Dr. Heidi R. Lewis earned a Ph.D. in American Studies (2011) with a minor in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (2008) from Purdue University after earning a Bachelor’s degree in English Studies from Robert Morris University (2003) and a Master’s degree in Literature from Ohio University (2005). Her teaching and scholarship are primarily focused on Feminist Theory, Politics, and Discourse (particularly Black Feminisms), Hip Hop (emphasis on Rap), and Critical Media Studies.
In 2010, she joined the Feminist & Gender Studies Program at Colorado College as a Riley Scholars-in-Residence (RSiRP) dissertation fellow through the Consortium for Faculty Diversity. After serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor during the subsequent year, she was hired as Assistant Professor in 2012. She served as Interim Director of Feminist & Gender Studies in 2016, and was promoted to Associate Director the following year. After earning tenure in 2018, she was promoted to Director. Most recently, she served as inaugural Coordinator of Early Career Faculty Development Programs, which included directing RSiRP and the Mentoring Alliance Program she co-created with Dean Peony Fhagen. This past fall, Lewis was awarded the David and Lucile Packard Professorship, which she will hold through the 2025-26 AY.
Currently, Lewis is writing a single-authored manuscript entitled “Make Rappers Rap Again!: Interrogating the Mumble Rap ‘Crisis.’” In it, she contends with the subjugation of mumble rappers, arguing Mumble Rap, which has galvanized the genre for over a decade, is real Hip Hop. First, she does so by recovering longstanding debates about what Hip Hop has been, is, and should be. She also problematizes real Hip Hop norms for engaging with its origins and “old heads”; demonstrates the ways most mumble rappers practice citational and collaborative politics congruent with real Hip Hop and the ways Mumble Rap is conversant with other, oft-ignored, Hip Hop cornerstones; and takes a comprehensive approach to examining the Mumble Rap sound. Second, she examines habitus, situating Mumble Rap as southern and examining social media; the institutional, commercial, and transnational contours of Hip Hop; and Black politics. Third, she examines Mumble Rap on its own terms, especially the ways it challenges dominant narratives about Hip Hop masculinity and mumble rappers’ attention to mental and emotional health. Finally, she calls for a reconsideration of Hip Hop’s commitment to situated analyses, a particularly opportune conversation as 2023 is the 30th anniversary of Hip Hop Studies and the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop.
Lewis is also working on two documentaries focused on her work in Berlin and her experiences coming of age in northeast Ohio during the crack cocaine epidemic with Mae Eskenazi (Feminist & Gender Studies ’19) and Lindumuzi Jabu Ndlovu (Feminist & Gender Studies minor ’19), respectively.
Previously, Lewis published In Audre’s Footsteps: Transnational Kitchen Table Talk, co-edited with Dana Asbury and Jazlyn Andrews (Feminist & Gender Studies ’17), for Ingeborg Bachmann Prize-winner Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Witnessed Series. She has also published articles and essays in The Cultural Impact of Kanye West, the Journal of Popular Culture, the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships, and Unteilbar: Bündnisse gegen Rassismus; contributed to NewBlackMan, NPR’s “Here and Now,” Ms. Magazine, KRCC, Bitch, and Act Out; and is the author of forthcoming essays that examine VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, Bravo’s Married to Medicine, and “expertise” Women’s and Gender Studies. She has also given talks at Vanderbilt, the Gender and the Brain Conference, the University of Georgia, the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, Portland State, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Kampagne für Opfer Rassistischer Polizeigewalt, and many other organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Berlin.
Last, but certainly not least, Lewis is most proud of and fulfilled by her personal life. Most notably, 2023 marks her 20th anniversary with her husband Antonio, their son Junior’s first year at Morgan State University, a Historically Black University (HBCU), and their daughter Chase’s journey toward an HBCU all her own.
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