Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Matters of Culture and Community: David Treuer

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Matters of Culture and Community: David Treuer

Article excerpt

Title: Associate professor of English, University of Minnesota

Education: Ph.D. and M.A., anthropology, University of Michigan; B.A. Princeton University

Age: 39

Career mentor: Toni Morrison

Have you always wanted to be a writer?. "If I wasn't allowed to be me, I would be the musician Prince."

"Be unafraid! Strike out in new directions for yourself. The real purpose of scholarship is to do new work that is far out and away from the pack." This is the advice David Treuer has for budding scholars.

Treuer's brash virtuosity has served him well. He has authored several successful novels, including The Translation of Dr. Appelles and The Hiawatha and served on the editorial board of the newly released A New Literary History of American Literature edited by Dr. Werner Sollors and Greil Marcus. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, McKnight Presidential Fellowship and Franklin Research Award from the American Philosophical Society.

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Underpinning the fireworks of his career, however, is an abiding love for his culture, community and family. Primarily raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota, he treasures his Ojibwe language and religion. "I am connected to Leech Lake by bonds of religion and kinship in ways I can't begin to tabulate," he says. This connection, he says, feeds him physically, spiritually and emotionally.

He recalls that the author Toni Morrison, his academic adviser at Princeton University, suggested he devote himself to something larger than his writing. He has taken her advice to heart. Passionate about Ojibwe language and cultural preservation, he is immersed in community activities that further this goal.

Surprisingly, Treuer did not always want to be a writer. As an undergraduate at Princeton, he was interested in classical music composition. …

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