Felicia Angeja Viator

Associate Professor
Phone: (415) 338-6177
Email: fviator@sfsu.edu
Location: Humanities Building Room 334
Office Hours:
Tue: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm in person only
Thu: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm in person only

CSET Waiver Adviser



I’m an American historian with a focus on nineteenth and twentieth century social and cultural history. I’m especially interested in California, popular entertainment, and youth culture. I explore all three in my first book, To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America (2020). It’s an origin story of “gangsta rap” woven into the unique and complex history of Black Los Angeles. Scholars have a habit of treating LA rap as a renegade outgrowth of New York hip-hop that only mattered briefly. But I put the music and its creators squarely at the center of the story of how hip-hop survived the 1980s and radically transformed American culture.

My next book will explore youth, parenting, and fear in late twentieth century suburban life, with a focus on “stranger danger” concerns, the Satanic Panic trials, Just Say No anti-drug campaigns, cable TV, and, yes, rap music. In the meantime, I recently published a couple of articles, including one on Black mobile DJ crews in 1980s Los Angeles, a pet project inspired by my first career as a Bay Area mobile DJ.

In my classroom, we connect the present to the past. And I help all of my students –– history majors and non-majors alike –– develop the kinds of critical reading and persuasive communication skills that they can apply to any career.


  • Ph.D., History, UC Berkeley, 2012
  • B.A., History, UC Berkeley, 1999

Research Interests

  • California and the West
  • African American History
  • Youth and Childhood
  • The Reagan Era
  • Popular Culture

Selected Publications


Selected Awards and Honors

  • LCA Faculty Excellence Award 
  • Historical Society of Southern California’s Ahmanson Foundation Grant for Book Publication   
  • San Francisco State University Presidential Award for Professional Development    
  • Arthur Ferreira Pinto Foundation Fellowship     
  • Luso-American Education Foundation Fellowship    
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award   
  • Doctoral Speaker for UC Berkeley History Commencement 2013  
  • Finalist, 2021 PROSE Award for Book in Music and the Performing Arts, Association of  American Publishers

Community Service

  • Editor, Made By History at The Washington Post (2021)
  • History Discipline Coordinator and Program Designer for new Social Science Waiver Program, SFSU, 2017 – Present
  • Faculty Curriculum Advisor, CURE Program Innovation Project, History, SFSU, 2019
  • Faculty Mentor for UC Berkeley Graduate Teaching and Learning Working Group, 2014 - 2015
  • Program Coordinator and Teacher for Urban Arts Academy After-School Program, Calvin Simmons Middle School, Oakland, 2001 - 2002
  • Social Studies Teacher for the Prison University Project, San Quentin State Prison, 1997- 1999