Gwen Westerman, Ph.D.

Professor | English Literature & English Studies and Technical Communication

Address: 229F Armstrong Hall (AH 229F)
Phone: 507-389-5508


  • Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas
  • M.A. in English from Oklahoma State University
  • B.A. in English with a minor in Philosophy from Oklahoma State University

Gwen Westerman is a first-generation college student who had no intentions of teaching when she arrived at Oklahoma State University, but an elective class in American literature altered her trajectory forever. She changed her major in her senior year from Chemistry to English, and focused her sights on Literature and Technical Communication. After seven years in corporate communications, Dr. Westerman came to MSU to teach technical communication, literature, writing, and Humanities.

She is co-author of Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota, which won two Minnesota Book Awards and an AASLH Leadership in History Award. Her poetry collection Follow the Blackbirds is written in English and Dakota, one of her heritage languages. Her poems and essays can be found in POETRY, Yellow Medicine Review, Water-Stone Review, Natural Bridge, and at

Dr. Westerman’s academic work has been recognized with a NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations grant; as well as an MSU Presidential Teaching Scholar award, the Douglas R. Moore Faculty Research Lectureship, and a Distinguished Faculty Scholar award.

A fiber artist, Dr. Westerman has works in the permanent collections of the Minnesota Historical Society; the Great Plains Art Museum; the University Art Galleries at the University of South Dakota; and the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. She was the 2015 Elizabeth Rubendall Artist-in-Residence at the Great Plains Art Museum, and a 2014 Native American Artist-in-Residence at the Minnesota Historical Society. Her work has also been supported by three Minnesota State Arts Board Visual Arts grants.

Recent Publications:
Westerman, Gwen and Glenn M. Wasicuna. “Across Space and Time: Letters from the Dakota, 1838-1878.” Words and Relations: Language Revitalization and the Promise of Indigenous Archives. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, forthcoming 2020.

“Wikcemna sam Wikcemna.” Articles of a Treaty: The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty Poetry Chapbook. Pine Ridge: CAIRNS, 2019. 19.

“Dakota Homecoming,” “Theory Doesn’t Live Here,” and “Undivided Interest” (new poems); “Owotaŋna Sececa,” “Linear Process,” “Genetic Code,” “Quantum Theory” (reprinted). In New Poets of Native Nations. Ed. Heid E. Erdrich. Minneapolis: Graywolf P, 2018. 65-73.

“Taŋka Tanka.” POETRY Magazine (June 2018).

“Treaties Are More than a Piece of Paper: Why Words Matter.” Albany Government Law Review 10.1 (Spring 2017). 293-317.

“Just Another Naming Ceremony” (graphic form illustrated by Tara Ogaick). In Sovereign Traces, Volume 1: Not (Just) (An)other. East Lansing: Michigan State Univ Press, 2018). 93-102.

Recent Courses Taught:

  • ENG 696: Technical Communication Capstone
  • ENG 610: British & American Romanticism
  • ENG 211W: Multicultural Literature; HUM 150: Cave Paintings to Cathedrals


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