What is BarnabyLab?

Barnaby Lab is a year-long study of the novel Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens. The project is directed by Jacqueline Jean Barrios—a public school teacher and graduate student of literature and urbanism at UCLA—and supported by seniors of the USC NAI program who are enrolled in Ms. Barrios’s AP Literature class.

In partnership with the Dickens Project and with the help of volunteers in fields such as literary study, urban research, visual design, and the performing arts, Barnaby Lab hosts intensives, classroom swaps, field trips, and guest workshops throughout the year, creating a unique interdisciplinary learning experience based on the novel. Students produce visual and performing art based on their studies over the course of the year, and the Lab culminates with a public festival and production, wherein students present their knowledge of the novel through a series of projects and a theatrical adaptation of the book, to be performed for their community.

As part of its collaboration with the Dickens Project, NAI’s seniors are invited to pen essays for a competition to attend the annual Dickens Universe conference, hosted at UC Santa Cruz. Essay winners earn an all-expenses-paid spot at the Dickens Universe for a communal investigation of Dickens’s novel in an immersive, college-like environment.

This Dickens Universe scholarship is the culmination of the NAI-Dickens Project collaboration, which works to energize the scholarship of literature within communities, and to address the wider implications of such work when considering the equity of, access to, and future of education in the humanities.


USC NAI is a seven-year college access program for students attending public school in South and East Los Angeles.  Students who remain in good standing within the program from sixth grade to graduation are eligible for full scholarships to USC. Since its first graduating class in 1997, nearly 1,000 students have completed USC NAI, 83 percent of whom were enrolled as freshmen at four-year universities. 


Foshay Learning Center is the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) K-12 urban learning center situated in the Jefferson Park less than a mile from USC, and is a USC Family of Five neighborhood school. It is the public school affiliated with the USC NAI program in South LA, sending more first year USC students than any other high school as the campus’s top feeder institute in 2017. 


Foshay seniors in the USC NAI program cap their academic preparation in English Language Arts as students in AP English Literature.  In partnership with the Dickens Project, they read and study the assigned Victorian novel of that year’s Dickens Universe conference in their AP English literature class. To enrich the study of the novel, the immersive LitLab experience includes projects with university faculty and students, classroom swaps, field trips, guest scholars, advanced literary intensives, and visual and performing arts adaptations. LitLab is directed by Jacqueline Jean Barrios, AP English teacher, director and Ph.D. student at UCLA. 

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