Lewis Wood

Thesis title: (Working) Precarious queers and queer precarity: cross-cultural literary responses to AIDS from David Wojnarowicz to CAConrad


Lewis is a first-year PhD student and his project is funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Lewis read English at the University of St Andrews, graduating in 2019 with first-class honours and a place on the Dean’s List for Academic Excellence with a dissertation on time in Gertrude Stein’s 'The Making of Americans.'

As an undergraduate, Lewis contributed extensively to university life: he served as Student President from 2017-18, a trustee of the Students’ Association from 2016-18, a member of both the University Court and Academic Senate from 2017-18, and interim Rector’s Assessor for Dr Catherine Stihler OBE in 2017. Lewis made meaningful contributions to trans and queer rights in St Andrews during his three years on the Saints LGBT+ committee from 2014-17, including as President from 2016-17. Lewis was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Students’ Association for his contribution to student and LGBT+ life in St Andrews in 2019.

A proud widening-access student, Lewis supplemented a St Andrews scholarship with part-time work at Topping and Company Booksellers of St Andrews from 2015-18, becoming a senior figure in the shop and, during his final year, Literary Festival Coordinator, in which capacity he programmed events with over 30 authors including Ian McEwan, Mary Beard, and several St Andrews-based academics.

Lewis was headhunted to serve as the Executive Officer to the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, from June 2019 - August 2022. Lewis represented the Vice-Chancellor to both internal and external audiences, drafted high-level speeches, provided detailed research briefings, arranged special lectures, and fulfilled high-level event organisation projects. Highlights include co-organising a visit of two St Andrews alumni, TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales, formerly The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in 2021, a visit from the President of Ghana in 2020, and rewriting the University’s Graduation Ceremony scripts on several occasions.

Lewis completed his Master of Letters in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture part-time while working for the Vice-Chancellor. He graduated in 2022 with distinction and another place on the Dean’s List after completing an interdisciplinary dissertation exploring queer responses to violence in the works of CAConrad and Anohni.

Lewis relocated from St Andrews to Italy in autumn 2022 where he served as a specialist queer prize juror and panellist at both the Milan International Festival and the Catania International Festival in Sicily. A recognised public speaker, Lewis has delivered addresses to over 1000 people at several St Andrews graduation ceremonies and interviewed and hosted authors including Bimini Bon Boulash and Ali Smith (twice).


Master of Letters with Distinction in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture, University of St Andrews, 2022

Master of Arts with First-Class Honours in English, University of St Andrews, 2019

Research summary

Lewis' research re-evaluates the literary canon formed in response to the AIDS crisis. Formerly understood as ‘gay male literature,’ it establishes an alternative body of ‘queer’ AIDS-response literature which focuses on the development of cross-cultural connections and coalitional community formation in response to prejudice and social inequality. Using Judith Butler's writings on precarity and other cultural theory to analyse AIDS literature, his work aims to broaden our understanding of the diversity of people impacted by AIDS, reclaim marginalised literary voices, contribute to theoretical debates about gay literature, and demonstrate that ‘queerness’ as we understand it today arose in direct response to AIDS.

Current research interests

General subjects of interest include queer theory and literature; post-humanism and material cultures; camp and queer aesthetics; suffering in literature; cruising and sex writing; HIV-response art; opera, particularly Philip Glass and Kaija Saariaho; film, particularly Pedro Almodóvar and Lars von Trier; and modern and contemporary literature more broadly. Twentieth-century authors of particular interest include Susan Sontag, Andrew Holleran, Sarah Schulman, Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, David Wojnarowicz, Shirley Jackson, Jean Genet, John Wieners, and Frank O'Hara; twenty-first century authors of interest include Olivia Laing, Garth Greenwell, CAConrad, Zadie Smith, Ali Smith, and Alan Hollinghurst.

Current project grants

Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities AHRC Studentship (2023-27)