on American Literature and Culture (Louisa Kania)
  • Independent Study on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (Sam Swire)
  • Zen and the Art of American Literature
  • Self and Subjectivity: Investigations in Literature, Philosophy, and Psychology (Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program)
  • What is a Self? Investigations in Literature, Philosophy, and Psychology
  • Asian American Literature: Prose (Tutorial)
  • Wittgenstein and Literary Studies
  • Teaching High School English in Independent Schools (Winter Study)
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • The Ethics of Fiction
  • The Problem of Modernity and the Modernist Imagination (Tutorial)
  • Literary Theory and Ordinary Language
  • The Face: Image, Theory, Politics (Williams Graduate Program in Art History)
  • The Human Face in the Modern Imagination
  • Beginning Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (Winter Study)
  • Philosophy and Poetry: Ancient Quarrels and Modern Questions
  • Introduction to Asian American Literature
  • J.M. Coetzee
  • Time-Consciousness in Modern Literature and Philosophy

Teaching at Other Institutions

  • Berkshire School (2015-2017): 11th and 12th Grade English, Dystopian Fictions (Senior Elective), Modern Wars and Modern Literature (Senior Elective), Meditation for Beginners (Pro Vita 2016), Yoga and Mindfulness (with Stephanie Turner, Pro Vita 2017)
  • Boston University (2013): Contemporary Literature and Ordinary Language, for the BU Graduate Program in English, co-taught with Robert Chodat
  • Germantown Friends School (2003-2005): 12th Grade English, Introduction to Western Philosophy, Self + Portraiture: Modern Views of the Person (Spring Elective)
  • University of Pennsylvania (1998-2000): American Modernism in Verse, Poetry and the City: The Prelude through Howl, British Romanticism, American Literature to 1900

Selected Presentations

  • “Zen and the Art of Reading: Buddhism, Literary Theory, and the Ordinary,” keynote address for the bi-annual Graduate Student Conference, Department of Comparative Thought and Literature (formerly the Humanities Center), Johns Hopkins University. Also leading a related seminar for conference participants on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s “Pedagogy of Buddhism.” February 22-23, 2019. By invitation.
  • “Zen and the Art of Literary Studies: Buddhism, Theory, and the Ordinary,” a lecture sponsored by the English Department, Boston University, Spring 2019.
  • Respondent, conference related to a forthcoming volume of essays on Wittgenstein and Literary Studies, organized by the volume editors, Robert Chodat (English, Boston University) and John Gibson (Philosophy, University of Louisville). Fall 2019. By invitation.
  • “Zen and the Art of American Literature” (slideshow), Williams College Faculty Lecture Series, March 1, 2018.
  • Storyteller, Williams College StoryTime, November 12, 2017.


  • “Writing is Thinking 2,” workshop presenter and leader, Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature, Duke University, March 1, 2013. By invitation.
  • “On the Philosophy of the Face,” a lecture for the Department of Philosophy, Auburn University, November 11, 2011. By invitation.
  • “Wittgenstein on the Face of a Work of Art,” pre-circulated paper, for “No Quarrels: Literature and Philosophy Today,” a workshop/conference at the Humanities Foundation, Boston University, April 1-2, 2011. By invitation.
  • “Writing is Thinking: Writing as a Way of Life in the Academy,” workshop presenter and leader, Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature, Duke University, January 28, 2011. By invitation.
  • “Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of the Face,” a lecture at the Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University, as part of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ “Futures Seminar,” October 29, 2010. By invitation.
  • On Neuroscience and the Arts,” gallery talk associated with the exhibition, Landscapes of the Mind: Contemporary Artists Contemplate the Brain, Williams College Museum of Art, February 25, 2010. 
  • “On the Philosophy of the Face,” workshop presentation at the first “Young Scholars Workshop,” Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature, Duke University, February 19-20, 2010. By invitation.
  • “On the Philosophy of the Face,” a lecture sponsored by the Critical Theory Emphasis, U.C. Irvine, November 10, 2009. By invitation.
  • “Philosophy and Literature: Reading across the Disciplines,” workshop participant, Mellon workshop at Wesleyan University, May 9-10, 2007. By invitation.

Current Committees

  • Faculty Review Panel
  • Selected Additional Service at Williams

    • Curricular Planning Committee Working Group on Asian American Studies (2018-2019)
    • Williams College Faculty Representative, C3/LADO (Liberal Arts Diversity Consortium) Visit, U.C. Berkeley, April 16-17, 2018
    • Director, English Department Honors Program (2018-2019)
    • Mindfulness Instructor, for Wellness at Williams (Spring 2018)
    • First3 Program Co-Director (2018-2021)
    • Faculty, Williams College Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program (2018-2020)
    • Co-organizer (with Seth Wax), Winter Study Half-Day Meditation Retreats, January 4 and 23, 2018
    • Co-organizer (with Jason Josephson Storm), Williams College Meditation Group (2017-)
    • Graduate Studies Advisor, English Department (2017-2018)
    • Director of the Williams College Tutorial Program (2013-2015)
    • Faculty Liaison, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) and Williams College Undergraduate Research Fellowship (WCURF) Programs (Spring 2012-Summer 2014)
    • Elected untenured Division I representative, Faculty Steering Committee (2010-2012, 2007-2008)
    • Co-organizer (with Holly Edwards, Art History), Williams College Visual Studies Initiative (2006-2007): a year-long faculty reading group and lecture series, with talks by Margaret Livingstone (Neurobiology), Mieke Bal (Literature), Kwame Anthony Appiah (Philosophy), and William Kentridge (Art)