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MSU English professor wins 2021 High Plains 'Big Sky' Book Award

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 19:52:00-04

A Montana State English professor has won the 2021 High Plains Big Sky Book Award for her book on William Shakespeare and his presence in Montana.

A call came into Dr. Gretchen Minton, with a message congratulating her as a High Plains Book Award winner. Minton recalls the feeling of disbelief and gratitude.

Her book, "Shakespeare in Montana: Big Sky Country’s Love Affair with the World’s Most Famous Writer," began as a passion project for Minton, whose love of Shakespeare began in middle school.

“In middle school, we were reading Romeo and Juliet, but the thing that perhaps really made me go in that direction was an Honors Shakespeare class I had in high school. I found myself incredibly attracted to the characters, actors, and the situations,” Minton said.

Initially, Minton and her husband began researching the Mountain Men of Montana, one of which was illiterate and had Shakespeare read to him. A short article was written by Minton.

Following that, an interest was sparked in Minton to dig up more connections Montanans of the past and present have to "the World’s Most Famous Writer." Thus, combining a book that lovers of Shakespeare and lovers of Montana history could enjoy.

“It’s the million-dollar question: why Shakespeare? He gave us so many opportunities for reading and thinking perhaps best of all because his plays proposed questions, rather than give us answers,” Minton said.

Minton notes some of her growth and expansion of knowledge to her students, combining teaching and researching for the betterment of all. She will bring her findings to her students, engage in conversation to learn more and see different aspects.

One of her students, Sophia Sisler, elaborates on Professor Minton’s teachings and influence.

“She’s just such an amazing value in my education. She’s the one that kept me coming to school and staying in Bozeman; if it wasn’t for her, I’d probably have moved out,” Sisler said.

Minton is already working on another book and is eager to delve into her love of theater.