Alisha Knight Earns Cromwell Award for Innovation in Teaching


Dr. Alisha Knight has been awarded the Cromwell Award for Innovation in Teaching, an honor that is handed out each fall to an instructor for exceptional accomplishments in pedagogy, including using new instructional technologies, revamping traditional technologies in creative ways, applying novel approaches to instruction, innovating in curricular development and engaging students in the learning process in new ways.


Through this annual award, The Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning seeks to sustain and encourage Washington College’s instructors to continuously rethink and redevelop their teaching and learning approach. This honor is awarded each fall to an instructor for exceptional accomplishments during the two previous academic years and includes a $1500 prize. The Advisory Board of the Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning selected the winner.

This is the second distinguished teaching award Knight has earned. In August, it was announced that she had been selected for the Alumni Association’s 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award.

“I consider myself very lucky to work with Dr. Knight, and I am thrilled to see her skills as a teacher recognized this year,” said Katherine Maynard, Director of the Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning. “The Cromwell Award not only recognizes the great work of professors like Dr Knight, but also that it inspires the rest of us to think about ways we can improve our own teaching. Dr. Knight leads with her example, reminding us that we can always grow as teachers.” 

Knight has been recognized for her innovative, interdisciplinary approach to two of her courses, her survey of African American literature (ENG 214) and her seminar on Black Men & Women: Images of Race and Gender in American Literature and Culture. 

In the first, Knight uses the interplay between black music--the blues, jazz, and rap--and black literature to teach students how to conduct nuanced textual analysis. In the latter, she teaches students how to engage critically with stereotypical and offensive images of black men and women as an entryway to understanding the ways that black writers contest those images. The students in the class then use these skills to engage in a dialogue with the general public through their analyses of how contemporary African American images challenge or perpetuate racial stereotypes.

In both cases, Knight has fulfilled her own goal--to borrow both her words and those of Earl Lewis--"to challenge and empower students of all backgrounds to 'contribute ideas, ask questions, contest assumptions, and revise points of view'."

An official moment of recognition for Dr. Knight will take place during the February Convocation ceremony.

About Dr. Alisha Knight

As the Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Washington College, Knight specializes in African American literature and print culture at the turn of the twentieth century.  She teaches introductory and advanced literature and American Studies courses.  She strives to mentor students—majors and non-majors alike—to become careful, critical readers and astute, analytical writers.  Knight earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and later went on to earn her doctorate from Drew University.