"Studies in English Literature 1500-1900" was founded in 1960 by Carroll Camden, former chair of the English Department, Rice University, and was first published in 1961. The journal includes critical essays from leading scholars in specific fields and a review essay on recent studies in that field.
Longtime SEL editor Bob Patten, Rice University's Lynette S. Autrey Professor in Humanities, collaborates with an editorial board composed of internationally recognized experts to review all essays submitted. Diana Hobby fellowships support graduate students who work on all aspects of the journal.
In 1998 distribution duties were taken over by Johns Hopkins University Press who makes the printed version available as well as an electronic version through the press's Project Muse. All editorial duties are still performed by Rice University.