Past President’s Address 1993

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Past President’s Address 1993

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

AN EASTERN DUDE RIDES WEST—AGAIN

Joseph M. Flora, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, WLA President 1992


WLA Past-presidential Address, given 1993 in Wichita, Kansas


Asked for a title for this address, I at first toyed with “A Tenderfoot Rides West.” I am, after all, the first WLA president to come from an eastern university, to have eastern roots, to have spent virtually all of his life east of the Mississippi. But tenderfoot hardly seemed right. I have been a WLA member for too long, and you have charged me with too many tasks for that sobriquet to work. You’ve rewarded me with merit badges and unbounded good fellowship—and in 1992 the honor of Head Scout. Thank you for the spurs.

So I opted for dude, which in one of its meanings carries the eastern connotation. Definition number one of my dictionary reads, “An easterner or city person who vacations on a western ranch.” Listed as slang in definition three, dude is “a fellow, a chap.” In any sense, the word is informal, as this address is designed to be. For any tautology, apologies.

The label West is, of course, a much more slippery word than dude. It conveys history as well as mythology. At the University of Michigan, we sang—and folks there still sing—“Hail, hail to Michigan, the champions of the West.” Michigan originated as a part of the Northwest Territory. “Easterners” certainly thought of it as a wild, wild West. As late as 1866, when native Ohioan William Dean Howells published Venetian Life, James Russell Lowell expressed amazement that a book of such “airy elegance” could have been written by someone from “the rough-and-ready West.” Such attitudes survived Lowell. I recall from my undergraduate days Austin Warren’s explaining to Michigan students that cultured Bostonians thought of anything west of Pittsburgh as one vast region known as “Ioway.” Easterners are wont to make midwesterners feel like westerners.

But though the tension between East and West has been one ingredient of American life, historically the pull west has been the dominant pull. Most Americans, in some ways, have been westerners. In his whole life, Thomas Jefferson never ventured more than a few miles west of Monticello, but he it was who maneuvered the Louisiana Purchase; he it was who sent Lewis and Clark on their great journey to the Pacific. To good purpose, J. Golden Taylor included Cambridge, Mass., poet E. E. Cummings in his anthology of western American literature, along with Robert Frost, who, though born in San Francisco, is counted the great poet of New England experience. Easterners and midwesterners of my generation and the generation before me grew up with a vision of the West. We thought about it a lot. We were guided by Zane Grey and a host of other popular writers who wrote Westerns. Almost weekly, we would see at least one Western film, sometimes more. And West was where California lay—still the promised land in those pre-Joan Didion days.

And so I remember the adventure of my first trip to the trans-Mississippi West. In graduate school, I thought a change of scene for a summer would enhance my preparations—two summer sessions in one summer at Berkeley would allow me to make a good start on my German, and I could take a couple of English courses besides. It was a happy choice: thirteen weeks on the campus by the Bay, in what seemed to me weather close to that of Heaven. It was wonderfully rewarding. One weekend took me to Yosemite, another to Napa Valley, and on another I flew to Los Angeles to see an aunt and uncle I hadn’t seen in years and a cousin I had never met. Los Angeles didn’t seem very different from Detroit, but Yosemite was terrain that spoke adventure. Unlike the owl in Mark Twain’s “Baker’s Blue Jay Yarn,” I was not disappointed. Mostly, of course, I was taking in the ambience of Berkeley and San Francisco. My thoughts had been Western in a larger sense mainly on the cross-country drive to Berkeley. How wonderful it was—and how keen was that very special moment when our automobile crossed the Mississippi. I was in the West.

I relived the magic of my first crossing some fifteen years later, when Scribner’s published Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories. It contained a fragment that Philip Young titled, aptly enough, “Crossing the Mississippi.” This was probably Hemingway’s first attempt at a story set west of the Mississippi. Nick is bound, apparently, for Kansas City, though we don’t know why. It may not be a bad guess that he was going to begin work on a newspaper. It’s October of 1917. News of a White Sox victory over New York in the World Series cheers Nick, helps him check the wasteland images that he sees as his train pauses before making its crossing. Nick takes with him the optimism that many travelers from the East or Midwest took as they made that crossing. Hemingway wrote, “Crossing the Mississippi would be a’ big event [Nick] thought, and he wanted to enjoy every minute of it.” The reality is different from what Nick had expected, but he observes carefully as the train progresses over the long bridge, “The river seemed to move solidly downstream, not to flow but to move like a solid, shifting lake, swirling a little where the abutments of the bridge jutted out. Mark Twain, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and LaSalle crowded each other in Nick’s mind as he looked up the flat, brown plain of slow-moving water. ‘Anyhow, I’ve seen the Mississippi,’ he thought happily to himself.” A force of nature against a man-made structure, an author, his living characters, a French explorer “crowd” Nick’s mind—history and nature and myth and literature. Nick has one of those highly satisfying moments that Hemingway occasionally gave him: “‘Anyhow, I’ve seen the Mississippi,’ he thought.” The moment was so ecstatic that Hemingway stopped writing with that sentence. He didn’t give us a story, but the fragment satisfactorily catches a special moment that many Americans have experienced, me included, upon crossing the great river.

For Americans who cross that river east to west, there are usually consequences, often great consequences. Sometimes lives are changed unalterably. And many a Western story describes such transformation. Think about the easterner of Crane’s “The Blue Hotel.” The West has challenged his notion of himself, and he knows that he failed the test. His view of human nature will be ever dark: “Johnnie was cheating. I saw him. I know it. And I refused to stand up and be a man.” The poor Swede of Crane’s story was also a newcomer to the West, so caught up by his own stereotypes of the West that he ensured his own death. Though strangers sometimes meet violent ends, writers have also enjoyed describing positive transformations. We think of the narrator of Owen Wister’s The Virginian and of Molly Stark Wood.

Going west makes a difference not only in literature, but in life. Theodore Roosevelt, Owen Wister, Zane Grey, Jack Schaefer, Willa Cather, Mary Hallock Foote, and a host of others provide ready examples. Of course, the Western Literature Association itself has its own history of consequences of eastern visits to the West. You will be interested in one of the most recent. Last year, Doris Betts of North Carolina gave the keynote address at WLA. Her novel Heading West described consequences of an unscheduled visit west by Nancy Finch, a librarian from North Carolina: Nancy had been kidnapped. At WLA, southerner Betts discussed her use of Western themes in that novel and reflected on the influence of Western writing on her. But while she was in Reno, Betts was listening and observing—as writers do. When Thomas Wolfe had visited Reno some fifty years earlier, he had been fascinated with the gaudiness of the city’s chief industry and all that surrounds it. Betts quickly got by that pleasure seeking and focused her inner eye elsewhere. She went on our Saturday outing, and it proved for her to be more than a tourist’s excursion. The country around Reno, especially Donner Lake and its surroundings, spoke to her. At WLA, Betts found the theme and setting for her next novel. She is now subscribing to the Sparks, Nevada, newspaper, suggesting that her novel won’t be a retelling of the Donner excursion. As Betts says, that has already been done, by Vardis Fisher and others, all of which she has been busily reading. But the Donner story will be reflected in her theme.

A graduate student when I first crossed the Mississippi, I was about to meet dimensions of the West I hadn’t before considered. A couple of years later in a seminar, I became acquainted with the work of Vardis Fisher. The rest is history. Through his work, I was often in imagination west of the Mississippi. The next physical trip I took was, in fact, to Hagerman, Idaho, and the Fisher ranch. That was a weekend to remember! It personalized a correspondence with Fisher that had been under way, one that after Fisher’s death was extended to Opal Fisher.

I learned from Fisher about the founding of the Western Literature Association, though several meetings would pass before I attended my first one. Back East, a member of MLA and SAMLA, I was making my way, with much naiveté, in a new region on a modest salary at a university with limited travel budgets. Attending WLA seemed a remote and exotic possibility. I’ll be ever grateful to Wilber Stevens of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for his telephone call inviting me to be on a panel on the works of Vardis Fisher. “I’ll do it,” I said. Now I stress to graduate students: “You are your dissertation.”

The year of my first WLA meeting was 1975, the place Durango. My flight took me through Denver. In that airport, you knew you weren’t in the East or the Midwest. The clue was in the garb of all those Western Dudes—the cowboy boots and hats and the bolos. The women, however, could have been from Atlanta. As Melville might say, “Surely there is meaning in these things.” And I remember the Durango airport. That confirmed that I was in the West.

If the airport was small and remotely located, that quickly became unimportant. Western welcome really began there, for a group of WLA people were on the flight. Audrey Peterson was among them, and I was soon talking with someone who had not only heard of Vardis Fisher but knew my book on him! And so it continued in Durango, where at the convention hotel Jack Schaefer himself was one of the Western voices making me and others feel at home, part of a fellowship as well as a professional organization. Like other newcomers, I was meeting people who wished to see me again. The excitement of my first WLA meeting was such that already I was making plans to be present the next year in Bellingham. Helen Stauffer (Kearney is pronounced “Carney,” she taught me) was also among the first-timers that year. She will remember how we all hated to see the meeting end. To embellish would be tedious, but I am sure that many here could also testify to the special qualities of first WLA meetings, to the good fellowship and the bonds that were made.

A quick check of the membership directory will confirm how successful the band of western scholars who founded the association have been in attracting easterners to the organization. Many of us have served on the Executive Committee of the organization, and after I had been in WLA for a few years, some folks began to suggest that it might even be appropriate to have a president from the East, pointing out that the location of the meeting need not be tied to the school of the president. With the growing number of easterners, some began to suggest that the Association might even wish to meet one year in the East. Hints of manifest destiny! In 1980, WLA went to the great river itself for its meeting. In 1983, George Day carried us to Minneapolis and St. Paul—Big Ten country, where the ghosts are those of Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald, though Fred Manfred could have given us a tour of the upper regions of the Father of Waters.

When in 1989 members of the Executive Committee asked me to accept nomination as vice president of WLA, with presidency two years down the road, I thought it a good moment for me to say yes, to agree to the work that would, I hoped, say thank you to an organization that had been not only extraordinarily welcoming, but extraordinarily supportive of my work and had opened my eyes to new opportunities and new ways of seeing. Ann Ronald agreed to hold the 1992 meeting in Reno. Let me here renew my thanks to her and to her splendid colleagues at the University of Nevada-Reno for their partnership. I might have managed local arrangements by phone, or a quick visit, but I was glad that I didn’t have to do that.

My election was the occasion for renewed discussion of the possibility for holding an annual meeting east of the Mississippi. There might, after all, be some point to our meeting in Asheville, North Carolina, let’s say, Vardis Fisher had keenly identified with Thomas Wolfe because of the similarities of their mountain origins. Or we might have met in Boone, North Carolina, and had a major focus on re-imagining older notions of West.

When the Executive Committee talked about the possibility of some day meeting in the East, we agreed that my election was a good moment to go beyond cocktail-hour talk; to see what the membership as a whole might think about meeting in the East now and then. So we devised a questionnaire, and in bright purple so it couldn’t be missed, it went to the membership.

For several weeks, the purple forms kept my mailbox full and enlivened my reading. One hundred thirty-seven members responded. That is a pretty strong survey response, I think. The responses that came after the deadline were less impassioned than those that came in the initial flurry and were often more thoughtful. There was, to be sure, a good deal of passion from the most eager respondents. For some members, going east of the Mississippi for WLA would approach something like blasphemy; others would be extremely reluctant to go in that direction—for any purpose—I gathered. When their time comes, they want to die in the West—and with their boots on.

Noting the increasing percentage of members who live in the East and suggesting that holding some conference meetings in the East might equalize the burden of the greater travel expenses easterners face, the questionnaire asked members to agree or disagree with this statement: “WLA conferences should be held ONLY in the region of North America WEST of the Mississippi River (or its average longitude).” The form provided space for comments. Fifty-seven members agreed with the statement; seventy-six members disagreed. Four members (hating to be bound by statements with only) did not check but explained; they would fit in the disagree column. So count the vote 76 for policy that might permit an occasional meeting in the East and 57 against such policy. That’s a bigger margin than President Clinton got on his budget, but it is hardly a pressing mandate for change. Certainly it did not seem to me strong enough to recommend that the Executive Committee consider a policy for meeting in the East every fourth year, as some recommend. Most easterners like coming west very regularly, though they tend to approve the notion that it might be desirable for WLA to meet in the East, at least occasionally. Some Westerners eloquently argued the same position. The Chaucer Society, as one of you noted, does not meet only in England. Likewise, Western literature is not just for the West. Nor are all who write it western by every standard.

There are, of course, practical considerations in these matters. An advisory vote does not chart a course, as a national budget vote might. WLA does, after all, want a good attendance at its meetings. So does SAMLA, which prides itself on being the largest of the regional MLAs. SAMLA has its best attendance when the meeting is in Atlanta; so we meet there most often, currently in alternate years. Washington, DC, does well for SAMLA, too. But a Florida site will cut down on attendance. It’s too far for too many people. Members in the Upper South tend to stay away. But SAMLA continues to experiment. Next year SAMLA meets in Baltimore, and probably Florida will get another chance in some distant year. Even now, the SAMLA membership is voting on the proposition that all meetings be held in Atlanta.

The drama for MLA is similar. New York is a sure draw, but there was a falling-off, some of you know, when the meeting was held in Houston, and I make no prediction about Toronto. But come what may, MLA will survive! Count on it.

WLA will wish to be similarly pragmatic, but like MLA it should not be afraid to experiment. It is encouraging that October 1995 will find WLA meeting in Canada for the first time ever. We seem agreed, however, that the Association does not want to meet in big eastern or midwestern cities. It doesn’t want Cleveland, but it might like Boone. Some year, we might want to meet on the shores of Lake George in New York, one of the beautiful Wests of James Fenimore Cooper.

There would be no point in holding SAMLA’s meeting in St. Louis, or in holding the Rocky Mountain MLA’s meeting there. And although there are members in those organizations not from the defining regions, the organizations exist first to serve a region. The Western Literature Association, by contrast, is a national organization; it has increasingly become national in membership and in vision. Recognizing West as a fluid concept in American history, we study the literature of many Wests.

I draw back from any formulas or ratios for future meeting sites, but I hope we will continue to keep our options open. If we make a mistake some year, WLA will survive. The survey responses—with that majority favoring experimentation—strike me as worthy of inclusion in the WLA archives, and I submit them this day to Tom Lyon.

Whatever glitches or triumphs lie ahead, I am confident that we will continue to be a noticeably welcoming and inclusive organization. “Roll on, WLA, roll on!” This eastern dude salutes you and cheers you on to even greater achievement.

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The Dorys Crow Grover Awards

Friday, June 12th, 2015

In 1966, Washington State University graduate student Dorys Crow Grover joined the fledgling Western Literature Association and started attending its conferences. From her books on WLA’s first Distinguished Achievement Award recipient, Vardis Fisher, to her work on Hemingway and Graves, Professor Grover helped to develop the field of western American literary studies. After teaching for over two decades at East Texas State University, Professor Grover retired in 1993, splitting her time between Texas and Pendleton, Oregon, where she grew up.

One of her doctoral students, Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English at Utah State University, has created the Dorys Crow Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. Now in its sixth year, the Dorys Crow Grover Award, in the amount of $200 cash and a banquet ticket, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s annual conference whose papers contribute to our critical understandings of region, place, and space in western American literatures.

Creative work is not considered for the Grover Awards.

Please submit an abstract by the proposal deadline. Once your proposal has been accepted, submit the complete, conference-length paper (not exceeding 15 pages) with a cover letter indicating that you wish to be considered for the Dorys Crow Grover Award to our presidents at WLAConference2019@westernlit.org.

The deadline for the completed paper is July 15.

You may submit the same paper for the Taylor Award, if you wish. Award recipients are expected to attend the banquet, where they will receive the award, and to send a letter with the delivered paper to Dorys Crow Grover AFTER the conference.

Note: To be eligible for this award, you must be registered as a graduate student at your institution at the time of the conference. And the award can only be received once. 


The Dorys Grover Award Recipients

YearRecipient
2018Meagan Meylor, University of Southern California
2018Amanda Monteleone, University of Texas at Arlington
2017April Anson
2017Lisa Fink
2016Amy Gore
2016Michael Olausen
2015William V. Lombardi
2015Michael P. Taylor
2014Brittany Henry
2014Lisa Locascio
2014Ashley Reis

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Frequently Asked Conference Questions

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Why should I book a room at the conference hotel if it’s not my most economical option?

Staying at our contracted hotel is the most important thing you can do to help our conference organizers avoid huge losses. When you book a room in a different hotel, a contracted room goes unsold. Unless that room is sold to an unrelated traveler within a certain timeframe before our conference, we must pay penalty fees to the hotel. In addition, the inability to fill the actual number of hotel rooms that we estimated weakens our negotiating power in the future. It also means that we will have to charge higher registration fees in the future to make up for the penalties paid to our contracted hotel. Please support the Western Literature Association by reserving your sleeping room at our official hotel. Yes, it may cost each individual a little more, but you are basically also supporting use of the conference rooms, which are part of the contract when we organize a conference. The more hotel rooms we fill, the cheaper the conference rooms often are. That helps keep our registration fees as low as possible.

>>> Please book your lodging within the official room block.


We live in a digital world. Why should I forego AV?

Most conference hotels hire the services of a separate company to provide audio-visual. The company’s representatives set up the equipment and remain on call to troubleshoot. Their fees are based on a given number of rooms for a given number of days. If we ask for equipment in a room and use it for just one session, we still must pay for the whole day. AV costs for a 3-day conference generally run between $15,000 and $30,000. Of course, we want to accommodate all AV needs, especially if you are talking about images or film, but if PowerPoint isn’t essential to understanding your paper, please consider whether AV is truly necessary for your presentation. Again, this is a matter of keeping our registration fees low.

>> >Please ask for AV only if it is critical to your presentation.


 

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Students Attending the WLA Conference

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Submitting a Conference Paper

WLA’s annual conference includes panel sessions where participants read scholarly or creative works related to the literature of western America  and culture. Each paper presentation is allowed approximately 20 minutes (which is about 10 pages of double-spaced text). If you need some instruction on how to write an abstract for a conference paper, check out the details provided here: Conference Abstracts. Please see conference details for the current WLA Conference. If you have any questions regarding these awards, contact the current WLA Presidents.


Award for Best Graduate Student Paper Submitted to the Conference

In 1984, the J. Golden Taylor Award for Best Essay Submitted to the WLA Conference by a Graduate Student was awarded for the very first time to Anne K. Phillips (now associate professor and assistant department head in English at Kansas State University). Named in honor of the first editor of Western American Literature, the Taylor Award is a prestigious award juried by a team of experts in the field and given annually to a work of scholarship submitted for the annual conference. Creative work is not considered for the Taylor; however, creative work may be submitted to the association’s award for best creative writing submission, and graduate student participants have been successful in winning that in the past. To be eligible for the Taylor award, please submit a conference paper proposal by proposal deadline and the complete paper of no more than 15 pages (if your proposal is accepted) in July, asking to be considered for the award.

More information on the submission process and precise deadlines can be found on the awards page.

Note: The award can only be received once.

A few Taylor alumni at the 2009 Conference in Spearfish, SD: Front row: Joshuah O’Brien (2009), Cheryll Glotfelty (1987) [initiator and former editor of the the WLA Syllabus Exchange], Matthew Lavin (2008) [co-editor of the WLA Syllabus Exchange project] Back row: Matt Burkhart (2003) [grad student rep, 2003-05; EC member 2016-19], Nancy Cook (1988) [present WLA Treasurer & 2011 WLA President], Anne Kaufman (1998) [2014 WLA Co-President], Evelyn Funda (1993) [former WAL Book Review Editor]


The Dorys Crow Grover Awards

In 1966, Washington State University graduate student Dorys Grover joined the fledgling Western Literature Association and started attending its conferences. From her books on WLA’s first Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Vardis Fisher to her work on Hemingway and Graves, Professor Grover helped to develop the field of western American literary studies. After teaching for over two decades at East Texas State University, Professor Grover retired in 1993.

One of her doctoral students, Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English at Utah State University, has created the Dorys Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. The Dorys Grover Award, in the amount of $200 each, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s annual conference whose papers contribute to our critical understandings of region, place, and space in western American literatures

Creative work is not considered for the Grover Awards.

Please find specifics on submission and deadlines on the awards page.

You may submit your paper to both the Taylor and the Grover Awards (as long as it fits the criteria for the Grover Awards).

Note: The award can only be received once. 


The Louis Owens Awards for Graduate Student Presenters

The WLA honors the great writer and scholar Louis Owens for his contributions to western American and American Indian literary studies and for his unfailing generosity as a colleague, teacher, and mentor. The goal of the Louis Owens Awards is to build for the future of the Western Literature Association by modeling Owens’ own support and encouragement of diverse graduate student engagement in western literature and culture studies. The Owens Awards are intended to foster ever-greater diversity within the WLA membership, to help broaden the field of western American literary studies, and to recognize both graduate student scholarship and financial need.

For current information on how to apply, please check here.

Please forward the information to any graduate student who may be eligible to apply.

***

Meet our Owens Recipient from 2011: Johannes Fehrle

I came to my first WLA conference as a graduate student in 2010. I was working on a Ph.D. dissertation on revisionist Westerns in Candian and U.S. American literature at Freiburg University in Southern Germany and found myself pretty much in isolation from other scholars working on western American literature and culture. At this point, I had given papers in colloquia and at Ph.D. conferences, but the WLA Conference was the first “real” conference I submitted a paper to. In retrospect, I have to say I could not have chosen a better conference or wished for a more welcoming, interested and supportive group of scholars and colleagues. Since that first conference, my ties and gratefulness to the WLA have only deepened. I was lucky enough to receive the Owens Award in 2011, which allowed me to return. The contacts and friends I made at these conferences have benefitted me immensely: I received valuable feedback for my dissertation because I got to test new ideas by presenting early versions of my dissertation chapters at the conference. My talks have also led to publications with other members.

Now that I am a bit more firmly situated in the academic world (I completed my Ph.D. in 2012 and am for the time being gainfully employed at a university), I am glad to be able to give back to the organization. From 2013 to 216, I was a member of the Executive Council, which discusses the future of the organization. Telling my colleagues about my positive experience, I was able to recruit other German scholars to attend the conference. Their experience has been much the same as mine: they benefitted greatly in their research and were awed by the openness of the community at the conference. Even though I travel farther than most, like many other attendees, I set aside time and money to travel to the WLA Conference each year, and I am glad to say I have yet to miss one.

—Johannes Fehrle, University of Mannheim (2015)


Professionalization Panels

In 2007, Grad Rep Angela Waldie organized WLA’s first annual Graduate Student Professionalization Panel, a roundtable panel session in which fellow graduate students and experienced faculty members give brief remarks on career-related issues, and then the session is opened up for discussion among all those attending. Since then, we have sometimes had two Grad Student Professionalization Panels. Past professionalization panels have discussed why graduate students should aim to publish and ways they can do just that, how to maximize your time and effort when writing a thesis or dissertation, ways to conquer the first-time teacher jitters, transitioning from an MA program to a PhD program, and what to expect at your thesis or dissertation defense. To request a topic for the panel to cover, email your graduate student representatives, Jes Lopez and Jillian Moore Bennion.


 

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Submission Information

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

WLA Conference 2015

Co-hosted by David Fenimore, University of Nevada, Reno,
and Susan Bernardin, SUNY Oneonta

October 14-17, 2015

THEME: “Visual Culture of the Urban West”

Submission Information:

In addition to proposals on any aspects of the literature and culture of the North American West, we especially encourage innovative proposals on the following:

– Visual culture, film, performance
– Environmental art, politics, justice, literatures
– Indigenous Wests, writers, filmmakers, artists
– Basque-American writers
– Latino/a Studies in Western places
– Twain and Tahoe
– Gendered spaces in the West
– Emigrant and mining narratives
– The recreational West: tourism, mountaineering, river-running

All participants must be members of the Western Literature Association. 

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation.  Proposal deadline: June 15, 2015.  To submit presentations, go to https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2015. You will be asked to create an account with user name and password, after which you may upload and edit your submission(s) at any time prior to the deadline. (User accounts from previous conferences were not carried over, so please take a minute to create a new account.)
Contact us with questions about the conference at WLAConference2015@westernlit.org.

DEADLINE: June 15, 2015.



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WLA Conference 2020

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

55th WLA Conference

Theme: Graphic Wests

October 21-24, 2020

Location: the Hilton San Diego Del Mar, a beautiful coastal location one mile from the beach!


WLA Co-Presidents for 2020 will be Dr. Rebecca Lush, California State University San Marcos, and Dr. Kerry Fine, Arizona State University.   


CFP: GRAPHIC WESTS

October 21-24, 2020

Vortex Mosaic Surfboard, by Cherrie LaPorte. [2014]. Image courtesy of Cherrie LaPorte. Photo © Phil Ireland.

Vortex Mosaic Surfboard, by Cherrie LaPorte. [2014]. Image courtesy of Cherrie LaPorte. Photo © Phil Ireland.

San Diego, home of the Kumeyaay, is a region of shifting borders and contested spaces that has been controlled by Spain, Mexico, and, most recently, the United States. In contemporary times, the region of southern California has nurtured visual culture through Hollywood and Comic Con International, the largest convention for comic book culture in the world hosted annually in San Diego. Drawing on this mixture, the theme “Graphic Wests” invites proposals that take up the graphic in all of its connotations, from graphic content to visual texts as well as the intersections of the two when considering the varied literatures and cultural products of the North American West. We also invite papers that address the unique culture of Southern California, such as surf and coastal literatures, along with papers that examine California writers and themes.

The 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award winners, poet Juan Felipe Herrera (21st National Poet Laureate), and fiction author Stephen Graham Jones, whose works exemplify “Graphic Wests,” will join us at the WLA’s 55th annual conference.  The 2020 conference will take place in the beautiful coastal area of the Hilton San Diego Del Mar located just one mile from the beach and in close proximity to the Cedros Avenue Design District and Solana Beach. Additional speakers will be announced at a future date.

In addition to proposals on any aspect of the literatures and cultures of the North American West, the WLA especially encourages panels and papers that explore the following topics:

  • • Comic books/graphic novels set in the West and/or western comics
  • • Filmic and televisual representations of the West/western
  • • Borderlands literature
  • • Graphic violence, language, and/or sexuality in the West/western
  • • Texts set in the West, or that take up western themes, that incorporate visual elements or make use of graphic design in their engagement with language
  • • California writers and texts (Le Guin, Steinbeck, Didion, Mary Austin, John Rollin Ridge, Helen Hunt Jackson, María Ruiz de Burton, etc.)
  • • Writers and texts that explore California surfing and beach culture
  • • The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Juan Felipe Herrera
  • • The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Stephen Graham Jones

We are also open to sessions on teaching and roundtable discussions. Proposals for individual papers must include a 250-word abstract, and proposals for panels and roundtable discussions must include an abstract for each paper or presentation. All submissions must include A/V requests. Proposals can be submitted using the ConfTool link accessible via the conference webpage starting in February 2020. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2020.

Please submit questions to Rebecca M. Lush or Kerry Fine at WLAConference2020@westernlit.org.


CHECK BACK FOR MORE INFORMATION. It will be posted here as it becomes available.


 

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WLA Conference 2018

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

THEME:

Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States


The WLA Conference 2018 will be hosted by Dr. Emily Lutenski, St. Louis University, and Dr. Michael K. Johnson, University of Maine, Farmington

The conference will be held in St. Louis, MO, Oct. 24 – 27, 2018.
Venue: Chase Park Plaza Hotel.

Emily Lutenski

Emily Lutenski

 

 

Michael K. Johnson

Michael K. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Registration for the 2018
Western Literature Association
conference on
Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States 
is now open!

 

Click the blue button below to register at the ConfTool site.
Register at ConfTool Now
The conference registration deadline is September 24. Late fees ($25 for registration and $5 for meals) will apply after that date.
The Conference Theme

Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States

St. Louis’s Old Courthouse, where Dred Scott initiated his effort to sue for his freedom, is part of the Gateway Arch National Park. The Gateway Arch itself was built as a monument to “men who made possible the territorial expansion of the United States, particularly President Jefferson . . . the great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and the hardy hunters, trappers, frontiersmen and pioneers who contributed to the . . . development of these United States.”

This site, its representations, and the silences they engender, serve as a potent reminder of the intricately linked histories of U.S. imperialism and enslavement. Our conference theme “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States,” is derived from such confluences.

This year’s program offers an incredibly exciting array of contributions by both critics and creative writers, many interrogating the nexus of race and region, indigenous geographies, feminist critical regionalisms, and much more.

If you are presenting, you can search the program by your name in order to see when your paper has been scheduled. You will also see if you have been tentatively assigned to chair a session. As you peruse the program, if you see a panel that has not yet been assigned a chair and you would like to volunteer, please e-mail the conference organizers at wlaconference2018@westernlit.orgto let us know. We will do our best to accommodate these requests!

The Conference Site

The Chase Park Plaza Hotel

The 2018 conference will be held at the historic Chase Park Plaza hotel, constructed in 1922 and located in the city’s Central West End neighborhood, which has been home to some of the St. Louis’s most famous writers, like T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, and William S. Burroughs.

Today, it is a walkable, vibrant neighborhood teeming with restaurants and shops like the independent Left Bank Books. It is adjacent to the 1,300-acre Forest Park, the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, and today the St. Louis Art Museum and Missouri History Museum.

Click the blue button below to make your hotel reservations.
The cutoff date for conference rate reservations is October 3.

Make Reservations at the Chase Park Plaza Now
Conference Travel

Discounts and Ground Transportation

United Airlines will offer travel discounts to conference attendees. Visit www.united.com/meetingtravel and enter the discount code ZEZH245642 in the offer code box–or call the United Meeting Reservation Desk at 1-800-426-1122. Booking fees are waived for meeting reservations. The discount is only available for travel dates between October 20 and October 31, 2018.

Once at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, the Chase Park Plaza is easily accessible by ground transportation. The shuttle service Go Best Express is offering discounts for WLA meeting attendees at the following link: https://gobestexpress.com/reservations?code=WLA2018.

Furthermore, the airport is serviced by taxis, ride share services Uber and Lyft, and the MetroLink light rail, which can take you from the airport to the Central West End station, a few blocks from the Chase.

Keynotes by Distinguished Award Winners

Percival Everett

Percival Everett counts among his many accolades two Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction. He is the author of around 30 books, many set in the American West.

No contemporary African American author has represented the black western experience in such extensive, nuanced, and complex ways. Everett will be a keynote speaker at the conference as winner of the 2018 WLA Distinguished Achievement Award in Creative Writing.

José E. Limón

José E. Limón is the Notre Dame Foundation Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the Mody C. Boatright Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin.

His pathbreaking interdisciplinary work in literature and folklore has long asked pressing questions about the cultural politics of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and Greater Mexico. These resonate today perhaps more urgently than ever. Limón will be a keynote speaker at the conference as winner of the 2018 WLA Distinguished Achievement Award in Criticism.

More Special Events

Whose Streets? Screening and Discussion

Our opening night will feature a screening of Whose Streets?which documents the activism following the police shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.

The screening will be followed by a discussion of these events, and of how contemporary racial politics are shaped by the histories of place.

Past President’s Lunch with Eugene B. Redmond

WLA Past-President Florence Amamoto will speak with East St. Louis poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmond.

An architect of the Black Arts Movement, Redmond’s poetry has often engaged with local borders and borderlands. A poem called “Carryover,” for example, proclaims, “I have been tattooed for life: / A thought called EAST SAINT LOUIS / Is etched on each Island of my Brain.”

Women’s Breakfast and #MeToo Dialogue

Self-identified women and gender nonconforming people are invited to meet over continental breakfast on Thursday, October 25 from 7:30-8:30 in order to establish friendships, coalitions, and mentoring relationships. Breakfast will be followed by a moderated discussion about how the MeToo movement has shaped classrooms, research, and lives.

Sign up for the breakfast with registration; the discussion is open to all conference participants from 8:30-9:00 am. 

A Reading for the Mound Builders

Organized by Professor Chadwick Allen of the University of Washington, “A Reading for the Mound Builders” will feature noted writers LeAnne Howe, Phillip Carroll Morgan, and Allison Hedge Coke.

This will dovetail with a planned excursion to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, the center of the largest pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico.

The Digital Humanities and Western Literature

Sara L. Schwebel, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, will speak about the possibilities of public humanities collaborations.

Her multimedia project in conjunction with Channel Islands National Park is organized around the children’s book Island of the Blue Dolphins, and equips K-12 teachers with tools to teach not only about the book, but also about the indigenous woman whose isolation due to Spanish colonial policies of reducción inspired it.

Awards Banquet

WLA Awards Banquet with Candice Ivory

The “Queen of Avant Soul,” Candice Ivory, will perform at the WLA awards banquet. Today she’s a St. Louisan, but Ms. Ivory has roots in Memphis, Tennessee, and is immersed in the jazz, blues, gospel, and soul traditions of both places. 

There is still time to submit work for some WLA awards to be honored at the banquet, including the J. Golden Taylor Award for best graduate student work submitted to the conference; the Dorys Grover Awards for outstanding graduate student papers on region, place, and space in western American literatures; the Frederick Manfred Award for best creative writing submission to the annual conference; and the Louis Owens Awards for graduate student travel to the conference.

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June 18, 2018

Dear WLA Members,

We hope summer is treating you well, and we look forward to welcoming you to St. Louis in October! To that end, we want this conference to be open to as many as possible, so we are extending the proposal deadline to July 1, 2018.

Understanding Our Place: Conference Proposals, Conference Theme, Conference Site

St. Louis’s Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was initiated. Along with the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, the Old Courthouse comprises the Gateway Arch National Park (which, until 2018, was called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial). The linkage of these sites is a reminder of the intricate relations between U.S. imperialism and histories of enslavement.

Please submit proposals for individual papers and complete sessions to ConfTool. Remember that ConfTool accounts don’t carry over from year to year, so if you haven’t created a 2018 account, you must do so before you submit your proposal. Remember that we welcome critical and creative writing proposals on any aspect of literature and culture of the North American West—but we’re also happy to receive submissions that tie to this year’s conference theme: “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States.”

The Saint Louis Art Museum is housed in the only World’s Fair building—the “Palace of Fine Arts”—designed to be permanent.

The 2018 conference will be held at the historic Chase Park Plaza hotel, constructed in 1922, located in the city’s Central West End neighborhood. The Central West End was home to some of St. Louis’s most well-known writers: T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, and William S. Burroughs, for example, all lived in the neighborhood. Today, it is a walkable area teeming with restaurants and shops, including the independent bookstore Left Bank Books. It is also adjacent to St. Louis’s 1,300-acre Forest Park, the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (which popularized the ice cream cone and Dr. Pepper as it celebrated U.S. imperialism), and today the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum.

Chase Hotel (early 1920s), by W.C. Persons. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

As a site for jazz-age partygoing among well-heeled St. Louisans, our conference site was featured on the front page of the New York Times on January 2, 1923, when an article described a riot that ensued when federal agents sent to enforce prohibition law raided the “fashionable Hotel Chase” on New Year’s Eve. A “barrage of chairs, glassware, plates, knives and forks were hurled promiscuously,” the Times noted. “Women became hysterical” while the “rumpus was in swing” until the “officers retreated.” “One woman,” a police sergeant reported, “had me by the collar as we were leaving.”

We can’t promise that level of excitement, but we can promise an exceptional conference line-up that examines the literature and culture of the North American West from creative and challenging angles, asking critical questions about what constitutes region and role it has played in shaping culture, identity, and power.

Looking Forward to the Program: Special Events and Guests

These questions, of course, can be seen animating the work of our Distinguished Achievement Award winners in both creative writing and criticism:Percival Everett and José E. Limón.

Everett’s 2015 short story collection, Half an Inch of Water, based in Wyoming, “paints a vibrant picture of the West that layers itself subtly but assertively over the prevailing mythos of the lonely white cowboy,” according to a review in the Los Angeles Times.

Percival Everett counts among his many accolades two Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction. He is the author of around 30 books, many set in the American West. These include the parodic genre western God’s Country, as well as Suder, Walk Me to the Distance, Watershed, Wounded, Assumption, and the recent short story collection, Half an Inch of Water. No contemporary African American author has represented the black western experience in such extensive, nuanced, and complex ways. Everett is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

José E. Limón’s American Encounters requires we consider—perhaps now more urgently than ever—the following vision: “I wish to imagine the possibilities of a transformation of [the relationship between Greater Mexico and the United States], so that all children who live today along the Texas border can once again enjoy the waters of the Rio Grande—so that all of the children of Greater Mexico and the United States may play along the border and beyond, carrying their Mexico and their United States within them, . . . crossing this frontier at their pleasure, in equality, and in a peaceful and plentitudinous light of day” (José E. Limón, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture [Boston: Beacon Press, 1999], 6).

José E. Limón is the Notre Dame Foundation Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the Mody C. Boatright Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. His interdisciplinary work brings together literature, anthropology, and folklore in studies of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Greater Mexico, and American regions and nations broadly conceived. Among his books are Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas, Mexican Ballads, Chicano Poems: History and Influence in Mexican American Social Poetry, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture, and Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique. He is currently working on a book titled Neither Friends, Nor Strangers: Mexicans and Anglos in the Literary Making of Texas.

The plenaries by these Distinguished Achievement Award winners, while certainly the centerpiece of our conference, are not the only events of note.

Mural at Ponderosa Steakhouse, W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO. 2014. 6’x8′. Image courtesy of COCA—Center of Creative Arts. Photo © Michael Kilfoy.

On our opening night, we will be screening and discussing the film Whose Streets?, which documents the activism that grew from the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, Jr., in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. This will be followed by a discussion moderated by Jonathan Smith, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at Saint Louis University and a scholar of African American literature.

During the conference, we will hear from Teresa McKenna, a foundational scholar in Chicana feminist studies and Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Southern California, who will read from her memoir.

We will learn about the possibilities of public humanities collaborations from Sara L. Schwebel, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, who has collaborated with Channel Islands National Park on a digital humanities project for K-12 teaching organized around the children’s book Island of the Blue Dolphins and the indigenous woman, whose isolation due Spanish colonial policies of reducción and trade, inspired it. Professor Schwebel’s talk will lead nicely into presentations by the WLA/Charles Redd Center K-12 Teaching Award winners on Saturday.

East St. Louis poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmond will read from and speak about his work at the 2018 WLA Past-President’s lunch.

We will also engage local borders when we hear from poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmond during the Past-President’s lunch on Thursday. Dr. Redmond, along with fellow East St. Louisan Katherine Dunham and St. Louisan Maya Angelou, was an architect of the Black Arts Movement in the region. From his earliest poetry, Redmond has been a place-based poet. A poem titled “Carryover,” for example, which he read at East St. Louisan Miles Davis’s funeral, proclaims, “I have been tattooed for life: / A thought called EAST SAINT LOUIS / Is etched on each Island of my Brain.” “EAST SAINT LOUIS will rise!” It “Will rise from the muddy gutty Mississippi. / Will rise disguised as AFRICA” (in Gerald Early, “Ain’t But a Place”: An Anthology of African American Writings about St. Louis [St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1998], 481).

The ancestral Mississippian city of Cahokia is directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Monks Mound, pictured here, is the largest structure on the site and is the largest earthen mound north of Mexico. St. Louis was once nicknamed “Mound City,” but today only one mound within the city limits has escaped destruction: Sugarloaf Mound, which was purchased by the Osage Nation in 2009. The tribe hopes to preserve the mound and develop an interpretive center to teach St. Louisans about their city’s history from an indigenous perspective.

Candice Ivory, the “Queen of Avant Soul,” will perform at the 2018 WLA banquet.

And we’re delighted to be honoring the WLA’s 2018 award winners at the banquet on Friday night, where the “Queen of Avant Soul,” the fabulousCandice Ivory, will be joining us to perform. Today a St. Louisan, but with roots in Memphis, Tennessee, Ivory is immersed in the gospel, blues, jazz, and soul traditions of both places. We let her know that the WLA likes to dance!

In Closing, In Friendship, In Appreciation

If it wasn’t clear from the above, we are delighted to share this conference with you, our dear colleagues and friends, who have done so much to push our field in new and exciting directions. This is a preview of what’s in store—but there’s even more to come!

Most importantly, of course, is the tremendous compendium of critical and creative work on the North American West by you—the membership. So please do submit any remaining proposals by July 1, 2018. Thank you for all your contributions—we cannot do this conference, and we cannot do our work in western literature, in all its diversity, without you.

Best wishes,
Michael and Emily
Your 2018 WLA Co-Presidents


June 9, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Just a quick reminder and a little bit of conference news.

Reminder: we are ready to start receiving proposals (deadline June 15) for the 2018 Western Literature Association conference, to be held October 24-27, in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

Bit of news: Remember to bring your dancing shoes to the conference, because Candice Ivory will be performing at the banquet: http://candiceivory.com/biography/

Below is the how-to-submit-a-proposal-through-Conftool instructions:

To submit a proposal, go to:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2018/

Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal. Even if you’ve submitted through ConfTool before, you will need to create a new account for the 2018 conference, which you can do starting at the above URL. Once you have finished your submission, you will receive a notice from ConfTool indicating your submission success. If you don’t receive this email, check your spam folder and be sure to allow messages from ConfTool to get through to you, as some other important information (such as proposal acceptance notices) will like be sent through this system.
  2. You should submit an abstract for your paper only. For panels and roundtable, please remember that each member of the panel or roundtable must create an individual account and submission. The individual contributions on a panel are linked by the title of the panel, so for pre-formed panels, please enter the title of the panel followed by the title of the individual contribution. (Example: “Gateway Cities” / “St. Louis as Gateway West”)
  3. Shortly before the conference, the schedule will be available to download through the Conference4Me app (and will also be available online and at the conference in print form). A unique feature of the Conference4Me app is that it will allow you to download the schedule to your phone, and it will allow you to view the abstracts of papers accepted for the conference. We will send out instructions for downloading the Conference4Me app prior to the conference dates.
  4. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2018.
  5. Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award or the Grover Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those vying for the coveted Willa Pilla (awarded for most humorous), please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for those awards. Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/western-literature-association-awards/
  6. Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Michael at michael.johnson@maine.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committees for consideration.
  7. Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made (probably in early July).
  8. Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association. You’ll have a chance to renew your membership with your registration. Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/membership/

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski

Your WLA Presidents 2018


 

May 18, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Just a quick reminder that we are ready to start receiving proposals (deadline June 15) for the 2018 Western Literature Association conference, to be held October 24-27, in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

To submit a proposal, go to:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2018/

Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal. Even if you’ve submitted through ConfTool before, you will need to create a new account for the 2018 conference, which you can do starting at the above URL. Once you have finished your submission, you will receive a notice from ConfTool indicating your submission success. If you don’t receive this email, check your spam folder and be sure to allow messages from ConfTool to get through to you, as some other important information (such as proposal acceptance notices) will like be sent through this system.
  2. You should submit an abstract for your paper only. For panels and roundtable, please remember that each member of the panel or roundtable must create an individual account and submission. The individual contributions on a panel are linked by the title of the panel, so for pre-formed panels, please enter the title of the panel followed by the title of the individual contribution. (Example: “Gateway Cities” / “St. Louis as Gateway West”)
  3. Shortly before the conference, the schedule will be available to download through the Conference4Me app (and will also be available online and at the conference in print form). A unique feature of the Conference4Me app is that it will allow you to download the schedule to your phone, and it will allow you to view the abstracts of papers accepted for the conference. We will send out instructions for downloading the Conference4Me app prior to the conference dates.
  4. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2018.
  5. Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award or the Grover Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those vying for the coveted Willa Pilla (awarded for most humorous), please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for those awards. Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/western-literature-association-awards/
  6. Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Michael at michael.johnson@maine.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committees for consideration.
  7. Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made (probably in early July).
  8. Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association. You’ll have a chance to renew your membership with your registration. Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/membership/

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski

Your WLA Presidents 2018


April 16, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Greetings from St. Louis! We are looking forward to getting your paper, panel, and roundtable proposals for the 2018 Western Literature Association conference, to be held October 24-27, in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

We are ready to start receiving your proposals!

To submit a proposal, go to:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2018/

Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal. Even if you’ve submitted through ConfTool before, you will need to create a new account for the 2018 conference, which you can do starting at the above URL. Once you have finished your submission, you will receive a notice from ConfTool indicating your submission success. If you don’t receive this email, check your spam folder and be sure to allow messages from ConfTool to get through to you, as some other important information (such as proposal acceptance notices) will like be sent through this system.
  2. You should submit an abstract for your paper only. For panels and roundtable, please remember that each member of the panel or roundtable must create an individual account and submission. The individual contributions on a panel are linked by the title of the panel, so for pre-formed panels, please enter the title of the panel followed by the title of the individual contribution. (Example: “Gateway Cities” / “St. Louis as Gateway West”)
  3. Shortly before the conference, the schedule will be available to download through the Conference4Me app (and will also be available online and at the conference in print form). A unique feature of the Conference4Me app is that it will allow you to download the schedule to your phone, and it will allow you to view the abstracts of papers accepted for the conference. We will send out instructions for downloading the Conference4Me app prior to the conference dates.
  4. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2018.
  5. Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award or the Grover Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those vying for the coveted Willa Pilla (awarded for most humorous), please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for those awards. Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/western-literature-association-awards/
  6. Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Michael at michael.johnson@maine.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committees for consideration.
  7. Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made (probably in early July).
  8. Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association. You’ll have a chance to renew your membership with your registration. Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/membership/

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski

Your WLA Presidents 2018


February 15, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Greetings from the edge of the West (and the edge of the East), from the gateway city of St. Louis, Missouri, where we are busy with preparations for the Western Literature Association St. Louis 2018 Conference, to be held October 24-27 in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel. The conference theme is “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States.”

Among the conference highlights that we wanted to mention, Distinguished Achievement Award winners Percival Everett (creative writing) and José E. Limón (criticism) will be present at the conference and will be reading from their work.

Percival Everett is a two-time winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards for Fiction, a recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, and the author of around 30 books, including the parodic genre western God’s Country, as well as multiple books set in the American West, including Suder, Walk Me to the Distance, Watershed, Wounded, Assumption, and his recent short story collection, Half an Inch of Water. No other contemporary African American author has accomplished as extensive (and complex) a representation of African American western experience. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

José E. Limón is the Notre Dame Foundation Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the Mody C. Boatright Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a distinguished scholar of Mexican American literature and culture in wide-ranging and interdisciplinary work that brings together the study of literature, anthropology, and folklore in studies of literature of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Greater Mexico, and region and nation more broadly conceived. He is the author of four books, including Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas and Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique. He is currently working on a book titled Neither Friends, Nor Strangers: Mexicans and Anglos in the Literary Making of Texas.

We particularly look forward to proposals that engage the literary and critical work and legacies of our two Distinguished Achievement Award winners.

Our deadline for papers, panels, and other session ideas is June 15, 2018. Please see the original CFP and list of proposed themes we’d like to highlight below, but, as always, we welcome proposals on any aspect of the literature and culture of the North American West. 

Proposals should be submitted through the ConfTool link, which will be posted on this page once ConfTool has been set up to receive proposals.

Soon we will be posting a follow-up letter with more information on other conference activities (including possibilities for a Saturday excursion), as well as transportation and hotel information.

Stay tuned!

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski
Your WLA Presidents 2018


CALL FOR PAPERS

2018 Western Literature Association Conference

Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States

Still on Ponderosa ©Michael Kilfoy

Mural at Ponderosa Steakhouse, W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO. 2014. 6’×8′.
Image courtesy of COCA—Center of Creative Arts. Photo ©Michael Kilfoy.

The 2018 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place October 24-27 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States” is derived from this location. This region, at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, has been urban for thousands of years: Cahokia, directly across the river from today’s St. Louis, housed the largest pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico and was long a hub for trade, communication, and transportation throughout indigenous North America. Today it is well known for its impressive earthen mounds, which the Osage Nation, among other tribal groups, counts as an important ancestral site. Long before St. Louis was known as the “Gateway to the West,” it was nicknamed “Mound City.”

St. Louis would become a North American borderland, shaped by French, Spanish, and U.S. contact and conquest. With Missouri’s 1821 entry into the nation as a slave state, St. Louis became envisioned as a gateway to western freedom even while it maintained southern bondage. This position made it possible for hundreds of enslaved people, including Dred Scott, to attempt to sue for their freedom in St. Louis. During the Exoduster movement, St. Louis indeed became a gateway to freedom for many African Americans migrating away from postbellum southern oppression. An emblem of white flight and urban disinvestment in the 20th century, today St. Louis is home to newer immigrant communities and central to the Black Lives Matter movement. It continues to serve as a microcosm of U.S. racial histories and of both stubborn divisions and promising coalitions across lines of race, class, region, and nation. “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States” is meant to evoke these confluences and crosscurrents.

Both Distinguished Achievement Award Winners, Percival Everett and José E. Limón, will be attending the conference, and each will give a reading.

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures of the North American West, but especially encourage panels and papers that explore the following topics:

• St. Louis (or other western places) as Indigenous Hubs, Gateways, or Borderlands
• The African American West
• Jazz and Blues and the American West
• The Art and Literature of Black Lives Matter
• St. Louis Freedom Suits
• The Work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Percival Everett
• The Critical Legacy of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner José E. Limón

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2018. Please submit questions to Michael K. Johnson or Emily Lutenski at WLAConference2018@westernlit.org.


For more information, check back periodically.

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Western Literature Association Presidents 1966 to Present

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

 

WLA leaders who have served as presidents of the organization and have hosted the annual conference.

 
 

Alex Hunt, 2019—Estes Park, CO

Alex Hunt, 2019—Estes Park, CO

 

SueEllen Campbell, 2019—Estes Park, CO

SueEllen Campbell, 2019—Estes Park, CO

 

Emily Lutenski—2018, St. Louis, MO

Michael K. Johnson

Michael K. Johnson—2018, St. Louis, MO

Florence Amamoto—2017, Minneapolis, MN

Florence Amamoto—2017, Minneapolis, MN

Sue Maher—2017, Minneapolis, MN

 

Linda Karell, 2016— Montana State University

Linda Karell—2016, Big Sky, Montana

Susan Bernardin, 2015 Reno, Nevada

Susan Bernardin—2015, Reno, Nevada

David Fenimore, 2015 — Reno, Nevada

David Fenimore—2015, Reno, Nevada

Laurie Ricou, 2014 — Victoria, BC, Canada

Laurie Ricou—2014, Victoria, BC, Canada

Anne Kaufman—2014, Victoria, BC, Canada

Anne Kaufman—2014, Victoria, BC, Canada

Richard Hutson, 2013 — Berkeley, California

Richard Hutson—2013, Berkeley, California

 

Sara Spurgeon—2012, Lubbock, Texas

Sara Spurgeon—2012, Lubbock, Texas

Nancy Cook—2011, Missoula, Montana

Nancy Cook—2011, Missoula, Montana

Bonney MacDonald, 2011 — Missoula, Montana

Bonney MacDonald, 2011 — Missoula, Montana

Gioia Woods, 2010 — Prescott, Arizona

Gioia Woods, 2010 — Prescott, Arizona

David Cremean, 2009 — Spearfish, South Dakota

David Cremean, 2009 — Spearfish, South Dakota

Karen Ramirez, 2008 — Boulder, Colorado

Karen Ramirez, 2008 — Boulder, Colorado

Nic Witschi, 2008 — Boulder, Colorado

Nic Witschi, 2008 — Boulder, Colorado

Ann Putnam, 2007 — Tacoma, Washington

Ann Putnam, 2007 — Tacoma, Washington

Tara Penry 2006 — Boise, Idaho

William Handley, 2005 — Los Angeles, California

William Handley, 2005 — Los Angeles, California

Susan Kollin, 2004 — Big Sky, Montana

Susan Kollin, 2004 — Big Sky, Montana

Krista Comer, 2003 Houston, Texas

Krista Comer, 2003 Houston, Texas

Judy Nolte Temple, 2002 — Tucson, Arizona

Judy Nolte Temple, 2002 — Tucson, Arizona

 

Susan Naramore Maher, 2001 — Omaha, Nebraska

Susan Naramore Maher, 2001 — Omaha, Nebraska

Robert Murray Davis, 2000 — Norman, Oklahoma

Robert Murray Davis, 2000 — Norman, Oklahoma

Michael Kowalewski, 1999 — Sacramento, California

Michael Kowalewski, 1999 — Sacramento, California

Robert Thacker, 1998 — Banff, Alberta, Canada

Robert Thacker, 1998 — Banff, Alberta, Canada

Gary Scharnhorst, 1997 — Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gary Scharnhorst, 1997 — Albuquerque, New Mexico

Susanne K. George Bloomfield, 1996 — Lincoln, Nebraska

Susanne K. George Bloomfield, 1996 — Lincoln, Nebraska

Laurie Ricou, 1995 — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Laurie Ricou, 1995 — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Stephen Tatum, 1994 — Salt Lake City, Utah

Stephen Tatum, 1994 — Salt Lake City, Utah

 

Diane Quantic, 1993 — Wichita, Kansas

Diane Quantic, 1993 — Wichita, Kansas

Joseph Flora, 1992 — Reno, Nevada

Joseph Flora, 1992 — Reno, Nevada

James Work, 1991 — Estes Park, Colorado

James Work, 1991 — Estes Park, Colorado

Lawrence Clayton, 1990 — Denton, Texas

Lawrence Clayton, 1990 — Denton, Texas

Barbara Meldrum, 1989 — Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Barbara Meldrum, 1989 — Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Glen Love, 1988 — Eugene, Oregon

Glen Love, 1988 — Eugene, Oregon

Susan J. Rosowski, 1987 — Lincoln, Nebraska

Susan J. Rosowski, 1987 — Lincoln, Nebraska

Tom Pilkington[pictured in the middle, receiving award], 1986 — Durango, Colorado

Tom Pilkington[pictured in the middle, receiving award], 1986 — Durango, Colorado

Gerald Haslam, 1985 — Fort Worth, Texas

Gerald Haslam, 1985 — Fort Worth, Texas

Ann Ronald, 1984 — Reno, Nevada

Ann Ronald, 1984 — Reno, Nevada

George Day, 1983 — St. Paul, Minnesota

George Day, 1983 — St. Paul, Minnesota

Martin Bucco, 1982 — Denver, Colorado

Martin Bucco, 1982 — Denver, Colorado

James Maguire, 1981 — Boise, Idaho

James Maguire, 1981 — Boise, Idaho

Helen Stauffer, 1980 — St. Louis, Missouri

Helen Stauffer, 1980 — St. Louis, Missouri

Bernice Slote, 1980 — University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Bernice Slote, 1980 — University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Richard Etulain, 1979 — Albuquerque, New Mexico

Richard Etulain, 1979 — Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mary Washington, 1978 — Park City, Utah

Mary Washington, 1978 — Park City, Utah

Arthur Huseboe, 1977 — Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Arthur Huseboe, 1977 — Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Lawrence L. Lee, 1976 — Bellingham, Washington

Lawrence L. Lee, 1976 — Bellingham, Washington

Maynard Fox, 1975 —Durango, Colorado

Maynard Fox, 1975 —Durango, Colorado

John S. Bullen, 1974 — Sonoma, California

John S. Bullen, 1974 — Sonoma, California

Max Westbrook, 1973 — Austin, Texas

Max Westbrook, 1973 — Austin, Texas

Thomas J. Lyon, 1972 — Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Thomas J. Lyon, 1972 — Jackson Hole, Wyoming

 

John R. Milton, 1971 — Red Cloud, Nebraska

John R. Milton, 1971 — Red Cloud, Nebraska

Don D. Walker, 1970 — Sun Valley, Idaho

Don D. Walker, 1970 — Sun Valley, Idaho

Morton L. Ross, 1969 — Provo, Utah

Morton L. Ross, 1969 — Provo, Utah

Jim L. Fife, 1968 — Colorado Springs, Colorado

Jim L. Fife, 1968 — Colorado Springs, Colorado

Delbert Wylder, 1967 — Albuquerque, NM

Delbert Wylder, 1967 — Albuquerque, NM

C. L. Sonnichsen, 1966 — Salt Lake City, Utah

C. L. Sonnichsen, 1966 — Salt Lake City, Utah

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Past Presidents’ Addresses

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

PAST PRESIDENTS’ ADDRESSES

At every conference, the past president gives the Past President’s Address. Below you’ll find links to some of them:

1989—Glen Love, “Revaluing Nature: Toward an Ecological Criticism”
1992—James Work, “Who’s Afraid of the Virginian’s Wolf?”
1993—Joseph M. Flora, “An Eastern Dude Rides West—Again
1994—Diane Quantic, “Reimagining the West: A Consideration of the Discipline”
1996—Laurie Ricou, “Extra West”
1997—Susanne George Bloomfield, “Dancing with Our Skeletons: Some Reflections on Time”
1998—Gary Scharnhorst, “In Defense of Western Literary Biography”
1999—Robert Thacker, “Crossing Frontiers, Riding Point”
2001—Robert Murray Davis, “Part-Time Westerner”
2002—Susan Naramore Maher, “When East Meets West: A Tale of Sundry Adventures”
2003—Judy Nolte Temple, “Why in the World Study Diaries: Tales from the Road Less Traveled”
2006—William R. Handley, “An Anatomy of Feeling Western; or, The Good News about Estrangement”
2008—Ann Putnam, “Memory, Desire, and What’s ‘True at First Light’”
2009—Karen Ramirez and Nicolas Witschi, “Western Collaborations X: The Generative Power of Working Together”
2010—David Cremean, “Livin’ in These Badlands: Don’t Fence Me In—or Out”
2011—Gioia Woods, “Reinvent America and the World”
2013—Sara Spurgeon, “Incidentally Western”
2014—Richard Hutson, “Tom Sawyer and the Struggle for Recognition”
2015—17 Past Presidents recounted the WLA’s journey of where it has been and where it is going (no transcript available)
2016—Sacred and Profane West: A Conversation with Stephen Graham Jones, moderated by Susan Bernardin and David Fenimore (no transcript available)
2017—Learning from Legacies: A Conversation with Linda Karell and Kao Kalia Yang (no transcript available)
2018—A Conversation: Florence Amamoto and Eugene B. Redmond (no transcript available)

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PAST CONFERENCE PROGRAMS

Friday, January 1st, 2010

PAST CONFERENCE PROGRAMS

Below you’ll find conference programs from previous years. The earlier copies do not include last-minute changes.

WLA Conference Program 1999 (Sacramento)

Conference Program 2004 (Big Sky, Montana)
Conference Program 2005 (Los Angeles, California) [Word file]
Conference Program 2006 (Boise, Idaho)
Conference Program 2007 (Tacoma, Washington) [Word fiile]
Conference Program 2008 (Boulder, Colorado)
Conference Program 2009 (Spearfish, South Dakota)
Conference Program 2010 (Prescott, Arizona)
Conference Program 2011 (Missoula, Montana)
Conference Program 2012 (Lubbock, Texas)
Conference Program 2013 (Berkeley, California)
Conference Program 2014 (Victoria, British Columbia)
Conference Program 2015 (Reno, Nevada)
Conference Program 2016 (Big Sky, Montana)—final copy, including corrections
Conference Program 2017 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)—final copy, including corrections
Conference Program 2018 (St. Louis, Missouri)—final copy, including corrections

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WLA Conference 2019

Friday, June 18th, 2010


54th WLA Conference

Estes Park, Colorado
Sept. 18-21, 2019

THEME: Not Cloudy All Day: Climates of Change in the American West


Alex HuntThe 2019 Conference will be co-hosted by Professors  Alex Hunt (West Texas A&M) and SueEllen Campbell (Colorado State University). 

SueEllen Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 


The PROGRAM is ready! See our terrific lineup!


If you want to return to you conference profile, here is the link https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2019/


Are you ready for these super low registration fees?

By August 2:

Regular $115                        Grad Student $75

After August 2:

Regular $165                        Grad Student $125

Amazingly, IF you are staying at the YMCA, this fee INCLUDES the banquet. If you are not staying at the YMCA, the banquet will cost an additional $25.


The 2019 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place September 18-21 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. 

Our location in the high Colorado mountains at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is a majestic landscape claimed by Arapaho and Ute tribes, US expansionists, British nobility, millions of visitors (nearly 4.6 million in 2018), and the federal government, notably the National Park Service. It is a fitting place to think about changes sweeping the West, especially the material and cultural effects of climate change (and the often unrecognized importance of weather and climate) and changing attitudes and policies concerning public lands.

Our Distinguished Achievement Award winner is Leslie Marmon Silko. We will feature a number of excellent writers/speakers, including Kathleen Dean Moore (Oregon), Dan Flores (New Mexico), and Coloradans Aaron Abeyta, Paolo Bacigalupi, Laura Pritchett, and Scott Denning.

Please see below for session/proposal descriptions, travel and lodging information, and short speaker biographies.

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Proposals

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures (broadly conceived) of the North American West. We especially encourage panels, papers, and “conversations” (see below for details) that explore the following topics as they apply to these literatures:

• The likely effects of a changing climate (and weather) on the lands, peoples, and cultures of the American West

• Defeat, resilience, denial, unrealistic and realistic hope, and other emotional literary and cultural responses to changes in climate (e.g., in Dust Bowl literatures)—or to other basic shifts in material realities

• Public lands, especially those maintained by the National Park System

• Environmental history and its relations to literature and other cultural expressions

• The varying abilities of different genres to deal with such topics: YA fiction, speculative vs realistic fiction, experimental eco-poetics/poetry vs traditional poetic forms, film, social media, visual arts, feature journalism, personal nonfiction literature, and so on

• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Leslie Marmon Silko

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the earlier-than-usual conference date, the deadline for submissions (via ConfTool) is May 20, 2019. Please submit questions to Alex Hunt or SueEllen Campbell at wlaconference2019@westernlit.org.
Check back for updates!

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Kinds of Sessions

In an effort to streamline the program and push for greater emphasis on discussion, we are offering a non-traditional slate of presentation options. We hope that you will experiment, in the spirit of the conference, with a different style of panel that will encourage real conversation to take place.

Rest assured that even in the “Conversation” format, you will have a title printed in the program.

In all formats, if you have any AV requests, you must check the box on the submission form. We will not be able to accommodate any requests after a submission has already been made. Since AV is one of our highest costs, we will add a $5 surcharge to your registration. We cannot provide computers.

As we organize panels from individual submissions and then schedule all panels, we will rely on the keywords you choose for your work, so please take care with them. If, for instance, you are presenting on Steinbeck, then you may also put “Dust Bowl” or “Grapes of Wrath” in as a keyword. If you are submitting an abstract for creative work, please explain how that work fits into the context of the conference (for instance, it is set in the American West and deals with the emotional impact of climate change).

In every format, you will each need to have your own, individual user account, your own submission, and your own titleIf you are part of a pre-formed group, you will find a space to enter both the group’s title and your own. Please do so this way: PAPER TITLE [all caps] / Panel Title [with title capitalization]. That way we will know which panel you are on.

CONVERSATION (pre-formed or individual): 3 leaders (with names and titles on the program) who will moderate a focused discussion with session attendees on any topic that would be good for conversation, as opposed to presentations. This option is for those of you who most value the conversations you have at conferences and really just want to exchange ideas and reactions with each other on topics of shared interest. We will do our best to match individual proposals in ways that seem productive; if we have trouble, we will contact you about options.

For your (100-word) abstract, please say what you want to talk about and why. Include some of the (significant, open-ended, focused) questions you intend to pose to the other people in the conversation.

PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL PANEL (pre-formed or individual): 3 presenters each with a 20-minute maximum for a talk designed particularly for an audience drawn from the general public. This option is for those of you who want to take your knowledge beyond academia. Depending on scheduling, we may indeed be able to invite the public, as we are collaborating on some featured speakers with the Estes Park Library. (Check back on this.) You might think of this as a good chance to practice speaking to interested listeners who won’t know any of our field’s professional/academic/theoretical language or assumptions but do know a lot about something else. Imagine, say, a group of readers at a public library event, or a church reading group, or a multidisciplinary conference whose other attendees are scientists, anthropologists, computer programmers, etc.

For your (250-word) abstract, you might add to your topic description something about the kind of circumstance/audience you envision and say why you think your topic is of broad public interest.

QUICK-PAPER PANEL (pre-formed or individual): 5 presenters each with a 10-minute maximum presentation time. This option is for those who prefer to hear more voices per session. You should plan to get straight to your point—your argument, the question you want to open, your corrections to the mistakes of those who have come before you, your conviction that everybody else has been ignoring or missing something critical . . . A good place to try out a new idea and see what happens. Standard 250-word abstract.

TRADITIONAL PANEL (pre-formed or individual): 4 presenters each with a 15-minute maximum presentation time. This option is for the traditionalists among us. Perhaps not as long as you would like, but the longest available at this meeting, and the best kind of session for those who use conference papers to get good starts on articles or chapters. Standard 250-word abstract.

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AV

You may not know it, but AV costs have become a major expense for conference organizers and scholarly associations. The WLA exec has discussed many options, but we don’t have a good solution at this point. For 2019, the co-presidents are going to add a $5 AV fee. This will help cover AV costs  slightly, but really the main goal is to encourage you to consider with some care whether you really need AV—without seriously discouraging it for those who need it or penalizing scholars for their diverse media studies. In addition, we are asking people to be specific about their needs—data projector only, data projector with sound, etc. This will help us plan to purchase different “gear” for different meeting rooms, thus economizing. We appreciate your tolerance of this latest attempt that we—as an association—are taking to deal with AV cost issues.

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Lodging: Why You Should Stay at the YMCA

You really should!

There are two reasons. One is that the WLA will lose $50 for every room in our contracted block that we do not use, or that someone reserves but then cancels. (This is why we are charging $50 more for late registrations.)

The second is more alluring. This is a very nice place to stay, with great views, a lot of nearby open space, comfortable rooms, and many nice common spaces—which is to say, it is an excellent place for camaraderie. (Lodging will be in the same building where all our breakout sessions will occur.) There is often, we hear, a herd of elk right in the middle of the campus, where we will be, and our days are at peak of their rut, which means we will hear the amazing sound of bull elk bugling.

It is also actually a good deal, given that the price includes three meals a day (including vegetarian options). Estes Park is an expensive destination, and our weekend is one of the most crowded of the year, making other options scarcer and pricier than one might think.

Do not plan to walk into town from the Y. It is too far and will take too long. But more to the point, the road is narrow, windy, has no shoulders, and can be pretty busy. The town’s bus system will have stopped for the year, and there are extremely limited options for taxis or other ride-hires. Similarly, the national park’s campgrounds are too far away for walking and will likely be full at least some of the nights we are there. Even if you have a car, you will find that restaurants in town are quite crowded and slow at meal times.

There are two room options at the Y other than the lodge rooms we have reserved. For a little bit less, you can stay in a more basic room with one queen and two bunk beds. Or you can rent a more expensive cabin. (In a cabin, you will likely have a choice of including meals or cooking for yourself. If you want to buy individual meals in the shared cafeteria, you can.) In either case, we can count your room towards our contracted minimum. (This should be much easier for us to calculate if you tell the Y you are coming for this conference when you book.)

All rates-per-night below include three buffet meals per day, beginning with dinner on the day of arrival and ending with lunch on the day of departure (the banquet will cost extra). Each hotel room includes two queen beds, private bathroom, and free wi-fi. Remember when booking to notify the Y of your affiliation with WLA—this will secure the proper discounted rate, and give WLA essential credit toward filling its required room block:

Single                   $168.00 per person
Double                 $103.50 per person
Triple                   $82.50 per person
Quadruple           $71.25 per person

Tax of 5.55% a night will be added. You may extend the group rate three days before and three days after our conference dates, on a space available basis.

Beyond the standard hotel room, the YMCA of the Rockies offers CABINS and less expensive DORM-style rooms. Please contact the YMCA directly for rate information for these accommodations. Again, it is essential for the WLA that you indicate your affiliation with the conference when you make your booking. Cabins book quickly, so consider booking ahead if you want one!

ADA rooms: We have reserved a number of lodge rooms with varied accessibility accommodations, and if you want one of those rooms, you need to be as specific as possible when you talk to the reservations people.

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Getting Here

The Estes Park YMCA is 1.5-2 hours northwest of DIA, Denver International Airport. The Estes Park Shuttle can transport you. (We will try to negotiate a group rate: check back on this.) Here’s the link: https://www.estesparkshuttle.com/DIA-airport-shuttle. $85 round trip, $45 one way.

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Elevation

The YMCA of the Rockies is 8,000 feet above sea level, an elevation most of you will notice. Plan to stay especially well hydrated and expect to get out of breath more easily than usual. You may even have a little trouble sleeping the first night.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

The YMCA adjoins the park, and you will be able to hike directly into it if you wish. If you can get yourself to the far (east) side of Estes Park, there are free NPS shuttle busses that will take you to key hiking destinations. Or if you share a car, you can also share the $20/day entrance fee. 

We had hoped to arrange a field trip into the park for Saturday afternoon, but doing so turns out to be difficult and expensive. So this area of planning is still fluid. We are currently planning to help you design and accomplish your own expedition, with the aid of a tour book we will create just for you. We plan to offer a guided hike into the park from the YMCA, and we will certainly help you find people to share rides with. Check back for more.

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Liquor & Cannabis

The family-oriented YMCA enforces tight restrictions on alcohol, including absolutely no drinking in public spaces such as lobbies, hallways, and porches—and we will honor their rules. They also do not allow cash bars. For informal gatherings on Wednesday and Thursday nights after the plenary talks, and for the awards banquet and dance, however, we have arranged that you may purchase drinks tickets (for decent box wine, red or white, and for local beer) for $5 each when you register and pay online in advance. We will have additional tickets at the on-site registration desk for $6. We will NOT be able to sell liquor tickets at the events where there is liquor available, so you will need to plan ahead. You may, if you wish, bring your own wine or champagne—but not hard liquor—to  the banquet.

The Y also has a strict rule against cannabis, which is still illegal to consume or smoke in public spaces in Estes Park and to possess anywhere in the national park or national forest. https://www.visitestespark.com/marijuana/

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Field Trips

Due to our proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park (and the great difficulty of booking a reasonably priced tour), we will not be scheduling field trips this year. We will do our best to offer useful hiking, walking, and driving suggestions, though. And we will try to help arrange ride-sharing.

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Featured Speakers

Aaron Abeyta

Aaron Abeyta is a professor of English at Adams State University (Alamosa, Colorado), and the Mayor of Antonito, Colorado, his hometown. He is the author of four collections of poetry and one novel; his poetry book colchawon an American Book Award and the Colorado Book Award, and his novel Rise, Do Not be Afraid, was a finalist for the 2007 Colorado Book Award and El Premio Aztlan. His poems and prose—which are deeply grounded in his place, family, and culture—have appeared in many places, including a good number of anthologies and High Country News. As a recent Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope and recipient of a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship and a Governor’s Creative Leadership Award, he has played a significant role in keeping literature vital in some of Colorado’s underserved regions.


Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi is on virtually every list of fiction writers who focus on climate change. His imagined future climate dystopias include The Water Knife (set in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where water has grown disastrously scarce, life is ugly, and violence rules)and The Windup Girl (set in Bangkok), both for adults, and a trio of Ship Breaker novels for young adults; his awards for these and other books are too many to list. His short pieces of fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Wired, Slate, Medium, Salon, and High Country News. Another Colorado native, he lives in Paonia, Colorado. 


Dan Flores (photo by Sara Dant).Dan Flores, who now lives in the Galisteo Valley outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, is A. B. Hammond Professor Emeritus of the History of the American West at the University of Montana-Missoula. He is the author of ten books, most recently the New York Times Bestseller Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History (2016), and American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains (2016). His essays on the environment, art, and culture of the West have appeared in newspapers like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and in magazines such as Texas Monthly, Orion, Southwest Art, and High Country News. His work has been honored by the Western Writers of America; the Denver Public Library; the Western Heritage Center/National Cowboy Museum; the High Plains, Montana, and Oklahoma Book Awards; and by the Western History Association, Montana Historical Society, and Texas State Historical Association.


Kathleen Moore

Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosopher, activist, and writer whose latest essay collection is Great Tide Rising: Finding Clarity and Moral Courage to Confront Climate Change. Her books include the award-winning essay collections Riverwalking, Holdfast, Pine Island Paradox, and Wild Comfort and the novel Piano Tide (set in Alaska). She co-edited the massive and powerful collection of testimonies by many of the world’s moral leaders, Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, and her essays have appeared in High Country News, OrionDiscover, Audubon, Utne Reader, Earth Island JournalNew York Times MagazineConservation Biology, and elsewhere. She has won an  Oregon Book Award (she lives in Corvallis and summers in Alaska), a Choice magazine Outstanding Book Award, and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. She co-founded and was first director of the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word, an innovative project that brings together scientists, musicians, painters, writers, and philosophers; and she has addressed audiences ranging from 350.org activists to Nobel Conference scholars to Disney World executives and students all over the country.


Laura PritchettLaura Pritchett’s short story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado, won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and her novels Sky Bridge, Stars Go Blue, Red Lightning, and The Blue Hour have won numerous literary awards, including the High Plains Book Award. She also writes nonfiction (most recently Great Colorado Bear Stories) and has edited several environmental anthologies. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun, Orion, High Desert Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, The Normal School, Writers on the Range, and elsewhere. She, too, was born, raised, and still lives in Colorado, near Fort Collins.

 


Brian Calvert and Scott Denning will join forces for a plenary session about climate change in the American West, about their public-facing climate change work, and about how that public work overlaps or is in tension with other aspects of their professional and personal lives.

Brian Calvert

Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief of High Country News, is a Wyoming native who grew up in Pinedale and holds a M.F.A from Western Colorado University and a B.A. in English from the University of Northern Colorado. He has worked as a foreign correspondent, writer, and audio journalist and has been a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. His essay about visiting Paul Kingsnorth’s Dark Mountain Project appeared in HCN in 2017: “So What if We’re Doomed? Climate Chaos, Mass Extinction, The Collapse of Civilization: A Guide to Facing the Ecocide.”
https://www.hcn.org/issues/49.12/essay-climate-change-confronting-despair-in-the-age-of-ecocide

Scott Denning

Scott Denning is Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, where he has spent half his life studying the breathing of the Earth and the role of life in the climate system. Since 2006, he has led a program to engage schoolchildren, teachers, undergraduates, graduate students, and the public on the scientific and cultural imperatives of climate change, and he speaks about twice a month to churches, farmers, schools, Rotarians, Knights of Columbus, reporters, and professional skeptics. A passionate science communicator who speaks with personal authenticity as well as academic authority, he has chosen to take an optimistic stance on our ability to deal with climate change.


 

We will have a demi-plenary session on the subject of Deconstructed and Reconstructed Indigenous Identities and Families with these speakers::

Susan Devan Harness, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was born on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation and became a transracial adoptee at the age of two. Her new memoir Bitteroot: A Memoir of Transracial Adoption explores the uneasy intersection of race, history, and the brutal government American Indian policies that affect the lives of families. She is also the author of Mixing Cultural Identities through Transracial Adoption: After the Indian Adoption Project (1958-1967).  

Margaret D. Jacobs, Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has for two decades studied Indigenous child removal. Her work on government policies from 1880-1940 led to her award-winning book White Mother to a Dark Race. More recently, she has looked at how authorities in the U.S., Australia, and Canada continued to remove Indigenous children after World War II through foster care and adoptive placements in non-Indigenous families—and how Indigenous women mobilized transnationally to reclaim the care of their children. With support from a Carnegie Fellowship, she is currently focusing on how to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones, Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado, is the author of too many award-winning novels and short stories to count, including Mongrels, Mapping the Interior, and Ledfeather. (Those awards include being listed as one of Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels of the Year.) He grew up in West Texas; often visited the Blackfeet reservation in Montana with his father, a member of that nation; and experiments with horror, sci-fi, fantasy, slashers, werewolf stories, and other pop culture forms. He also is interested in how Native Americans and their families and communities might operate in such genres.

 

Rick Waters is Co-Executive Director of the Denver Indian Center and Lead Relationship Guidance Specialist. A member of the Kiowa and Cherokee tribes, he has worked as the Sr. Director with the American Indian College Fund, Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and American Indian Home-School Liaison with the Dallas Independent School District. The Denver Indian Center is “an urban cultural gathering center for the American Indian/Alaska Native community of the Denver Metro area.”



 


Not Cloudy All Day: Climates of Change in the American West

The 2019 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place September 18-21 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. 

Our location in the high Colorado mountains at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is a majestic landscape claimed by Arapaho and Ute tribes, US expansionists, British nobility, millions of visitors (44.4 million in 2017), and the federal government, notably the National Park Service. It is a fitting place to think about changes sweeping the West, especially the material and cultural effects of climate change (and the often unrecognized importance of weather and climate) and changing attitudes and policies concerning public lands.

Our Distinguished Achievement Award winner is Leslie Marmon Silko. We will be joined by a number of excellent Colorado authors and activists.

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures (broadly conceived) of the North American West. We especially encourage panels, papers, and “structured conversations”* that explore the following topics as they apply to these literatures:

• The likely effects of a changing climate (and weather) on the lands, peoples, and cultures of the American West

• Defeat, resilience, denial, unrealistic and realistic hope, and other emotional literary and cultural responses to changes in climate (e.g., in Dust Bowl literatures)—or to other basic shifts in material realities

• Public lands, especially those maintained by the National Park System

• Environmental history and its relations to literature and other cultural expressions

• The varying abilities of different genres to deal with such topics: YA fiction, speculative vs realistic fiction, experimental eco-poetics/poetry vs traditional poetic forms, film, social media, visual arts, feature journalism, personal nonfiction literature, and so on

• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Leslie Marmon Silko

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation. *For the experimental “structured conversations,” which we envision as collaborative discussions driven by one-page “prompts” by 3-4 participants on a focused topic directly related to the conference theme, please submit a short description of your topic and the primary questions/ideas to be posed/proposed by your leading participants.

Please note: Due to the earlier-than-usual conference date, the deadline for submissions is May 20, 2019. Please submit questions to Alex Hunt or SueEllen Campbell at wlaconference2019@westernlit.org.

Check back for updates!


 

 

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WLA Conference 2011 Registration

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

46th Annual Western Literature Association Conference
Oct. 5-Oct. 8, 2011
Missoula, MT

ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM

First Name:
Last Name:
Title:
Affiliation:
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City:
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2011 CONFERENCE REGISTRATION FEES

(Please note: You must be a member of the WLA at THE TIME OF THE CONFERENCE
to present a paper at the conference. See information on WLA Annual Membership Dues below.)

WLA member

$120
Retired member

$100
Student member

$100
Non-member, not presenting

$110
Guest of member, not presenting *

$50
Whose guest are you?
Name of WLA member if registering as “guest of member”:


Registration

* Guest rate is for non-presenting spouses or partners who accompany a registered WLA member, retired member, or student member and wish to attend conference sessions, receptions, and/or meals. Partners who do not plan to attend sessions, receptions, or meals need not register. Two non-members traveling together must each pay the full non-member rate. Two presenters traveling together must each pay the appropriate member rate. Registered partners will receive a name badge and other registration materials. Please use a separate form for each individual.

2011 WLA MEMBERSHIP DUES
(includes subscription to Western American Literature)

Presenters and session chairs must be WLA members AT THE TIME OF THE CONFERENCE. If you have questions regarding your membership status, please contact the WAL office.

CATEGORY MAILING ADDRESSES IN THE US ADDRESSES IN CANADA + MEXICO ALL OTHER DESTINATIONS
Regular member $35.00 $50.00 $60.00
Student/Retired $30.00 $45.00 $55.00
Couples $40.00 $55.00 $65.00
Sponsor $75.00 $75.00 $75.00
Patron $100.00 $100.00 $100.00
None. My membership is current through 10/2011. $0
Membership

MEALS

Thur, Oct 6, 12:15–2:00 pm: Past Presidents’ Address Luncheon
(Everyone invited!)
$25
Choose one:
Meat
Vegetarian
Fri, Oct 7, 7:00-8:00 am: Past Presidents’ Breakfast
(Past Presidents only!)
$15
Fri, Oct 7, 12:15–2:00 pm: Graduate Students’ Luncheon
$15
Fri, Oct 7, 6:30 pm: Banquet (includes awards ceremony and the traditional WLA dance)
$45
Choose one: (a) braised short ribs
(b) balsamic chicken
(c) Northwestern rainbow trout
(d) seasonal vegetarian entrée
Meals

OWENS AWARD CONTRIBUTION

Please consider supporting the Louis Owens Awards, WLA’s competitive travel scholarships for graduate students who contribute to the diversity of the WLA conference.

See the award description for more information.

I would like to donate the following amount:

Donate $10

Donate $20

Clear Amount
Owens Contribution

SATURDAY ACTIVITIES

Missoula has numerous hiking and biking trails available for you to enjoy from our beautiful downtown location within a half-block of the Clark Fork River. Maps and a local “What to do in Missoula” Guide will be issued to you at the registration desk. You can contact the following providers below for horseback riding and fishing trip outings:

For horseback riding, please contact Suzanne at www.dunrovinranchmontana.com.
For guided fishing trips and fly-casting lessons, contact Russell via email. (Missoulian Angler will offer $100 off a fully guided trip if you mention the WLA Conference.)

For planning purposes, please indicate your preference for the following:

Horseback Riding
Guided Fishing Trip
Fly-Casting Group Lesson
Rattlesnake Wilderness Hike (gentle)
Rattlesnake Wilderness Hike (strenuous)

PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY

A fundraising cocktail party at Nancy Cook’s home, including drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Transportation will be arranged. Money will go to WLA endowments. If you’d like to participate, please donate a minimum of $55.00. If you are contributing to the Presidential Library, please add the amount you would like to donate, then hit “update total”.

I would like to donate the following amount:
GRAND TOTAL

If you are unable to attend the conference once you have registered, please send an e-mail to nancy.cook@mso.umt.edu.

All cancellations are subject to a processing fee of 20% of your total, if the cancellation is received before September 20. After that date, no refunds can be issued.


Posted in conferences | Comments Off on WLA Conference 2011 Registration

  • Western Literature Association (WLA)

    Founded in 1965, the Western Literature Association (WLA) is a non-profit, scholarly association that promotes the study of the diverse literature and cultures of the North American West, past and present.

  • Western American Literature (WAL)

    (The Journal)

    Published by the Western Literature Association, Western American Literature is the leading journal in western American literary studies.