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MSU Profiles

Love of the arts expressed in the classroom, community and beyond

From Williston, N.D., to Portland, Ore., to Stuttgart, Germany, Eric Furuseth, humanities and English associate professor, got a unique taste of the arts at an early age. This passion grew throughout the years. He has proudly taught about the history of the arts and culture of the western world at MSU for more than 20 years.

"I've been a bookworm since I was a kid," Furuseth said. "I loved to take in stories and history, so I was reading all the time. Now I tend to be listening to audio books all the time. Having a really broad background of understanding helps in the study of the humanities, which are 'really the study of everything' as one of my great old literature professors once said."

Furuseth not only enjoys reading good literature, he writes actively as he points out are many others in the MSU Division of Humanities. He reads his short stories to audiences on the Minot State University campus and around the state. In addition to his creative writing, he also presents scholarly work at regional conferences. His focus is on British writers such as Lord Byron and Edmund Burke of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but he has presented papers on Shakespeare's plays and 20th century writers as well.

The three classes that make up the humanities sequence at Minot State are divided historically with the ancient world first (Hum 251), the late Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods second (Hum 252), and more recent events third (Hum 253).

"All three cover the great artistic, literary, musical, and cultural events of their times to the extent that the student should emerge from the classes with knowledge that is important to educated people living in our society," Furuseth explained.

Another art form near and dear to his heart is music. Having grown up in a musical family and attending the opera in Oregon and Germany, opera influenced him early on in life.

"My mother played the piano very beautifully," Furuseth recalled. "She had my siblings and I singing around the piano as soon as we were able, and she was my accompanist for my first vocal recital as a freshman in college."

His early love of music continues today, as Furuseth, a bass singer, often performs in Western Plains Opera productions, the MSU choir, Chamber Chorale, MSU Summer Theatre, The Five of Us, and more. That enthusiasm for song exists in the classroom. When the subject matter is musical or poetic, Furuseth will sometimes sing to his class.

"It startles some students occasionally, but mostly over the years I have found that they enjoy it," Furuseth said. "And when teaching literature classes such Age of Shakespeare, I want good, literary discussion in the classroom and encourage the students to share their ideas first before I launch into all the things I want them to know. Our literature classes also have strong writing components. I have been generally pleased with the insights and writing ability of the majority of our literature students over the years."

Furuseth spent his high school years in Germany, as his parents were teachers for an American Army school in Stuttgart. He traveled extensively and remembers, among other things, a private "communion" with the Mona Lisa in Paris when he was 16. Furuseth still travels to Europe regularly to see the great works he speaks about every semester. He feels it is important to continue his education, especially in the study of art.

As a center for the arts, Furuseth sees MSU as an open, idea-filled place, and just the right size, offering lots of opportunities.

"I always tell my students that MSU is the cultural center for a very large area, not a very populous area, but a very large geographical area. In the whole time I've lived here, Minot and MSU has never failed to respond energetically to the challenge," Furuseth said. "The faculty that make up our humanities and music divisions have been terrific at generating art and ideas for the area."

"MSU is a wonderful combination of tradition and innovation, with a lot of the sophisticated ideas you would expect at a university." Furuseth said. "I really like all of the components that make MSU what it is. We know students will find a lot to inspire them in our humanities courses."