Sociology and Criminology

Dr. John Rice

John S. Rice

Associate Professor of Sociology

Curriculum Vitae

1992 Ph.D. Sociology, University of Virginia

1988 M.A. Sociology, University of Nebraska-Omaha

1986 B.F.A. Creative Writing-Poetry, University of Nebraska-Omaha

On becoming a sociologist, Dr. Rice says:

"I came to sociology through a circuitous route. My undergraduate degree was a BFA in Creative Writing/Poetry - a decidedly impractical major, but one that I loved for its emphasis on the ability to see the world we humans have made in ways that went beyond, questioned, and sought to find beauty, or at least sense, in that world. Twelve years in the earning, I doggedly pursued my BFA while working an endless - as it seemed at that time - parade of mostly terrible jobs to pay for my college tuition. The terrible jobs - retail sales; construction; waiting tables; bartending; route magazine and book deliveryman; even, for two weeks, door-to-door encyclopedia salesman - provided the motivation to keep returning to college. The good jobs, by far the fewest, included working in both wholesale and retail bookselling; working on, yes, a traveling carnival (only for one year); and being a professional musician for two decades. Although I, of course, had no idea of this at the time, all of those jobs were preparing me to become a sociologist.
When I took Introduction to Sociology, toward the tail-end of my 12-year undergraduate career, that course brought all of those past experiences together in ways I came to recognize as what C. Wright Mills called "the sociological imagination": that is, I began to understand my own biography in the context of history and social structure. That "coming to recognition" - aka my epiphany - led me to choose to pursue the discipline of sociology, because it helped me to understand and make sense of most of the questions that had dogged me throughout my twenties and into my early thirties.
Two final observations, if I may: (1) Although many sociologists and poets would not recognize it, there is a poetry to sociological thought and analysis, as well as a sociological turn-of-mind underlying the most powerful poetry. We can talk about this point if you like. (2) The man who taught the Intro to Soc' course I mentioned is now one of my oldest friends (almost 30 years). He would agree with my first "final observation": a first-rate sociologist, he is also a fine poet; has become an accomplished painter; and is an excellent operatic tenor. The lines between/among the social (and natural) sciences, the arts, and the humanities are useful mechanisms for "divvying up" the entirety of human accomplishment and knowledge; but those lines are also thin, porous, and can be deceptive. We can also talk about this point, if you like."

Specialty Areas

  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Sociology of Culture
  • Sociology of Art
  • Sociology of Education

Courses Taught

  • SOC 335 Sociology of Deviant Behavior
  • SOC 306 Sociology of Culture
  • SOC 348 Sociology of Art
  • SOC 360 Social Theory

Current Research Projects

Hillcrest Reading Program Website

Culture and Education

Cultural Change and its Impact on Public Education in the United States and Western Industrial Societies

The Commodification of Conceptions of the Public Good

Professional Affiliations

Society for the Study of Social Problems

Southern Sociological Society

A Disease of Ones Own