Ethan Lewis

Dr. Ethan LewisMeet Ethan Lewis
Associate Professor,



  • B.A. English: Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts
  • B.A. Philosophy: Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Ph.D. English: Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts

Personal: Dr. Lewis' recommended reading for every college student...Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, Four Quartets, by T.S. Eliot, Quartet in Autumn, by Barbara Pym, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson, and An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard.

  • I went to Boston College as an undergraduate. After that, I
    went to law school, but I really missed reading and writing about literature and talking to people about literature, and I would have made a terrible lawyer, so I went back to Boston college, got my Ph.D., and taught there for three years. I came to UIS about 15 years ago.

Interesting facts:

  • I’ve written a few books, I specialize in Shakespeare and modernist poetry, I’m a big sports fan and I love music. I think all of those things contribute to each other. I love reading and writing and talking about to people about books, so my hobby is my job.

Major project underway:

  • I’m working on a book on Shakespeare. I just finished two books that were out briefly and will probably go out again. The book on Shakespeare and part of one of the books that was recently brought out I’m redacting for a Cambridge University retrospective on Ezra Pounds. The other book that has recently gone out is on poets in this area—local poets. It’s a critical anthology: a selection of their poems and also some essays I’ve written on them.

Learning philosophy:

  • People write best about what they want to write about. I need to direct them, that’s my responsibility, but ultimately I will write essay exam questions and let students decide which of those they want to use. For major essays I want students to develop their own theses. Developing a thesis is part and parcel of what it means to be a scholar. Asking the questions is as important as answering them.
  • Also, I’m teaching folks how, not A quote by Dr. Lewis, "Do what you really like and you can apply that way of learning to anything that you do subsequently."what. You read all your life. In the Shakespeare project, we only read four or five plays. This is because if you can learn to read one play really well, then you’ve got the rest of your life to read the rest of them. You always read things in relation to each other.

Campus Connections:

  • I am the advisor for the English honor society.

Advice to prospective students:

  • It’s more important to do well with fewer classes than to spread yourself out. What you’re really looking to do as an undergraduate is to develop a transcript that will allow you to get to your next step.
  • Find what you really like to study and study it. As an undergraduate what you study, whether that is psychology or English or history or sociology, is not going to determine who you are. My daughter was a Classics major and now she’s in medical school. Do what you really like and you can apply that way of learning to anything that you do subsequently.