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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2016-17 Distinguished Teaching Award

Felice Blake - English

Felice Blake is an assistant professor in the department of English, where she teaches 20th Century African American Literature, Afro-Latin American literature, gender and sexuality, and feminist theories. In addition to publishing and teaching, she has directed a number of interdisciplinary research groups, including the Black sexual Economies Project, the Black Studies Project and from 2012-2015 she was the director of the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center in the English Department. In addition to consistently superb student evaluations in all her classes, both large and small, Dr. Blake stood out for commitment to interdisciplinarity, pedagogical innovation, and for engaging students in conversations about some of our most pressing social issues of the day. In all of her classes she examines the multiple forms of literary creation of traditionally underrepresented groups and urges students to think critically about how race and gender contribute to building the borders of genres, disciplines, and measurement of literary value.

Students, colleagues and TAs commented on how Prof. Blake has amazing energy and dedication to her students both inside and outside of the classroom. She has taught an extraordinary number of new courses, volunteers to teach the difficult introductory level courses, as well as advanced seminars, has co-taught overload courses and in general has gone beyond the call of duty. One student commented that her lectures were so dynamic and riveting that her 200 person lecture course felt more like a seminar. Another focused on her mentorship and the way she excels at teaching writing as well as close reading. Indeed, one graduate student wrote that Professor Blake’s “classroom has no walls. She faces each person, whether we are graduate students, undergrads, community members or incarcerated people, with the same openness and willingness to converse. Regardless of the setting, she invites critical discussion, a cornerstone of education, and engages relevant ideas and question.” Dr. Blake is an inspiring teacher, an innovative scholar and a program builder.