The Ph.D. in Creative Writing & Literature faculty is comprised of renowned, accomplished writers in fiction and poetry—most of whom write in multiple genres. The award winning faculty embraces diverse theoretical approaches and encourages interdisciplinary studies. The Ph.D. in Creative Writing & Literature faculty members work closely with students, providing mentoring and guidance for both creative and critical scholarship throughout the duration of the program.

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is the author of five books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998), a NY Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000), an LA Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005), chosen by The Believer as one of the best books of the year, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010), winner of the SCIBA Award and an Alex Award, and The Color Master (2013), a NY Times Notable Book. Her short fiction has been widely published in places such as Granta, GQ, Harper's, The Paris Review, McSweeney's, Tin House and more, as well as heard on NPR's "This American Life" and "Selected Shorts". Her books have been translated into sixteen languages.

T.C. Boyle

 T. Coraghessan Boyle is the author of 25 books of fiction, including, most recently, The Harder They Come (2015); T.C. Boyle Stories II(2013); San Miguel (2012); When the Killing's Done (2011); Wild Child (2010) and The Women (2009).  He received his Ph.D. in Nineteenth Century British Literature from the University of Iowa in 1977, his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974, and his B.A. in English and History from SUNY Potsdam in 1968.  He has been a member of the English Department at USC since 1978.  His work has been translated into twenty-six languages and his short stories have appeared in most of the major American magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper'sEsquireThe Atlantic Monthly and The Paris Review.  His honors and awards include the Pen/Faulkner Prize for best novel of the year, the PEN/Malamud Prize for the short story, the Prix Medicis Etranger for best foreign novel in France and the Henry David Thoreau Prize for excellence in nature writing.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; two collections of essays, Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room; and six genre-defying titles: But Beautiful, The Missing of the Somme, Out of Sheer Rage, Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, The Ongoing Moment and Zona, about Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, and, most recently, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H W Bush. He is the editor of John Berger: Selected Essays and co-editor, with Margaret Sartor, of What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney.

A selection of essays from Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room entitled Otherwise Known as the Human Condition was published in the US in April 2011 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Percival Everett

Percival Everett has published twenty five books, including the collection of stories Half an Inch of Water, and the novels Glyph (2014); Assumption: A Novel (2011); I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009); The Water Cure (2007); American Desert (2006); Wounded (2005), recipient of the PEN USA 2006 Literary Award; Erasure (2001), for which he received the Academy Award for Literature of the American Academy of Arts and letters and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and Glyph (1999). He is the author of multiple collections of poetry, including Swimming Swimmers Swimming (2010) and re:f (gesture) (2006), the short story collection Damned If I Do (2004), and the nonfiction book A History of the African American people (proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett and James Kincaid (2004). He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fellowship, and a New American Writing Award, among other distinctions. 

Mark Irwin

Mark Irwin is the author of nine collections of poetry, which include: A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: Selected Poems (2015), Large White House Speaking (2013), Tall If (2008), Bright Hunger (2004), White City (2000), Quick, Now, Always (1996), and Against the Meanwhile: Three Elegies (1988). He has also translated Philippe Denis’ Notebook of Shadows and Nichita Stanescu’s Ask the Circle to Forgive You: Selected Poems. Currently, he is working on a selected poems and letters of Arthur Rimbaud.  His poetry and essays have appeared in many literary magazines including The American Poetry Review, Agni Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Pleiades, Poetry, The Nation, New England Review, The New Republic, and The Southern Review. Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, four Pushcart Prizes, two Colorado Book Awards, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright, Lilly, and Wurlitzer Foundations. His critical book Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry will appear in 2017.

Dana Johnson

Dana Johnson is the author of Elsewhere, California and Break Any Woman Down, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in the literary journals Slake, Callaloo, and The Iowa Review, among others, and anthologized in Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, The Dictionary of Failed Relationships, and California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century.

Anna Journey

Anna Journey is the author of the poetry collections Vulgar Remedies (2013) and If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting (2009), which was selected by Thomas Lux for the National Poetry Series. Her poems have been published in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, FIELD, The Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review. Her creative nonfiction appears in AGNI, The Antioch ReviewPrairie Schooner, and The Southern Review, and her criticism appears in American Poetry ReviewFIELD, Kenyon Review Online, Parnassus, and Plath Profiles. Journey has received fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Susan McCabe

Susan McCabe is the author of four books: Descarte's Nightmare (poems, 2008), Cinematic Modernism: Modern Poetry and Film (2005), Swirl (poems, 2003), and Elizabeth Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss (1994). Her essays and reviews have appeared in numerous journals, including Antioch Review, Denver Quarterly, Kenyon Review, Mosaic, and Modernism/Modernity. She has published her poems widely in magazines such as Volt, Fence, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Sonora Review, Barrow Street, Washington, Iowa Review, Bombay Gin, and The Journal of American Poetry Review. She won the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize for Descarte's Nightmare(2008).

Carol Muske-Dukes

Carol Muske-Dukes is the author of eight books of poems most recently, Twin Cities (2011), a National Book Award finalist;  four novels including the recently published Channeling Mark Twain (2008), an LA Times best seller; and two collections of essays, Married to the Icepick Killer, A Poet in Hollywood (2002) and Women and Poetry (1997). She is a regular critic for the NY Times and LA Times book reviews and was a regular poetry columnist (Poet’s Corner) for the LA Times Book Review for many years. She is a professor of English at USC and the founder of the Ph.D. Program in Creative Writing & Literature. Her many awards include a Guggenheim, NEA, Ingram-Merrill, finalist for the LA Times Book Prize, several NY Times Notable Book citations and six Pushcart Prizes. Carol Muske-Dukes is the former Poet Laureate of California, appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger on November 14, 2008.

David St. John

David St. John has been honored, over the course of his career, with many of the most significant prizes for poets, including both the Rome Fellowship and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the O. B. Hardison Prize (a career award for teaching and poetic achievement) from The Folger Shakespeare Library, and the George Drury Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque. He is the author of eleven collections of poetry (including Study for the World’s Body, nominated for The National Book Award in Poetry), most recently the collections, The Auroras and The Window, as well as a volume of essays, interviews and reviews entitled Where the Angels Come Toward Us. He is also the co-editor of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry. David St. John has written libretti for the opera, The Face, and for the choral symphony, The SHore. He lives in Venice Beach, California.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen is an associate professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and the novel The Sympathizer, from Grove/Atlantic (2015). The Sympathizer won the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal for  Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. It is also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, an Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. The novel made it to over thirty book-of-the-year lists, including The Guardian, The New York Times,  The Wall StreetJournal, Amazon.com, Slate.com, and The Washington Post.

David Treuer

David Treuer is the author of several titles including Prudence: A Novel (2015), The Translation of Dr. Apelles (2006), The Hiawatha (1999) and Little (1995). His non-fiction publications include Rez Life (2012), as well as a book of essays entitled Native American Fiction; A User's Manual (2006). The Translation of Dr. Apelles was named a “Best Book of the Year” in 2006 by The Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages. His essays and stories have appeared in Esquire, TriQuarterly, The Washington Post, the LA Times, and Slate.com. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the 1996 Minnesota Book Award, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Marianne Wiggins

Marianne Wiggins is the author of ten books of fiction including John Dollar (1989), Evidence of Things Unseen (2004), a National Book Award finalist in fiction and Pulitzer Prize finalist; and The Shadow Catcher (2007), recently nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other works include Went South (1980), Separate Checks (1984), Herself in Love (1987), Eveless Eden (1995), Almost Heaven (1998), and the short story collection Bet They'll Miss Us When We're Gone (1991). She has won an NEA grant, the Whiting Writer’s Award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.


  • Janalynn Bliss, Creative Writing Graduate Coordinator
  • University of Southern California
  • Department of English
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway, THH 431
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354