Mel Michelle Lewis

Associate ProfessorWomen, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Originally from Bayou La Batre, on the Alabama Gulf Coast, Dr. Lewis is a Black feminist queer studies interdisciplinary scholar working at the nexus of intersectional queer critical race studies and pedagogies of social justice praxis. Her research publications and course offerings reflect this positioning. Her current book project, Femme Query: Pedagogy, Pleasure, and Queer of Color Possibility, engages social justice educators, activists, cultural workers, and artists who articulate the power and possibility of femme pedagogies of liberatory practice. Dr. Lewis completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and holds an M.S. in Women and Gender Studies with a Public Policy concentration from Towson University.

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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress


Femme Query: Queer of Color Pleasure, Politics, and Pedagogies examines queer femme of color expression, identity, and experience through the intersectional lens of race, gender, and sexuality. This book project employs three perspectives. First, “femme pleasures” interrogates sexual desire, sartorial expression, formations of femme relational power, and approaches to cultivating sustainable inclusive “beloved community.” Next, “femme politics” explores political agency and creative femme methodologies for addressing misogynoir, violence, and invisibility. Finally, “femme pedagogies” envisions gender futures, femme performance as radical creative teaching and learning practice, and presents “liberationship pedagogies” as a framework for QTPOC loving as liberatory praxis. This qualitative work engages and contributes to the expanding literature on femme gender identity and expression and centers the lived experiences of activists, cultural workers, artists, and educators of color. Book prospectus in revision, research in-progress. 

Sexualized Subjects: Race, Performance, and The Disruptive Potential of Queer Feminist Pedagogies examines the ways in which the Black queer feminist pedagogical body functions as an “embodied text.” This book project explores how faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and other affiliated interdisciplinary fields employ their own corporeal presence as a textual recitation in the classroom and broader campus community. This project emphasizes interview narratives, examines literature on microaggressions, minority faculty in the academy, and critical, feminist, and queer pedagogies, and foreground the practice of intersectional inquiry while teaching through embodied texts. Book prospectus submitted for review, research in-progress. 



Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Lewis, M. (under peer review). Black Queer Feminist Pedagogical Resistance: Performance, Precarity, and Possibility. Thresholds in Education: Special Issue - What the binaries can(not) hold: Exploring the possibilities of intersectional praxis as gender liberation in higher education.

Lewis, M. and S. Miller (accepted). Between Ourselves: A Dialogue with Black Queer Feminist Chairs and Directors. Feminist Formations.

Lewis, M. and A. Johnson (accepted). Transcending LGBT: A Conversation. Women & Language: Special Issue - Transcending the Acronym: Genders, Sexes, Sexualities, and Gender Identities Beyond “LGBT.”

Lewis, M. and L. B. Williams (accepted). Retrospect and Prospect: Spiritual and Political Black Lesbian Love. Women, Gender, and Families of Color: Special Issue - Rethinking Black Love Since E. Franklin Frazier.

Lewis, M. and D. C. Hill. (accepted). Liberationship: Black Queer Feminist Lovership Pedagogy as Emancipatory Praxis. Pre/Text Special Issue: Queer Rhetorics, Dirtysexy.

Lewis, M. M. (2018). Communicating Variations of Blackness: An Intersectional Trans and Intersex Africana Studies Perspective. Communication Teacher, 1-8.

Grzanka, P. R., Bhatia, R., Lewis, M. M., Parks, S. L., Woodfork, J., Casiano, M. (2017). Intersectionality, Inc.: A Dialogue on Intersectionality’s Travels and Tribulations. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, & Social Justice/ Études Critiquess Sur Le Genre, La Culture, et La Justice Sociale, Special Issue: What is Intersectional About Intersectionality Now? 38(1), 16-27.

Lewis, M. (2016). A Genuine Article: Intersectionality, Black Lesbian Gender Expression, and the Feminist Pedagogical Project. Journal of Lesbian Studies Special Issue: Identities, Gender Performances & Pedagogical Practices of Black and Brown Lesbian Educators, 1-12.

Lewis, M. (2011). Body of Knowledge: Black Queer Feminist Pedagogy, Praxis, and Embodied Text. Journal of Lesbian Studies 15(1), 49-57.

Peer Reviewed Book Chapters

Lewis, M. (accepted). A Bridge Across Our Fears: Queer Feminist Intersectional Ethnic Studies as Interdisciplinary Praxis. (L. A. Saraswati and B. Shaw (Eds.), Advanced Undergraduate Theory Reader in Women's and Gender Studies. Oxford University Press.

Lewis, M. (accepted). Pedagogical Femme Sensibilities: Teaching Gender and Sexuality Studies Through Queer Affect and Embodiment, In Jimenez, J.P., & Guarriello, N.B. (Eds.). Queer Affective Literacy: Fostering Critical Emotional Sensibilities in the Classroom. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Lewis, M. (in press). The Vintage Black Glamour Showcase: Developing Media Literacy and Cultural Competency by Examining the Imaginaries of Vintage Icons and their Subversive Acts. In H. Kent (Ed.), Teaching Fashion Studies: Exercises and Pedagogies. London: Bloomsbury.

Lewis, M. (2015). Corporeal Presence: Engaging the Black Lesbian Pedagogical Body in Feminist Classrooms and College Communities. In T. Melancon and J. M. Braxton (Eds.), Contemporary Black Female Sexualities. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Invited Book Chapters

Lewis, M. (2016). Pedagogy and the Sista' Professor: Teaching Black Queer Feminist Studies. In R. Brock, D. Nix-Stevenson, and P. Miller (Eds.), The Critical Black Studies Reader. New York: Peter Lang.

Lewis, M. (2015). Pedagogy and the Sista' Professor: Teaching Black Queer Feminist Studies. In E. Meiners and T. Quinn (Eds.), Sexualities in Education: A Reader. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2011 (pp. 33-40).

Lewis, M. (2015). Incorporating Transfeminist Perspectives: Women’s Studies and Gender Variance. In M.T. Berger and C. Radeloff (Eds.), Transforming Scholarship: Why Women’s and Gender Studies Students Are Changing Themselves and the World 2nd ed. (pp. 45-47). New York: Routledge.


Lewis, M. (accepted). Thunder Cake. In J. Crews and M. Walsh (Eds.), Queer Nature.

Lewis, M. (accepted) We Take On. In S. A. Allen (ED.), Serendipity: Black Lesbian Literary Collective.

Op-Ed Articles

Lewis, M. (2017). Reading Myself into Existence, Inside Higher Ed, Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

Book and Film Reviews

Lewis, M. and R. Epstein (2012). Review: Cold War Femme: Lesbianism, National Identity, and Hollywood Cinema, by Robert J. Corber and Soldiers' Stories: Military Women in Cinema and Television since World War II, by Yvonne Tasker. Feminist Formations. 24(3), 136-142.

Lewis, M. (2011). Review of A Touch of Greatness, by Leslie Sullivan and Fem Crit: Experimental Works for Educational Environments, by Lisa Hayes, et al. Films for the Feminist Classroom/ Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 3(2)

Conference Papers & Panel Participation


“Written/Unwritten Roundtable: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 16-19, 2017. Baltimore, MD.

 “Cultivating Combahee/Living into Lorde,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 16-19, 2017. Baltimore, MD.

 “Femme Query: Politics, Pleasure, and Queer of Color Solidarity,” National Association for Ethnic Studies, March 24, 2017. San Francisco, CA.

“Re-Imagining Resistance in Baltimore's Marginalized Communities,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 10-13, 2016. Montreal, Canada.

“Decolonizing Curriculums: The Marriage of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Hispanic Languages, Literatures, & Cultures,” November 10-13, 2016. Montreal, Canada.

“Decolonial Pedagogies: Bodies and Border-crossings,” November 10-13, 2016. Montreal, Canada.

“De/colonizing Sex on Screen,” November 10-13, 2016. Montreal, Canada.

“Black Queer Bodily Vulnerability in the Teachable Moment: Microaggressions and Queer Feminist Pedagogical Projects,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 14, 2015. Milwaukee, WI.

“Teaching Sexualities in Communities of Color as a Pedagogical Project,” Intersections Symposium: Sexuality, Gender, Race, and Ethnicity, Morgan State University, March 7, 2015. Baltimore, MD.

“The Disruptive Potential of Queer Feminist Pedagogies,” Beatrice Bain Research Group (BBRG) is the University of California, Berkeley's critical feminist research center. Thursday, November 20, 2014. Berkeley, CA.

“me & you & you are words for us”: Black Lesbian Identities in Love and (Creative) Labor,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 13, 2014. San Juan, PR.

“Feminist Solidarity: An Intergenerational Conversation,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 14, 2014. San Juan, PR.

 “The Transition from Women's Studies to Womens/Gender/Sexuality Studies in Liberal Arts Colleges,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 15, 2014. San Juan, PR.

Trans/Feminist Pedagogy: Teaching Trans/Gender-Variance as Coalitional Feminist Praxis,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 14, 2014. San Juan, PR.

 “Intersectionality: Foundations and Frontiers in the Shadow of the Crisis,” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, November 23, 2013. Washington, DC.

“Incorporating Women-Identified Trans* / Gender-Variant People of Color into Women of Color / Feminist of Color Studies Syllabi Workshop” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 8, 2013. Cincinnati, OH.

“Pedagogical Femme: Teaching Gender and Sexuality Studies Through ‘Feminine’ Embodiments” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 9, 2013. Cincinnati, OH.

“Centering Poverty-Class Women of Color: Trans* / Gender-Variant and Sexual Minority Perspectives” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 9, 2013. Cincinnati, OH.

"Performing Black Queer Feminist Pedagogies at the Crossroads: "Claiming More Space for People Like Me" Queering Spaces/Queering Borders 2013 Queer Studies Conference. Friday April 5, 2013. Asheville, NC.

“The Brown Boi Project: A Trans Caucus, Lesbian Caucus, and Women of Color Caucus Co-Sponsored Event”
National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 10, 2012. Oakland, CA.

“Mastering the Methods: Investigating the Performance of Black Queer Feminist Pedagogies,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 12, 2011. Atlanta, GA.

“I thought this class was about women!: Deploying Intersectional Feminist Frameworks and Contesting Student Resistance” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 12, 2011. Atlanta, GA.

“Meeting the Needs of Students of Color and Creating an Anti-Racist Environment,” Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals Meeting, National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, February 4, 2010. Dallas, TX.

“Making Visible Marginal Centers: Towards a Conceptual/Theoretical Framework for Thinking, Speaking, Listening, and Working Margin to Margin,” National Women's Studies Association Conference, November 14, 2009. Atlanta, GA.

“Body of Knowledge: Pedagogical Praxis and Embodied Text at the Intersections of Black Feminist Thought and Black Queer Theory,” Center for Teaching Excellence Feminist Pedagogy Workshop, University of Maryland, March 4, 2009.

“Racialized and Queer Bodies in the Classroom: Performance of Pedagogy as Academic Activism,” Women of Color Scholarship as Activism and Activism as Scholarship, Southern Connecticut State University. March 13, 2008.

“Black Queer Liaisons: Rendering Relationships Between Black Feminist Thought and Black Queer Theory,” National Women's Studies Association Conference. June 16, 2006. Oakland California.

"Queer Incarnations of Color: A Cyberculture Study of Lesbian Women of Color and Online Avatars," quickanddirty too: The Second Annual University of Maryland Graduate Student Symposium in LGBTQ Studies. Wednesday, April 19, 2006. University of Maryland, College Park

“Mobilizing Black Feminist Curriculum: Investigating Black Visual, Digital, and Performance Art Activism in the Classroom,” with Torkwase Dyson (Spellman College), and Naisha Walton (Artist/Musician). National Women's Studies Association Conference, Women and the Environment: Globalizing and Mobilizing, June 11, 2005, Orlando, FL

Invited Talks


“Goucher Stories: Theme Semester Storytelling,” Goucher College, April 19, 2017, Baltimore, MD.

“Future Visions for LGBTQ Scholars of Color,” LGBTQ Scholars of Color National Conference, April 14, 2017. New York, NY.  

 “Theme Semester: Storytelling with Miss Major Griffin Gracy,” Goucher College, March 1, 2017, Baltimore, MD.

“Black Queer Feminisms and the Pedagogical Project: Strategies for Teaching the Self and Negotiating the Academy,” Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maryland, April 28, 2016, College Park, MD.

"Intersectionality as Praxis: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Feminist Education," Confluence Psychology Alliance Conference, Point Park University, December 5, 2015, Pittsburg, PA.

“Transformative Pedagogies: Intersectionality and Critical Feminist Instruction as Social Justice Praxis,” Montclair State University, May 8, 2015, Montclair, NJ.

“Transforming Women’s Studies,” Why Names Matter, George Washington University, March 5, 2015, Washington, DC.

“Transfeminist Perspectives,” Critical Coalitional Public Health Group, July 24, 2014, National.

Film Consultant - Cabrini Green: Chicago’s Housing Project History, August- September 2013. Chicago, IL.

Film Screening and Discussion – Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project, Fusion: Goucher Celebration of Diversity and Multiculturalism, March 25, 2010 and Small Town Gay Bar, Fusion: Goucher Celebration of Diversity and Multiculturalism, March 25, 2009, Baltimore, MD.

 “Graduate Colloquium: Intersectional Approaches to Sexuality: Image, Identity and Structure," The Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity (CRGE), University of Maryland, November 13, 2008, College Park, MD.

 “Classroom Climate and Creating Community: Methods for Creating Welcoming Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Students & Students from Diverse Backgrounds,” Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland, August 26, 2008, College Park, MD.

Academic or Professional Associations