Janaka Lewis, associate professor of English, received the 2019 Bonnie E. Cone Early Career Professorship for Teaching in recognition of her strong commitment to teaching. Lewis received this award at the Provost’s Awards Reception on September 24, 2019.
While the award goes to a member of faculty who has been awarded tenure within the last three years, Lewis already has established herself as a campus leader in the area of interdisciplinary studies. She was named director of UNC Charlotte’s Women’s and Gender Studies program in 2017 and is currently leading efforts to establish a major for the program. Lewis is known for her passionate teaching style and for developing coursework that engages students with the university and the community.
Much of Lewis’ scholarship relates to women’s and gender studies topics. Her recently published monograph, Freedom Narratives of African American Women: A Study of 19th-Century Writings (2017), deals with major African American women writers who wrote about the concept of freedom and citizenship during the mid-19th century. These women writers were responding to issues related to both gender and race.
She spent four weeks last summer in residency at the National Humanities Center in the Research Triangle Park, working on a project about “Black Girlhood and the Power of Belonging.” Lewis will join a select group of about 40 scholars from across the nation who have been chosen to do research in residency at the Center. Lewis also addresses the topics she illuminates in her writing and research when she is in the classroom.
In teaching courses that relate to the history of black women, Lewis makes a special effort to reach out to other black women and scholars and students in order to build a community of scholars. For example, when she was teaching her recent Honors Seminar, she arranged to take her students to Washington, DC, to tour the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also took the students from the same class to Atlanta for a panel on Collaborative Feminisms at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association and to conduct research in the Alice Walker Papers at Emory University.
She has served as the faculty sponsor of Sigma Tau Delta and as the assistant director of the English Department’s Honor Program.
The Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching was established in 2006 and is annually bestowed to a member of the faculty who has been awarded tenure within the last three years. The appointment is for a three-year term.