First Georgie W. Lewis Career Development Professors named

Douglas Flowe and Anika Walke have been named as the first Georgie W. Lewis Career Development Professors. Their endowed positions were made possible by a gift from alumna Georgie W. Lewis.

Douglas Flowe and Anika Walke, both faculty members in the Department of History, have been named as the first Georgie W. Lewis Career Development Professors. These three-year endowed professorships are in recognition of their demonstrated excellence in research and teaching and their strong records of professional service. This recognition stands out from WashU’s other endowed professorships, which typically honor the distinguished careers of more senior faculty and reward them for their accomplishments. Instead, a career development professorship supports exceptional, emerging faculty scholars with nationally recognized promise at a crucial time in their careers.

The endowed positions were made possible by a gift from Georgie W. Lewis, who graduated from Washington University in 1947 with a degree in liberal arts. Her gift was driven by her strong family ties to the university and to St. Louis, and she hopes that the succession of scholars who hold professorships in her name will make vital contributions to their fields of study while developing the leaders of tomorrow.

“I am deeply grateful for Georgie’s contribution to establish the Georgie W. Lewis Career Development Professorship,” said Feng Sheng Hu, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. “This professorship will help us support some of our rising stars in the humanities, which is vitally important to the continued success of the university.”

Douglas Flowe

Flowe’s research focuses on themes of criminality, illicit leisure, and masculinity, and how they converge with issues of race, class, and space in American cities. His work has gained attention within and outside the academy. His current book project, “Shadows and Sunlight: Race, Power, and Protest in New York’s Mid-Century Carceral State, 1920-1959,” will bridge the historical gap between the early 20th century and mass incarceration, and theorize about the many ways Black men and women interfaced with law enforcement and imprisonment. Flowe's first book, “Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New York,” published in 2020, analyzes Black crime within the prism of masculine identity, migration, the varied uses of urban public space, and racialized supervision.

A 2007 graduate of the State University of New York College at Geneseo, Flowe earned his doctorate in American history at the University of Rochester in 2014. He was subsequently awarded the Postdoctoral Fellowship of Inequality and Identity in Washington University’s American Culture Studies program, and joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2016. Since coming to Washington University, he has been awarded the Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Prize for Best Article from the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, the Trailblazer Faculty Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, faculty fellowships from the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity and the Center for the Humanities, and most recently a Mellon Fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He is also a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the American Studies Association, the Urban History Association, and the Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society.

Anika Walke

Walke’s scholarship in modern Russian and Eastern European history, which focuses on questions of persecution and resistance, gender and political activism, and mobility and migration, has garnered her international recognition. Her current book project, “Bones, Ashes, and Dirt: The Long Aftermath of the Nazi Genocide in Belarus” looks at how people remember and live with the effects and repercussions of systematic violence. Walke's first English-language book, “Pioneers and Partisans: An Oral History of Nazi Genocide in Belorussia,” examines how the first generation of Soviet Jews experienced the Nazi genocide and how they remember it in a context of social change. In June 2021, The Wall Street Journal named it one of the five best books on the Soviet home front in World War II.

Walke earned her master’s degree in sociology from the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany and her doctorate from the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2011. She was then awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University, directing the project titled “Migration, Identity, State,” in International and Area Studies. She joined the Department of History faculty in 2014, was promoted to associate professor in 2019, and has affiliations in Global Studies; Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She won the Heldt Prize of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies for Best Article in Slavic and East European Women’s Studies in 2015, was a joint recipient of NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant in 2018, and was selected as a visiting professor at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences at the Centre for Russian, Caucasian and Central-European Studies in Paris (postponed due to COVID). In Spring 2022, Walke will be a visiting fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg, an Institute of Advanced Studies in the History, Culture, and Societies of Twentieth Century Eastern Europe, at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany. She is a member of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Association for Women in Slavic Studies.

“Douglas Flowe and Anika Walke are extraordinary colleagues. Their scholarship is important and field-defining,” said Peter Kastor, chair of the Department of History and the Samuel K. Eddy Professor. “Both of them also navigate the very different worlds of academic history and public-facing history. That capacity to explain their work to wide audiences helps explain why they are such excellent teachers. I’ve learned an extraordinary amount from both of them, and I am delighted to see them recognized in this way.”

About Georgie W. Lewis

Georgie W. Lewis

Georgie Williams Lewis was born in St. Louis in 1922, the daughter of Eugene F. Williams, a prominent banker, and Marie Wight Williams. She attended boarding school at Foxcroft School in Virginia. She spent two summers as a teenager in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, where she sailed with Albert Einstein. She took classes at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, but ultimately earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Washington University in 1947. A lover of education, she also studied at WashU’s Brown School and at the University of Chicago before moving to Long Island, New York.

She has four children, Donald Meyer, Maria Meyer, William Meyer, and Polly Rowles. Her philanthropic endeavors include education, the arts, and youth services. She served on the boards of the Cold Spring Harbor and Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, among others.

Lewis is a direct descendent of Pierre Laclede, who founded St. Louis with Auguste Chouteau around 1764. Her ancestry is deeply rooted in the community. She is from a branch of the Olin family, and her brother, the late Eugene F. Williams, Jr., was an integral part of founding the John M. Olin Business School. Her sister-in-law, Evelyn Williams, is a daughter of John M. Olin. Lewis has a passion for education and believes strongly in the value of studying the humanities, specifically history.