- Guggenheim Fellow (1995)
- Fulbright Award (1987)
John McDowell has been a member of the faculty at IU Bloomington his entire academic career. He received a B.A. in music from Swarthmore College in 1969. He began at IU as a lecturer before being promoted to assistant professor of folklore in 1975, the same year he received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin. He was promoted to associate professor of folklore in 1981, and recommended for tenure and appointed to the faculty of the Graduate School in 1983. He was acting chairperson of the Folklore Institute from 1989 to 1990, was promoted to professor of folklore in 1990, and was chairperson of the Folklore Institute from 1991 to 1995 and from 1999 to 2003. He was named the acting director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in 1998, adjunct professor of anthropology and adjunct professor of Latino studies in 2002, and was chairperson of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology from 2010 to 2012 and from 2015 to 2017. He continues as a professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, director of undergraduate studies, and editor of the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews.
McDowell’s most recent books are ¡Corrido! The Living Ballad of Mexico’s Western Coast (University of New Mexico Press, 2015) and Animal Tales from the Caribbean, collected by George List, co-edited with Juan Sebastián Rojas (IU Press, 2017). He is a member in the American Anthropological Association, the American Folklore Society, the Latin American Studies Association, and the Society for Ethnomusicology.
McDowell has received various grants, prizes, and awards throughout his career. His first being the Chicago Folklore Prize for Children’s Riddling (IU Press, 1979), followed by a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship in Colombia in 1978-1979, a Fulbright Lectureship in Ghana in 1987-1988, and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants in 1988 and 2001. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in folklore and popular culture in 1995, and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society in 2004.