Stephane Dunn ’94 M.A., ’00MFA, ’00 Ph.D., has always savored reading. Her parents kept books around her childhood home in Elkhart, Indiana, and she frequently visited the public library with her older sister. She’s still in contact with her now-88-year-old sixth-grade teacher, who encouraged her to write and create skits in class, and also with her high school English teacher Mrs. Poe, who let Dunn borrow books from her classroom library. Dunn thanks both teachers in the acknowledgments of her 2022 young-adult novel, Snitchers.
Dunn also credits the “undeclared storytellers” of her life — her aunties, mother and grandmother — whose knack for oral history and affinity for language inspired Dunn from a young age to fall in love with nontraditional narrative forms. “That was such a colorful tapestry of voices — the way they talked, reminisced about down South. . . . Their voices are accents that have remained imprinted on my imagination,” she says.
Notre Dame was a part of Dunn’s life even before she enrolled as a graduate student. In high school, she spent several summers on campus in the Upward Bound program, which helps low-income and first-generation students prepare for college, and she has fond memories of catching lightning bugs with her cousins at her grandmother’s house on the corner of Sorin and St. Peter streets.
Originally published by Notre Dame Magazine at magazine.nd.edu in its Summer 2023 issue.