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Lewis Granted Tenure In History

By Gautam S. Kumar and Bethina Liu, Crimson Staff Writers

History Professor Mary D. Lewis, who has taught at Harvard for eight years, was granted tenure early last week.

Lewis—a specialist in modern French social, political, and legal history—has served as the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences since July 2006. She has taught at Harvard as a tenure-track professor since 2002.

History Department Chair Lizabeth Cohen wrote in an e-mailed statement that the department was confident in Lewis’ case for tenure.

“But you never know, there was a giant sigh of relief in Robinson Hall when we got the word that her tenure went through,” she said.

Lewis has received a number of academic honors, including the James Willard Hurst Prize for the best work in sociolegal history published in 2007. She also graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Davis in 1991 and received distinction for her dissertation at New York University, where she received a Ph.D. in History and French Studies 2000. Her dissertation explored the rights of immigrants in Marseille and Lyon.

She is now writing a book about the relationship between everyday legal battles in French North Africa and international power politics.

Lewis’ current book bears her academic trademark of immense archival work, according to History Professor David Blackbourn, who co-chaired the committee that first hired her.

“It’s been very gratifying for me to see her first book come out during her time here and to see her coming along well with her second project,” said Blackbourn, who also serves as director of the Center for European Studies.

“All of these accomplishments indicated to us that Mary Lewis was already—and would only become more so—a major historian in the field of modern French History,” Cohen wrote. “She has also been an extremely successful undergraduate and graduate teacher.”

Lewis said that she is glad to be able to continue to teach at Harvard.

“I have to admit that when I was in college, [becoming a professor] was on my mind,” Lewis said. “And I’m so glad to be where I am: it’s been so rewarding to teach the students at Harvard.”

—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at gkumar@college.harvard.edu.

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