Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 is a journal of historical and critical studies. It is published quarterly for Rice University in Houston, Texas by Johns Hopkins University Press. Editors select learned, readable papers that contribute significantly to the understanding of British Literature from 1500 to 1900. Each issue is devoted to one of four fields:
Winter (February): The English Renaissance
Spring (May): Tudor and Stuart Drama
Summer (August): Restoration and Eighteenth Century
Autumn (November): The Nineteenth Century
SEL was founded in 1961 at Rice University by Professor Carroll Camden to meet the demand for academic journals "devoted to the publication of English studies." Since its inception, SEL has published influential articles by leading scholars in each of the four fields it covers.
SEL is also well known for the commissioned Omnibus Review of recent studies in the field that is included in each issue. Each year, SEL's editors select a leading scholar in each of the journal's four fields to review that year's recently published studies. Reviewers typically receive between 75 to 100 books each year from all of the major university presses. The resulting Omnibus Reviews serve to index the state of each reviewer's field and are consulted by emerging and established scholars alike. In fact, Omnibus Reviews consistently rank among the most read articles in each issue.
In 1995, SEL's former Associate Editor, Diana P. Hobby, established the Diana P. Hobby Fellowship to provide "funds for the support of graduate student editorial trainees." The Hobby Fellowship became "the first endowed graduate fellowship established in English at Rice." The first Diana P. Hobby Fellows—Yvonne Bruce, Shannon Leonard, and Susannah Mintz—began their service with the Summer 1995 issue. Hobby Fellows are responsible for maintaining SEL's high editorial standards and assist with copy-editing the journal's accepted articles and ordering books for each issue's Omnibus Review.
The journal is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.
For a detailed history of SEL, see the journal's Historical Timeline.