A proud South African-American, Dr. Lewis is delighted to serve as faculty for her second voyage with Semester at Sea, teaching Introduction to Theatre, Global Theatre, and Film and Social Change. A Distinguished Teaching Award winner, Dr. Lewis is a multidisciplinary educator with a passion for inspiring intellectual curiosity and advocating for the performing arts as a powerful force for social activation and change.
Professor Lewis is a fierce advocate for international education, having led a study abroad program called Arts & Culture in South Africa for several years. She believes that the performing arts can offer us a lens through which to examine questions of social justice, race, class and gender politics, history, language, memory, and the role of the arts in our global world. And that study abroad builds our global citizenship skills, capacity for empathy, and understanding of difference and diversity.
Her research and teaching specialties include global theatre, performance, and film. She focuses on the ways in which the West imagines Africa, through theatre, film, and media performances; how race, gender, and national identity intersect in performance; and the role the arts can play in creatively showing us our worlds, questioning systems of power, and imagining new visions and possibilities.
Her award-winning book, Magnet Theatre: Three Decades of Making Space (with Anton Krueger, Intellect Books, 2016), is a history of a vital Cape Town-based physical theatre company that has been making space for theatre, moving bodies, cultural dialogue, and community engagement across a tumultuous period of South Africa’s history. She also authored Performing Whitely in the Postolony: Afrikaners in South African Theatrical and Public Life (University of Iowa Press, 2016): a study of how whiteness is sustained through performance, and how Afrikaners performed themselves into, around, and out of power in South Africa.
Lewis received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, her MA from Johns Hopkins, and her BA from Kenyon College. She also holds a certificate in Digital Filmmaking from New York Film Academy and ran a video production company for ten years, through which she made her first documentary film: Devising Gilgamesh (2014).