Professor of History
Modern U.S. Social & Cultural, African American, Film, Digital History
Degrees: B.A. UCSD; M.A. UCLA; Ph.D UCLA
Selected Research: Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2005); Mae West: An Icon in Black and White (Oxford, 2001); God, Harlem U.S.A: The Father Divine Story (U of California, 1992).
Professor Watts received a B.A. in History the University of California, San Diego and a M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. She came to California State University, San Marcos after teaching at UCLA, Weber State University, and Santa Monica College. She has also taught at Cornell University where she received a fellowship from the Society for the Humanities. Her research interests include United States Social and Cultural history, Digital History, African-American History, Film History, and Biography. Her books, God, Harlem U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story and Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, have been optioned for film.
Professor Watts has served as the Chair of the Department of History, co-chair of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Program Director of Film Studies. She is currently the Graduate Studies Coordinator for the History Department and is working on a book project entitled “Black Cabinet, White House: African American Braintrusters in the Age of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
Professor Watts was awarded the CSUSM President’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity in 2007 and the Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professorship for 2017-2018.