Felicia Angeja Viator

Associate Professor
CSET Waiver Specialist
Phone: (415) 338-6177
Email: fviator@sfsu.edu
Location: Humanities Building Room 334
Office Hours:
Mon: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Wed: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.&a.m.p; by appointment

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  what was once reffered to as “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

  • History Consultant, The Grammy Museum
  • Editor, Made By History at The Washington Post 
  • 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