Mason English Professor Scott Berg Honored for Work on Dakota War

Posted: November 11, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: November 12, 2013 at 6:44 am

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By Catherine Probst

38NoosespicThe Library of Virginia recently honored Scott Berg, assistant professor of English at George Mason University, with the 2013 Literary Award for Nonfiction as part of the 16th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. The award recognizes his book “38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End.”

“Virginia is a hospitable place for writers of all kinds, especially, perhaps, those of an historical stripe,” says Berg. “I’m gratified that the Library of Virginia treats literature and history as fully compatible partners. Narrative is narrative—our interest in compelling human stories extends in many different directions.”

In his book, Berg details the six-week conflict along the Minnesota frontier between the Dakota warriors and settlers and federal troops in 1862. When the uprising was over and the Dakotas captured, more than 300 Indians were found guilty of murder. Although President Abraham Lincoln, embroiled in the Civil War at the time, stepped in to spare the lives of 265 of the condemned men, the Dakota tribe and their way of life had been destroyed.

Born and raised in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Berg received a BA in architecture from the University of Minnesota, an MA in English from Miami University of Ohio and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason, where he now teaches nonfiction writing and literature. Since 1999, he has also been a contributor to the Washington Post and other publications.

His principal research interests include place origins, architectural history, urban history and the intersections of lesser-known individuals with history’s more famous figures.

Berg is also the author of “Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.”

Another Mason history professor, Cynthia Kierner, was a nonfiction finalist for her book “Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times.” In her book, Kierner chronicles the life of the oldest and favorite daughter of Thomas Jefferson and “offers a unique look at American history from the perspective of this intelligent, tactfully assertive woman.”

Kierner’s book was recently honored with the Richard Slatten Award by the Virginia Historical Society.

Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at

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