Pericles Lewis

I believe that colleges remain essential institutions and that a number of transformations in our global community create new opportunities for Yale-NUS as an innovative college.

Pericles Lewis

Founding President

Pericles Lewis, Founding President and Professor of Humanities at Yale-NUS College, took office on 1 July 2012. Under his leadership, the College has recruited over 100 faculty from leading colleges and universities around the world; designed an international curriculum that has attracted widespread attention and interest; and enrolled outstanding students from about 40 countries across six continents. Since Yale-NUS College opened in July 2013, it has been widely recognised as one of the most innovative undergraduate educational institutions in the world. The College has also developed unique extracurricular activities, experiential learning programmes, and a thriving residential life on an award-winning new residential campus at the National University of Singapore. Yale-NUS has been praised as a model for reinventing residential liberal arts and science education in the context of 21st-century Asia.

President Lewis has served as an advocate in Singapore, the United States, and internationally for liberal education. He has made ‘building a community of learning’ a major theme of his presidency. At Yale-NUS, he teaches courses on Joseph Conrad and Modern British Poetry.

Before taking office, President Lewis served as Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University (1998-2012). A graduate of McGill and Stanford Universities, he held a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining Yale in 1998. At Yale, President Lewis taught widely in English and European literature and was awarded the Graduate Mentor Award for his work with over a dozen PhD advisees. He was actively involved in curriculum development and faculty hiring at Yale University. President Lewis served as part of the committee that developed the initial curriculum for Yale-NUS and chaired the committee that hired the first 20 faculty in the Humanities. He has also served on the advisory board of the American Comparative Literature Association and on the editorial boards of several journals.

President Lewis has received a variety of academic honours, including Whiting and Morse fellowships, and awards for his contribution to extracurricular and intellectual life, including the Graduates’ Society Award for Student Service at McGill. Since joining Yale-NUS, he has been a featured speaker on liberal education at dozens of events around Asia, Europe and North America.

President Lewis is a citizen of both Canada and the United States. His wife, Sheila Hayre, a graduate of Yale Law School, is Senior Lecturer in Law at the National University of Singapore. They and their two children, Siddhartha and Maya, live on the Yale-NUS campus in Singapore.

An expert on literary modernism, President Lewis has authored three books on 20th-century European literature, namely Modernism, Nationalism, and the Novel (2000), The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (2007), and Religious Experience and the Modernist Novel (2010). He has published over 10 articles and chapters in various books and journals. President Lewis is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to European Modernism (2011) and 20th-century editor for new editions of the Norton Anthology of World Literature (2012) and the Norton Anthology of Western Literature (2013). His research shows how developments in literary form emerge out of a background of social, political and existential ferment. Rather than understand the modernists as elitists, hermetically sealed off from the broader culture, he explores their engagements with that culture and the distinctively literary solutions that they found for the central problems of their time. Select articles and book chapters include:

  • “In Asia, for the World: Liberal Education and Innovation.” Experiences in Liberal Arts and Science Education from America, Europe, and Asia: A Dialogue Across Continents, ed. William Kirby and Marijk van der Wende. London: Palgrave, 2016. 47-60.
  • Pericles Lewis and Katherine Rupp, “Liberal Education in Asia: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities,” New Global Studies 9 (2015): 245-66.
  • “Asia Invests in the Liberal Arts,” Harvard International Review 35.1 (Summer 2013): 36-39.
  • Elyse Graham and Pericles Lewis, “Private Religion, Public Mourning, and Mrs. Dalloway,” Modern Philology 111 (2013): 88-106.
  • “Modernism and Religion.” The Cambridge Companion to Modernism, second edition, ed. Michael Levenson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 178-96.
  • “Inventing Literary Modernism During the Great War.” London, Modernism and 1914, ed. Michael Walsh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 148-64.
  • “Churchgoing in the Modern Novel.” Modernism/Modernity 11 (2004): 667-94.
  • “Walter Benjamin in the information age? On the limited possibilities for a defetishizing critique of culture.” In Mapping Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Digital Age. Ed. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht and Michael Marrinan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003. 221-9.
  • “The Conscience of the Race: The Nation as Church of the Modern Age in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Joyce Through the Ages. Ed. Michael P. Gillespie. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999. 81-106. Reprinted in the Norton Critical Edition of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce, ed. John Paul Riquelme. New York: Norton, 2007. 451-70
  • “‘His Sympathies were in the Right Place’: Heart of Darkness and the Discourse of National Character.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 53 (1998): 211-44. Reprinted in Harold Bloom, ed. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House Press, 2008. 51-78.