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Reflections from Louise Erdrich '76

Louise Erdrich '76
Credit: Paul Emmel Photography
Author Louise Erdrich '76 will deliver the main address at the College's 2009 Commencement exercises on Sunday morning, June 14, on the Green. She is also one of seven individuals who will receive honorary degrees at the event. Erdrich has won acclaim as a writer in multiple genres-most recently as a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel Plague of Doves.

What's different about Dartmouth since your days as a student?
"The College has changed to reflect the complexity of a multicultural and double-gendered world. It is a richer place. But as I am told by my daughter Aza [Class of 2011] and other students, the professors are still superlative."

Which professors particularly influenced you?
"I was fortunate to have Brenda Silver and Alan Gaylord as English professors in my freshman year. The first paper I ever wrote was titled 'Falstaff, The Portly Polygon'-I was making the point the Falstaff was a multi-faceted person. Instead of making me wear a dunce cap, Professor Gaylord sat down with me and helped me learn to write an English paper. Brenda Silver became an advisor and steered me toward Virginia Woolf, which changed my life."

You are a member of Dartmouth's first coeducational class.
"To feel part of a tradition beginning with the first year of co-education and the first year of recommitment to the education of Native Americans at Dartmouth is tremendous. I take President Wright's invitation to speak at Commencement very seriously, and I am honored."

Interview by KELLY SEAMAN


Last Updated: 6/2/09