Deborah Sims

Professor (Teaching) of Writing
Email Office JEF 150 Office Phone (213) 740-1980


Deborah M. Sims is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California.  She specializes in writing, literature, and American cultural studies, along with education and teacher training.  She has designed and implemented professional development events for incoming faculty lecturers and graduate students at USC for many years.  Her work with graduate students and early career faculty centers on the theory and practice of effective teaching.  In 2022, Dr. Sims was awarded a Sustainability Across the Curriculum Grant for her course in Writing and the Environment, as well as an Advancing Scholarship in the Arts and Humanities early sabbatical for her book project on the craft of teaching writing.  She is also known for developing The Empathy Project, a curricular unit that trains undergraduates in synthesizing emotion and critical reasoning so that they can practice empathetic problem solving.  Dr. Sims’ recent publications and speaking engagements explore methods for creating meaningful learning experiences for students and navigating the post-pandemic classroom. 

Fun Facts: Dr. Sims loves the National Parks and has appeared on several game shows.



Issues in Aesthetics: Analytical and creative projects in visual culture, film and television, and art. Optional sub-focus on aesthetics of the environment, rhetorics of nature, and wilderness writing.

Education and Intellectual Development: Examination of educational ideologies and the role of intellectual inquiry in culture. Recent curricula: The Tri-Partisan Dictionary Project.

Advanced Writing: Study of form and audience.  Enrollment limited to junior or senior level undergraduates. Courses taught in Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, and Health Sciences.

Graduate Theory and Praxis: A hands-on best practices course featuring observation and training of graduate level teachers.


Multidsciplinary Studies in Work & Career: Scholarly and practical inquiry into students’ experiences interning in careers related to Arts, Letters, & Sciences. 


“Ecstasy, Empathy, and Transformation: The Nature Writer’s Promise.”  ARCH 499: An Exploration of America’s National Parks. Organizing Faculty: Prof. Douglas Noble (April 2022). Links: New USC Course and President Folt Lectures in Parks Course.

“Paradigms of American Speech: Linguistic Equity in the Writing Classroom.”  Educating the Educators: Best Practices in Teacher Training panel. Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) Conference.  Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov. 2021.

“Empathy as Commonplace in the Online Composition Classroom.”  The Conference on College Composition and Communication.  Virtual pre-recorded presentation, live Q&A.  April, 2021.

 > “Semiotics and Cultural Mythology: Making Meaning in a Visual World.”  USC Faculty Forum Lecture Series Chino Men’s State Prison (Nov. 2019).

“Evaluating Teaching and Equity.”  Cultures of Teaching panel, PAMLA Conference.  Honolulu, HI (Nov. 2017).

> “The Emotional Labor of Teaching: Women’s Work Inside and Outside the Classroom.”  Teaching Writing Across the Disciplines panel, PAMLA Conference. Pasadena, CA, (Nov. 2016).

“Identity and Diversity in the Classroom.”  Writing Program Orientation, USC (2015).

> “Modernism.”  Dr. Emory Elliott’s Introduction to American Literature.  UCR (2008).

“Melancholia and the 20th Century American Poet.” (Dis)junctions Conference, UCR (2007).

> “The Economics of Racist Ideology in Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition.”American Literature Association Conference, San Francisco (2006).

> “Female Masculinity and Fashion.” Mellon Workshops Conference, The (Se)X Factor in Labor, UCR (2006).

> “Consumerism and Women’s ‘Collective’ Identity.”  Department of English Graduate Conference, California State University, Fullerton (2005).

> “Rape and Cinema: Sexual Violence as Narrative Strategy.”  Discourses of Desire, San Diego State University Graduate Student Conference (2004).



  • Advancing Scholarship in the Arts and Humanities early sabbatical recipient (fall 2022).
  • Paid Speaker: Duke University, Pandemic Pedagogy Research Symposium: From Innovation to Transofrmation (May 2022).
  • Sustainability Across the Curriculum, Grant Type II: Full course proposal: $10,000 (2021-22)
  • Summer Humanities Undergraduate Research Experience (SHURE) mentor, USC (2021)
  • Long Beach Giving Project, Justin Rudd Community Action Team (2019)
  • Dornsife Faculty Development Funds, USC (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Master Teacher, The Writing Program Mentoring Committee, USC (2013-2015)
  • The PanHellenic Council Faculty Excellence Award, USC (2013)
  • Center for Scholarly Technology C3 Grant: Course Continuity in Crisis, USC (2012-2013)
  • Dean’s Dissertation Year Program Fellowship, UCR (2011)
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