Skip to Content

Department of English Language and Literature

  • Top Teachers 2019

Department Honors Top Teachers

Barilla, Dowdy, Win Annual Awards

This fall the Department of English once again selected—out of many excellent candidates!—its outstanding teachers of the previous year. Associate Professors James Barilla and Michael Dowdy received the departmental Teacher of the Year Award for their accomplishments in 2018.

Barilla, who specializes in creative nonfiction, won accolades from both graduate and undergraduate students for his workshop courses; undergraduates termed him “an amazing professor and a great mentor,” while MFA students lauded his “fantastic ability to manage classroom discussion,” and praised the “amazingly rewarding experience.” And the undergraduates in his Advanced Writing classes described the “experimental, thought-provoking, positive classroom environment” Barilla was able to establish.

Dowdy, who teaches Latinx literatures and American poetry, won over students with his innovative mix of media and methodologies; they praised his use of groupwork, which “let us find meaning,” his ability to teach difficult topics, and his sensitivity to student concerns. “Professor Dowdy is by far one of the best professors I've experienced in my time at USC,” enthused one. “He's very down to earth, super compassionate about poetry, and open to student interpretation and opinion—even those that may differ from his own.” And a student in Dowdy’s sophomore “Poetry of the Americas” class concluded, “I used to think poetry was the giant, intimidating form of literature that I would never really understand. However, after this semester, not only do I understand poetry more, I enjoy it a lot more as well.”


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.