Professors honored for their pedagogical rigor, passion, and commitment to students in 2022!
This fall, the Department of English named two recipients of the Teacher of the Year Award. Assistant Professor Seulghee Lee and Associate Professor Federica Schoeman received the honor for their accomplishments in 2022.
Lee, a McCausland Fellow, specializes in the areas of African American Literature, Blackness / Anti-Blackness, AfroAsian Studies, and Racial Misandry Studies. One student in Lee’s Honor College course, entitled, “Afro-Asian Connections in American Culture,” extolled him as “so awesome. He is hilarious but also extremely knowledgeable and empathetic. He created such a comfortable classroom environment where I felt like I could express myself…the figurative classroom space was so unique, and I cherish it so much now.” And a student in his African American Feminist Theory course writes: “Not only does he try his best in helping us understand what we do not, but he is always open in to listening to what we think. Overall, he is one of the best professors I have had at the University... He makes you feel heard, he makes you want to learn more, and he makes you want to understand more.” Lee’s recent courses include “Introduction to African American Studies,” “Asian American Culture in the Twenty-First Century,” and the graduate seminar “Racial Misandry in American Culture.”
Schoeman’s specializations include Holocaust Studies, Jewish Fiction, Autobiographies and Film, Jewish Literature and Thought, Jewish Diaspora, and Women's Memoirs. Students of her course “Witnessing, Remembering, Fictionalizing: The Holocaust in Words and Images” praise her extensively. One student writes, “Dr. Schoeman is hands down one of the best professors I have had the pleasure of taking at USC. She is extremely caring, always accessible, and made this course so amazing.” Another observes, “This class came from a different perspective than usual history classes, and it changed my perspective completely.” And one student writes, “Professor Schoeman is awesome. I absolutely loved her and all that she did for this class and in this class. She holds her students accountable but is also graceful and eager to learn from us. I love how she was so excited to hear what we had to say about the material she was already familiar with.”
Both Lee and Schoeman put a great deal of care and thought into their pedagogy. When asked to comment on his award, Lee said:
It is humbling to receive this recognition in the context of working alongside so many committed and respected teachers in the English department. Last year was a very rewarding span of work in my classroom: I got to teach two of my favorite rotation courses, Black Feminist Theory and African American Literature Since 1903, as well as my Honors College seminar, AfroAsian Connections in American Culture, so I was immersed all year in some of my most beloved figures, texts, and concepts. I also had the chance to fold in some of the great academic and cultural programming going on that year—including the Elizabeth Catlett exhibition at the Columbia Museum of Art, as well as campus and community events with Angela Davis, Fred Moten, and Cornel West—to bring to life and to complement the ideas we were developing together in the classroom. That year I also began directing two doctoral students, both committed to the study of Black literature and culture, so it has been wonderful to work closely with the next generation of teachers who share my sense of the vocational task of contributing to and passing on this work.
And in response to the same question, Schoeman said,
In 2022, I taught my Holocaust course twice and Great Books of the Western World (Part II). It is funny how these two courses are quite complementary: in a way, the texts I chose for Great Books illustrate the historical path that brought the western world from the French Enlightenment to World War II, which is the theme of the Holocaust class, of course. Students respond really well to these texts and to my lectures about the historical context, spanning almost 160 years, with which our authors are in constant dialogue. The students’ eyes are open to the fact that intellectuals and writers constantly engage with their history and tell us so much about not only what was but also where we, as a collective society, may be heading. The discussions in class among students are wonderful! Very intense and often deeply moving. I feel so lucky, as their professor, to witness their growth as independent thinkers and critical readers!
The English department and its students are fortunate indeed to have such committed scholars whose pedagogical brilliance is so inspiring.