Anne Cheng receives President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching

Written by
Jennifer Altmann for the Office of Communications
May 24, 2022

Effron Center executive committee member Anne Cheng, professor of English, was one of four Princeton University faculty members to receive President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Commencement ceremonies Tuesday, May 24.

The four faculty members are are Anne Cheng, professor of English; Lauren Coyle Rosen, assistant professor of anthropology; Peter Ramadge, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Matt Weinberg, assistant professor of computer science.

The awards were established in 1990 through a gift by Princeton alumni Lloyd Cotsen of the Class of 1950 and John Sherrerd of the Class of 1952 to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching by Princeton faculty members. Each winner receives a cash prize of $5,000, and their departments each receive $3,000 for the purchase of new books.

A committee of faculty, academic administrators, undergraduates and graduate students selected the winners from nominations by students, faculty colleagues and alumni.

Anne Cheng

A member of the faculty since 2006, Cheng is an interdisciplinary and comparative race scholar who focuses on the intersection between politics and aesthetics, drawing from literary theory, race and gender studies, film and architectural theory, legal studies, psychoanalysis, and critical food studies. She is a member of Princeton’s Class of 1985.

Cheng, who was critical in designing Princeton’s Asian American studies curriculum, is known for the innovative and wide-ranging resources she draws on for her courses. “Her courses were the most inventive and engaging seminars I took at Princeton, and their range and focus expanded my sense of what literary studies could be,” said an alumnus now earning a Ph.D. He described her teaching style as “boundlessly creative and intellectually playful.”

An alumnus who is now an English professor remarked on her ability “to craft a space — intellectual, physical and digital — for students to critically approach scholarly questions via creative means.”

A colleague noted that “she is able to teach popular topics without compromising her belief that students thrive when they are confronted with materials that demand a rigorous and sustained conceptual engagement.”

Drawing on subjects as diverse as food, art, film, pop culture and legal rulings, “she helped us see that literature is never produced in a vacuum, that the story of race, of our understanding of the psyche, and our concept of the nation can and should be thought about together,” a student said.

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