Publication Date

September 20, 2019

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily



Terrance L. Lewis is an associate professor at Winston-Salem State University. He lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and has been a member since the early 1980s.

Terrance L. Lewis

Alma matersBA (music), Mansfield University of PA; MA (modern European history) and PhD (European history), Binghamton University

Fields of interestBritain, 20th century, culture

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I started off in music with a history minor. When I began my MA, I wanted to expand my interests by combining history and cultural studies (music, art, literature, etc.), and my many mentors at Binghamton encouraged me to do so. Three of my four monographs deal with combining political, cultural, and social history to various degrees.

After teaching at Southern University at New Orleans for over 14 years, Hurricane Katrina forced me to relocate, and I was fortunate to land at Winston-Salem State. Both universities try to offer a broad range of courses for their students with a small history faculty, and so I have been able to broaden my teaching horizons across the wide range of European and world history, developing and courses extending in time from courses on Roman Justice to Alternative Futures/Utopias. WSSU’s dedication to social justice has also allowed me to develop and teach a number of courses associated with these ideals while redesigning others.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

A medium-sized university such as WSSU allows many of the advantages of scale while preserving a reasonable opportunity to interact with a fair percentage of the students. Over the years, I have taught at 9 different colleges/universities (adjuncting, visiting, and tenure track), and I can say that WSSU is a good place to work. Winston-Salem itself and the surrounding area is large enough to provide nearly any amenity. Meteorologically, having taught as an adjunct in the Great Lakes Snow Belt and lived in humid New Orleans for over 14 years, the Piedmont of North Carolina is a reasonable compromise.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently between major research projects, but am busy revising two courses for the 2019-20 academic year while preparing to teach a third for the first time in over 20 years.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

My interests have always been broad. As it has turned out, every course in my major and minor fields (undergraduate as well as graduate) has been utilized, not only in teaching general education courses (World History, Atlantic History, Gender History), but in developing and teaching upper-level courses as well.  

What do you value most about the history discipline? 

To paraphrase Pope, I believe history is “the proper study of humanity.” History is not only the story of human society and changes through time, but the framework upon which all other study and disciplines can to varying degrees relate to each other. A broad knowledge of history allows connections (or at times disconnects) across disciplines as well as across time to be seen and discussed. Within history itself, such a broad approach may at times seem to inhibit research for publication, but it opens up amazing vistas of research, encouraging new ways to envision the society or problem under study.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you? 

At a minimum, the AHA (via the AHR and the annual meeting) provides the best way for historians in North America to see the large-scale developments in the varied aspects of our field as well as keep up with the latest research. In addition, of course, there are a host of services and help available should we find we need them.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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Matthew Keough
Matthew Keough

American Historical Association