Two College professors are among The University of Alabama National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award recipients, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching. Sarah Barry, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and Dr. James McNaughton, assistant professor in the Department of English, are two of the 2013 recipients.
Barry joined the College’s faculty in 2006. Since her arrival, she has taught a variety of classes, engaging in many collaborative, creative research projects and serving the dance program in leadership and outreach roles.
Barry has taught all levels of modern dance technique, dance history and choreography classes. She has also established a service-learning course, Approaches to Dance Instruction. In a partnership with Tuscaloosa City Schools, Barry takes students enrolled in this class to teach dance to elementary students for several weeks during their PE class time. Dance students gain hands-on teaching experience and city school students enjoy dance instruction not available otherwise in the public schools.
Barry has choreographed 13 new dances for the Department’s pre-professional company, Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, in addition to creating works for the Dance Collection, Sanspointe Dance Company and a commissioned work for the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Some of these dances have been performed at the American College Dance Festival, where her work has been honored by choreographers from across the nation.
More recently, she has been working with dance on film. Her screen dance “there, again” was one of 23 shorts selected for the 2012 San Francisco Dance Film Festival. She also received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to restage Jose Limon’s 1956 masterwork “There is a Time” for the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre.
Barry earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in modern dance from the University of Utah.
McNaughton joined the faculty in 2007 after teaching a year as a senior fellow in the College’s Blount Undergraduate Initiative. He teaches graduate seminars on literary modernism and a broad range of undergraduate courses, from sophomore surveys of British literature to senior-level courses on 20th-century poetry, modernism and literature between the wars.
He recently established Alabama in Ireland, a study abroad program in conjunction with the National University of Ireland, Galway, where UA students take classes with Galway faculty and also study James Joyce’s “Ulysses” with McNaughton. He is known for working with numerous undergraduate and graduate English students at all stages of their studies and theses.
The awards announcement noted that McNaughton employs the Socratic exchange in his classroom and offers innovative assignments that illustrate how reading and writing are living practices. His students perform a marathon public reading of Ulysses, write reviews of recently published collections of poems and attend performances of plays read in class.
McNaughton earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Georgia; and a Master of Arts and a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Michigan.