Renée Riese Hubert was born in Wiesbaden, Germany to a German Jewish family of prominent physicians, intellectuals, and liberal social activists. With the rise of the Nazi regime, she and her parents were forced to leave Germany and they settled in France. She obtained a bachelor's degree from the Sorbonne in Paris and published six acclaimed volumes of poetry in French. A year before the outbreak of World War II, she went to England; later she joined her parents and her sister in the USA, where they had taken refuge during the war. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University, where she met her future husband, Judd Hubert.
She taught literature at several universities before joining the faculty of the University of California at Irvine, where she taught comparative literature and French for 20 years. She won national and international recognition as an important critic of 19th and 20th-century French poetry, Surrealism, and modern art. She was the author or co-author of more than 175 articles in English and French. Among her books were Surrealism and the Book (1992); Magnifying Mirrors: Women Surrealism and Partnership (1994); The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists' Books, with Judd Hubert (1998); and Cultural (Dis)connections (2006). Her autobiographical Memoirs of a Surrealist Scholar appeared in 2006. She also made significant contributions to women’s studies and endowed the Renée Riese Hubert Prize in Women’s Studies at UCI.