Schoolteachers to learn at Western this summer with help of NEH grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Western Washington University English Professor John Purdy a $122,000 grant to bring school teachers to Western for a summer seminar.

The NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers enables teachers to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

The goal for the five-week seminar at Western during summer 2012 will be to examine, closely and in great detail, four contemporary Native American novels: “The Surrounded” by D’Arcy McNickle (Métis), “House Made of Dawn” by N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), “Winter in the Blood” by James Welch (Blackfeet/Gros Ventre), and “Ceremony” by Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo).

“We will examine these four ‘firsts’—the first extended narrative by each author—in the contexts of the cultures that they portray. These novels represent the achievements of fledgling writers from very different backgrounds and experiences who faced similar artistic and rhetorical challenges when they chose to write a novel. Each, in turn, provided noteworthy contributions to American literatures in general, and collectively have come to reflect a definitive center for the rapidly expanding canon of Native American fiction,” Purdy said.

The seminar at Western is designed for full‑time teachers, but other K-12 school personnel, such as librarians and administrators, may apply as well. Substitute teachers or part-time personnel are not eligible. The 16 participants selected will receive a stipend of $3,900. For more information, including how to apply, visit: or email:

John Purdy received his doctorate from Arizona State University. A specialist in Native American literatures, he is the author of “Word Ways: The Novels of D’Arcy McNickle” and of several articles and works of fiction and poetry. He edited the collection of essays “The Legacy of D’Arcy McNickle” and “Nothing But the Truth: an Anthology of Native American Literature.” He developed Western’s Native American Studies minor. He served as a Fulbright Lecturer at Universtät Mannheim in 1989, and again in 2000, and was on a Fulbright for fall 1993 in New Zealand. During the summers of 1993, 1995 and 2002 he directed summer seminars for school teachers, funded by the NEH. His newest books are “Writing Indian, Native Conversations” and a novel, “Riding Shotgun into the Promised Land.”

The Department of English is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Western.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 12:57pm