December 2007 graduate Justin Lewis has been selected for a four-year teaching assistantship and tuition waver for graduate study at Syracuse University CCR (Composition and Cultural Rhetoric) Ph.D. program.   Lewis, who earned the M.A. in English from UTC with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition and a B.A. in Comparative Literature with an emphasis in West African Francophone Literature from The University of Georgia was one of only four students selected from approximately 170 applicants.

Justin Lewis
Justin Lewis in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Besides earning a yearly stipend, a full tuition waver, and a conference travel budget, Lewis and his wife will also receive health insurance and his wife will receive a tuition remission for work on her BFA.  Lewis will teach one class in the fall and one in the spring.  He will also pursue an internship.

“Specifically, I am interested in the networked environments of the web in the context of social media (Facebook is a wonderful example).  On a more general level, I’m interested in how the net allows humans to create connections in visual, virtual spaces and the corresponding effect of virtual connections on the real communication and transmission of ideas,” Lewis said.

He is also interested in how globalization effects the political, economic and social relations in industrializing societies.  Lewis wants to do research on the conversation/persuasion that is manufactured by organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and World Trade Organization (WTO).  Finally, he is interested in how movements of social justice can intersect with the movement toward globalization to create a more just and ecologically responsible model for future development in the age of late (post) capitalism.

Dr. Joe Wilferth, UC Foundation Associate Professor and Associate English Department Head, said Lewis came to UTC shortly after completing his undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature at The University of Georgia.

“During his time as a student here at UTC, specifically in our graduate program in ‘Composition and Rhetorical Studies,’ I had the distinct privilege of teaching Justin in two graduate seminars. In and throughout his work, I came to see Justin as a sincere (and public) intellectual. His peers saw such qualities as well. He was highly regarded by other students in our program, and he came to be similarly regarded by our faculty. It is, indeed, bittersweet to see Justin making plans to leave, but great things await at Syracuse University,” Wilferth said.

Wilferth adds that the UTC English Department has placed recent graduates from both undergraduate and graduate programs at University of Texas-Austin, Michigan State University, and University of Maryland-College Park, and that Lewis now joins a number of outstanding students from the English program who have gone on to study at prestigious composition/rhetoric programs around the country.

Wilferth was among the many “wonderful mentors” Lewis said he worked with at the University.

“Dr. Joe Wilferth did a wonderful job guiding my research and argument while I wrote my thesis and provided a lot of great professional advice; further, Dr. Eileen Meagher was the first person that introduced me to the study of Rhetoric as an intellectual enterprise.  Dr. Chris Stuart helped my writing improve, and Dr. Rebecca Jones introduced me to most of the critical theory I studied.  Finally, Dr. Lauren Ingraham acquainted me with Composition as a discipline and Dean Liedtka at Lupton Library provided me the opportunity (and exercised the patience) to work with non-traditional media in the service of the university,” Lewis said.

Dr. Lauren Ingraham, Associate Professor of English and Director of Composition, said “not too many Justins come along in one’s faculty career. He is both intellectually and pedagogically curious, so he is constantly working to become an even more excellent scholar and teacher than he already is. He’s also a wonderful colleague to boot. Last summer I invited him to be my assistant for the THEC-sponsored summer workshop I directed for area teachers.  He demonstrated remarkable initiative and organizational skills and enhanced the workshop with his knowledge of technology. In fact, he ended up leading one afternoon of the weeklong workshop dedicated to using documentary film in grade 6-12 classes and was a smash with the workshop participants.”

Dr. Rebecca Jones appreciates Justin’s generosity.  “He is generous in sharing his thoughts in class, with his time and skills, and, most importantly, he is generous in his teaching practice,” said Jones, Assistant Professor in the Department of English.

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