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KU Graduate Student Wins Scholars for the Dream Travel Award

February 20, 2014

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Kutztown University graduate student Amanda Funk, of Reading, Pa., is the winner of the Scholars for the Dream travel award, which provides funding toward presenting at this year's National Council of Teachers for English (NCTE) Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and a one-year membership to NCTE. 

The award, which is given to first-time conference presenters who belong to a historically underrepresented group, recognizes originality of research, significance of pedagogical or theoretical contributions to the field and the potential for larger, subsequent projects. 

Funk will present her research, "Transparent Native America: A Reflection on Vulnerability, Resiliency and Authenticity in Rhetorical Indian Territory," which emphasizes the need to incorporate more Native American voices into the existing archive of Native American literature. Funk is herself a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. 

"There are so many different Native American perspectives, even within the same tribe," Funk explained. "I think there's a mistaken idea of 'authentic Indianness' in contemporary Native American literature. Everyone has their own background, which is a juxtaposition of Native American culture and the culture they live in. The point is not to discover one 'authentic' representation, but to include more voices. Contemporary Indians should write about what it's like to be a contemporary Indian. The story I can tell won't be the same as anybody else's." 

The idea for her research originated in an essay on Native American rhetoric Funk wrote for her senior colloquium. 

"While I was reading current Native American literature, I noticed there didn't seem to be any voices that sounded like mine would," she recalled. "It got me thinking that more voices should be included. Everyone's voice should matter." 

Her presentation envisions a transparent Native America; one that doesn't rely on stereotype, blood quantum, color or origin, but rather, focuses on how the individual defines oneself as Native American. Identity should not be externally defined. 

Funk's advisor, Dr. Amanda Morris, professor of English and director of the University Writing Center, helped with early drafts of the paper and reached out to colleagues from the CCCC and the American Indian Caucus for advice and feedback on essay revisions. 

Funk, who received her bachelor's degree in English from KU in 2013 and is currently a second semester graduate student in the Department of English, will receive the award on March 20 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is also a graduate assistant in Kutztown University's Writing Center.