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Amber Manning

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Ph.D. Candidate in English


Amber Manning is pursuing her Ph.D. in English at Duke under the guidance of Faculty Advisor Priscilla Wald. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th-century American literature and culture, gender studies, representations of reproduction and pregnancy, writing studies, and pedagogical theory and practice.

Manning previously won the English Department's 2023 Stephen Horne Award for Excellence in Teaching, and was nominated by six students from a class she taught in Fall 2022 titled, "Criticism and the Arts: No End in Sight." One of these students described Manning as “one of the best professors [they] had a Duke.”

Manning has also received a Bass Instructor of Record Fellowship and a Thompson Writing Program Graduate Writing Fellowship. She now serves as the Graduate Assistant Director of the Thompson Writing Program.

On Teaching

What do you enjoy most about teaching? 

What I enjoy most about teaching changes from moment to moment. Hearing students interact with–and get excited about–each other’s ideas in class can be a profound and joyful experience. Sometimes, I’ll read a piece of writing from a student and just really hear them, really find some wonderful, interesting facet of them emerging from the page. Overall, I really love the moments in class when I am just absolutely in awe of the kind of thinking and creating students are capable of; I love to see their “a-ha” moments, but honestly, they give me so many “a-ha” moments of my own!

What accomplishment are you most proud of, when reflecting on your teaching?

I am most proud of being able to be a mother and a teacher at the same time. Both of those experiences have made me who I am, and those roles have, for me, really informed each other; I know that being a mom has made me a better teacher and that being a teacher has made me a better mom. I am also very proud of all my students and the really incredible accomplishments that I get to witness them achieving…I get to see them actively making the world better, and that makes me really hopeful and proud.

How have you evolved as a teacher over time? 

I believe that my pedagogy continues to evolve, probably every day. When I reflect back on my first teaching experience, I realize how much more I use collaboration in the classroom now. I didn’t always utilize the syllabus as a living, generative document that could develop in and through the classroom community. As I’ve learned more about trying to de-center power structures in the classroom and after working in the writing studio, I think I want to hear more of my students than myself in the classroom and the curriculum.


Excerpts from Mannings' nomination

"Ms. Manning is one of the most thoughtful, creative, and talented teachers (not just graduate
student teachers) I have witnessed in action. Amber Manning was born to be in a classroom. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of a teaching award."

"I really liked how close-knit and collaborative all our discussions were. I liked how we almost effortlessly transitioned from our pre-class small talk to our hyper-intellectualized discussions, making each student feel like their interests were valued in all regards. Professor Manning was amazing."

"Amber is great and created an open, fun learning environment. Take any class Amber teaches. She is a great person to learn from."