Interview - Betty Joseph

Born in Kerala State, India in 1963, Dr. Betty Joseph currently serves as a Professor of English at Rice University, with a particular focus on 18th century British literature, contemporary Anglophone literature, empire studies, critical theory, and Marxist theories. Growing up, Joseph mostly attended all-girls Catholic private schools—although these schools were very strict, she also forged close bonds with the other students and still keeps in touch with them today. Some of her most cherished childhood memories are of summers spent playing outside with her cousins and of celebrating various religious holidays in her neighborhood.

At home, her father fostered a mindset of independence and intellectual freedom in Joseph and her brother. This fueled her appetite for literature and later contributed to her decision to leave home and pursue higher education at the Sophia College for Women, University of Mumbai. There, she was able to delve fully into her love for English and the humanities, also joining a “newsmaker” club to discuss current events with other students. After graduating from college, Joseph emigrated from India to New York to pursue a Master’s degree at Syracuse University. She recalls logistical difficulties that she faced as she adjusted to life in a new country but is also incredibly grateful to her relatives in the US, who helped to ease this transition.

At Syracuse University Graduate School and, later, at the University of Minneapolis Graduate School, Joseph found an incredibly tight-knit community of fellow graduate students, many of whom she remains good friends with. In 1995, after earning two Master’s degrees, Joseph accepted a position as Assistant Professor of English at Rice University, where she has taught ever since. She appreciates the Rice English department’s supportive and collaborative atmosphere and has made some of her closest friends there. Joseph finds her job very fulfilling, as she is able to simultaneously pursue her own passions and cultivate new passions within her undergraduate and graduate students. Outside of her career, she loves to go on walks and picnics, watch movies, and try new recipes with her friends.

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