The teaching and research provided through our department focus upon the critical interpretation, social and historical context, and creative expression of literature and culture. The department cultivates the understanding and skills critical to participation and success in a complex, multicultural and global world.
Liam Rice '17 creates his own vision
Major: Literary and Cultural Studies; Applied Economics; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies concentration
Hometown: Milford, CT
Path: College Student Counseling and Development program, Northeastern University
“I’m an arts crusader, Liam Rice ’17 says with a laugh. “It’s probably what I’m talking about 90 percent of the time.”
This semester marked the premiere of The Gate, his first turn as a playwright. Performed in January by the Bryant Players, Bryant University’s student theatrical group, the play tells the story of three men forced to examine their lives and debate what it means to be alive in the aftermath of a car accident. The play explores issues of sexuality, religion, and family.
“Applied Economics makes you think about how you’re using things and LCS makes you think about why you’re doing things.... I’m glad I’m studying both ends of that spectrum."
Writing The Gate allowed Rice, former president and longtime member of the Bryant Players who has directed several of the group’s productions, to combine his academic interests with his artistic aspirations. The culmination of everything he’s studied and learned, the play was written as a capstone project for Rice’s Women, Gender and Sexuality studies capstone project.
“My advisor, Professor Thomas Roach, and I both wanted my capstone to be unique,” Rice says, “so when I realized that I could write a play, we both jumped on that.”
Though the outline of the play was something that Rice had been thinking about for years, the writing process was hard work. “I learned that being truly creative can be very hard,” Rice admits. He notes that the process involved constant iteration and refinement.
“At one point, I thought I had finished it, and thought it was pretty good. Then I brought it to Professor Roach – who tore it apart,” he remembers with a chuckle. “He pointed out some important issues with consistency and other problems, and I realized that prolonged creativity can be very difficult.”
The magic of theatre
That hard work, however, paid off. Seeing the words come to life put him “over the moon” he says. “It’s one thing to imagine how it will look in your head, but it’s completely something else to see it actually performed live in front of you.”
He was thrilled with the production, which was directed by his good friend Jillian Buckley ’19, and was glad to see his play performed by a troupe he’s grown so close to. “As magical as seeing my own writing turned into a show was, it was made even more so to see it performed by my friends.”
Rice also wrote an analysis of the play for his capstone, placing it in the history of “queer theatre.” “Looking back at my work and having to put everything in context showed me that I’m not the first person to do this – and I won’t be the last person,” he says. “My work, however, is still a unique part of a larger whole.”
“Theatre is life crammed onto a smaller stage,” says Rice. “In my Literary and Cultural Studies (LCS) and Women and Gender Studies classes, we talk about how much of life is socially-constructed and so much of it is performance. Theater gives me a different way to look at life, and also lets me take some of the stuff we do in shows and bring it into my own life.”
“It’s also kind of fun,” he adds with a smile.
The lightbulb moment
Rice appreciates how the liberal arts and sciences intertwine with business at Bryant. “We’re not just a business school,” he says. “I like how my different courses complement each other.”
“Applied Economics makes you think about how you’re using things and LCS makes you think about why you’re doing things,” he explains. “I can look at efficiency, but I can also look at equity. I’m glad I’m studying both ends of that spectrum, because they’re involved in a constant balancing act.”
He also values the small, close-knit classes, and strong sense of fellowship the Bryant community provides. “The LCS community feels like an actual family,” says Rice, noting that several of his professors attended The Gate ’s opening night performance.”
An Admission Fellow and the co-coordinator of the 2016 Orientation program for incoming first-year students, Rice will be attending Northeastern University’s College Student Counseling and Development program in the fall. He considers a career helping college students find their path and reach their full potential to be a perfect fit.
“I realized I’m really good at helping people have fun, but also at providing a safe space for them,” he says. “There was a lightbulb moment, ‘I’m really good at this and I like doing it, so why not do it for a career?”
He’s grateful to Bryant for helping him explore his options and find his path. “You can create your own vision here, and there’s enough support that you can make it happen,” he says, pointing to the capstone project that let him explore a long-held ambition.
“I think it’s the perfect mix, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”