New Faculty: Mendi Lewis Obadike

Mendi Lewis Obadike

Professor, Performing and Media Arts

Academic focus:

Sound art, performance, sound studies, poetry, African and African American studies, media art

Current research project: 

I am working on an immersive sound installation and performance responding to the symbol of the train in African American music and art, entitled DreamTrain. I am also working on a musical satellite reflecting on African American cosmology, entitled RingShout. Both projects are collaborations with Keith Obadike, who is a professor in the College of Art, Architecture and Planning. 

Previous positions:

  • Associate Professor, Department of the Humanities and Media Studies, Pratt Institute, 2016-2023
  • Assistant Professor, Department of the Humanities and Media Studies, Pratt Institute, 2009-2016
  • Program Mentor, Low-Residency MFA Program, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Spring 2023 
  • David Tudor Composer-in-Residence, Music Department, Mills College, Fall 2021
  • Visiting Artist-Scholar, Low-Residency MFA Program, Art Institute of Chicago, Summer 2020
  • Faculty, Performance Studies Summer Institute, Northwestern University, Summer 2013
  • Fellow, Society of Fellows, Department of English and the Council of the Humanities, Princeton University, 2006-2009
  • Lecturer, Department of Computer Arts, School of Visual Arts, Spring 2006
  • Lecturer and Artist-in-Residence, Princeton Atelier, Princeton University, Fall 2005
  • Assistant Professor, Department of English, Montclair State University, 2005-2006
  • Instructor, Department of English, Montclair State University, 2004-2005
  • Visiting Instructor, Departments of English and African American Studies, Wesleyan University, 2003-2004
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of English, Southern Connecticut State University, 2001-2002

Academic background:

  • Ph.D., Literature, Duke University, 2005
  • B.A., English, Spelman College, 1995

Last book read:

“Invisible Things” by Mat Johnson

In your own time/when not working:

My life and work are deeply intertwined. My time is always my own and my work is my pleasure. 

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

I’m excited to learn about and contribute to the community in Performing & Media Arts by teaching Senior Studio this fall and I’m also looking forward to teaching the course Sound, Music, and Public Space for the Mellon Urban Justice Lab in the Spring. 

What most excites you about Cornell:

I’m excited to join such a vibrant community of scholars and artists. 

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