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 Grover Awards

Friday, June 12th, 2015

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, 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 Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. Now in its second year, the Dorys Grover Award, in the amount of $200 each, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s 50th 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 (June 15). 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 Grover Award to WLAConference2015@westernlit.org. The deadline for the completed paper is August 15.

You may submit the same paper for the Taylor Award, if you wish.

Note: The award can only be received once.

 

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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 Manfred Prize, and graduate student participants have been successful in winning that in the past (see Manfred Award). To be eligible for the Taylor award, please submit a conference paper proposal by June 15 and a complete paper of no more than 15 pages (if your proposal is accepted) by August 15, to WLAconference2015@westernlit.org, asking to be considered for the award. Note: The award can only be received once.


Former Taylor Recipients

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

2014: Aubrey Streit Krug, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
2013: Heather Dundas, University of Southern California
2012: Sylvan Goldberg, Stanford University
2011: Christopher Muniz, University of Southern California
2010: Alex Young, University of Southern California
2009: Joshuah O’Brien, West Texas A&M
2008: Matthew J. Lavin, University of Iowa
2007: Patrick Gleason, University of California, San Diego
2006: Angela Waldie, University of Calgary
2005: John Gamber, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
2004: Ianina Arnold, University of Idaho
2003: Matt Burkhart, University of Arizona
2002: Laurie Clements Lambeth, University of Houston
2001: Virginia Kennedy, Montclair State University
2000: Jenny Emery Davidson, University of Utah
1999: Jenny Emery Davidson
1998: Anne L. Kaufman
1997: Jonathan Pitts, SUNY-Buffalo
1996: Wes Mantooth
1995: Phil Coleman-Hull
1994: David Mazel
1993: Evelyn I. Funda, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln
1989: Nat Lewis
1988: Nancy Cook, SUNY-Buffalo
1987: Cheryll Burgess Glotfelty, Cornell University
1986: Linda A. Hughson-Ross
1984: Anne K. Phillips


The Dorys 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, 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 Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. Now in its second year, the Dorys Grover Award, in the amount of $200 each, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s 50th 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 (usually in mid-June). 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 Grover Award to WLAConference2015@westernlit.org. The deadline for the completed paper is August 15.

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. (So if you have already received the Taylor, you cannot submit to the Taylor Award again.)


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.

The Owens Award consists of a cash award valued at up to $700. (The exact amount depends on donations and on the number of awards given.) To apply, please submit the following materials by Sept. 1 to Prof. Priscilla Ybarra:

1. A completed application form.
2. A copy of your WLA conference proposal.
3. A writing sample of 8-10 pages, double-spaced. This does not have to be on the same topic as the conference proposal but should reflect your work in the field of western American literary and cultural studies.

Download the Louis Owens Award Application 2015. Note: The award can only be received once. For information on writing an abstract, see conference abstracts. All other questions in regards to the Owens Award/s should be directed to Prof. Priscilla Ybarra.

If you’d like to download a flier with this information, click here. Please forward the information to any graduate student who may be eligible to apply.


Meet our Owens Recipient from 2013: Renata Goncalves Gomes

RenataGomes

To attend the WLA Conference in 2013 for the first time was a unique experience in my academic career. I received the Louis Owens Award for Graduate Student Presenters Contributing the Most Cultural Diversity in the WLA, which afforded me the opportunity to get to know the organizers of the conference and to spend additional time in the Bay Area afterwards. I just felt at home when I arrived at the Berkeley Marina. I had rarely encountered such a friendly environment at a literature conference. As I had been hoping to study abroad for a year, I approached Prof. Richard Hutson, WLA President at the time, with my project. He kindly accepted to be my sponsor for a year as an international visiting researcher in the English Department at UC Berkeley. Furthermore, it was an enriching moment for me to present a paper that would be part of my doctoral dissertation in front of so many well-known researchers in my area of interest. I also vividly remember when I attended the round-table titled “West Coast/Left Coast: The Legacy of Berkeley Fifty Years after the Free Speech Movement,” chaired by Prof. Hutson. Annette Kolodny read an amazing paper about her experience in the Free Speech Movement. For the first time in all those years that I had been studying counterculture, I felt a real connection that I couldn’t express in words at that moment. But I told Prof. Kolodny later by email; I just couldn’t keep that joy to myself. Ultimately, the WLA Conference is an incredible experience for those graduate students who are willing to make progress with their theses and dissertations and their careers in Literature and Culture. It is a chance to get to know some very kind and important faculty as well as fellow students in your area of study. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon in Victoria!

—Renata Goncalves Gomes Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina University of California, Berkeley


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,  Jaquelin Pelzer and Sylvan Goldberg.


Additional Professionalization Information

For additional advice on a variety of professionalization issues, check out In Medias Res, no. 2. Unfortunately, this online newsletter for graduate students, edited by WLA member Evelyn Funda, Associate Professor of English at Utah State University, has been discontinued. (If the link is no longer available, please shoot me an email to let me know.) The newsletter is written by and for graduate students about their concerns regarding their professional lives.

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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 2017

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

52nd WLA Conference

2017

WLA Co-Presidents for 2017 will be Professors Susan Maher, University of Minnesota Duluth,
and Florence Amamoto, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN.

 

Sue Maher

FlorenceAmamoto

 

The conference will be held in Minneapolis, MN.

*************

 More information to come as it becomes available.

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WLA Conference 2015

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The WLA Conference 2015 will be hosted by David Fenimore, University of Nevada, Reno, and Susan Bernardin, SUNY Oneonta

October 14-17, 2015

David Fenimore Susan Bernardin

 


The 50th annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place October 14-17 at Harrah’s Reno. We will be meeting 35 miles from beautiful North Lake Tahoe, on the west-northwestern edge of the Great Basin, at the intersection of Washoe and Paiute homelands, where the transcontinental emigrant trail and railroad line meet the mighty Sierra Nevada. Harrah’s has contracted with us for the lowest room rates in recent WAL history ($99 Fri-Sat; $59 Sun-Thurs) and is located dead center (literally, on Center Street) in Old Reno, walking distance from the Truckee River and many cultural and recreational attractions. October is off-season in these parts and promises discounted transport & lodging rates as well as uncrowded roads, trails, and waterways. Yet we are almost guaranteed sunny warm days and cool, clear, probably frosty nights in which to contemplate and interact with the region’s incredible natural beauty, thriving tribal cultures, preserved traces of historic settlements and extractive industries,  and all-year outdoor recreation. All this is conveniently juxtaposed, for our purposes, with casino-hotels, golf courses, ski resorts, trophy homes, gated communities, workforce housing, T-shirt shops, and sprawling WUI (wildland-urban interface) development. The bears at this time will be preparing for their long winter’s naps and are a common autumn sight in my neighborhood. Preliminary discussions among members of our steering committee anticipate, among other possibilities, panels and plenary events focusing on tourism, mountaineering and river-running literature, the New Western suburbs, mining and emigration narratives, visual culture, and environmental politics, art & photography. We have agreements from Willy Vlautin (UNR alumnus and author of the novels Motel Life, Northline, and most recently Lean on Pete) for a reading and perhaps a performance with his Portland-based band Richmond Fontaine and from LA-based Native performer and comics artist Arigon Starr . We are discussing a retrospective on the late Basque-American writer Robert Laxalt (Sweet Promised Land, The Basque Hotel).

Negotiations continue with these and other exciting and provocative scholars and artists. We will confer two Distinguished Achievement Awards: to LeAnne Howe and to Robert Laxalt. The WLA Legacy Project and Conversations on Critical Genealogies and Keywords reflect on our organization’s half-century of scholarship, while plenaries, roundtables, and panels on visual culture and performative arts; on gender, the environment, and diverse western spaces; on Native, Basque, and Latino Studies direct us to the continuing growth of our field as we look towards the next 50 years. Some plenaries and other sessions will take place in partnership with, and/or on the premises of, the University of Nevada, Reno; Nevada Humanities, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Nevada Museum of Art.

In addition, we anticipate with mingled trepidation and delight the prospect of our 2015 Readers Theater production: Judy Temple’s all-you-can-eat Donner Party dinner theater, a tongue-in-cheek show you can really sink your teeth into.

More details as they trickle forth,

David and Susan


 

Call for papers

50th Annual Conference of the

Western Literature Association

“Visual Culture of the Urban West”

Reno, Nevada: October 14-17, 2015 

David Fenimore (University of Nevada, Reno) and Susan Bernardin (SUNY Oneonta) invite you to Reno, October 14-17, 2015 to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our conference will look back on fifty years of intergenerational scholarship, mentoring, and community-building with the Legacy Roundtable. We will consider formative movements and moments in Western American literary studies with special sessions on “Keywords” and “Critical Genealogies.” At the same time, we look forward to the next 50 years as we recognize innovations in 21st-century literary, visual, cinematic, and performative arts. To highlight our consideration of old and new Wests, of local and the global Wests, our annual Distinguished Achievement Awards honor LeAnne Howe, Choctaw novelist, scholar, and playwright, and the late Robert Laxalt, Nevada journalist and foundational writer of Basque-American experience. Featured speakers and performers include Howe, Arigon Starr (Kickapoo singer/musician/artist), and novelist and musician Willy Vlautin.

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

Reno is easily reached by direct flights from many major hubs, soon to include New York City and London! Amtrak’s California Zephyr stops daily at the depot a few steps from Harrah’s Reno, our conference hotel, where room rates will run $99/night Friday and Saturday, and $59 other nights, with many complimentary amenities including wifi and Starbucks coupons. See https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-reno/hotel for more information. If you would like to make your reservation, there are two ways to do so: (1) call the hotel’s central reservations at (888) 726-6311 and provide the group code: S10WLA5 to make the reservation over the phone. There is a fee associated with that process. (2) The easiest (and free!) way to make a reservation is to use this reservation link: http://www.totalrewards.com/hotel-reservations?propCode=REN&groupCode=S10WLA5. Either way, the first night’s room and tax deposit will be required.

Stay tuned for important updates via our Western Literature Association Facebook page and twitter at  #WesternAmerica1 and #westernlit2015

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-2015You 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.

•••••
Download the pdf version of this call for papers here.


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.

NOTE: If you have a photograph of a past president who is not pictured below, or if you are a past president and you’re not happy with your photo below, please send photos to Sabine Barcatta, Western Literature Association, PO Box 6815, Logan UT 84341. Digital photographs preferred, but printed photos acceptable. (They will be returned after scanning.)

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

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 (courtesy University of Nebraska, Lincoln Archives)

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 (photo to come)

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 (photo to come)

Morton L. Ross, 1969 — Provo, Utah

Morton L. Ross, 1969 — Provo, Utah

Jim L. Fife, 1968 — Colorado Springs, Colorado (photo to come)

Delbert E. Wylder, 1967 — Albuquerque, New Mexico

Delbert E. Wylder, 1967 — Albuquerque, New Mexico

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”

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PAST CONFERENCE PROGRAMS

Friday, January 1st, 2010

PAST CONFERENCE PROGRAMS

Below you’ll find conference programs from previous years. These are not the absolutely final copies, but they’re as close to final as they were posted at the time. So if you are looking for somebody who was on your panel or a particular paper you heard, this might be helpful. If you have any questions, though, try contacting the person who gave the paper, chaired the panel, etc. The webmaster in this case is not likely to be able to help. In other words, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK and keep any problems with these programs to yourself.

Conference Program 1999 (Sacramento)

Conference Program 2004 (Big Sky)
Conference Program 2005 (Los Angeles) [Word file]
Conference Program 2006 (Boise)
Conference Program 2007 (Tacoma) [Word fiile]
Conference Program 2008 (Boulder)
Conference Program 2009 (Spearfish)
Conference Program 2010 (Prescott)
Conference Program 2011 (Missoula)
Conference Program 2012 (Lubbock): This pdf file was too large to post.
Conference Program 2013 (Berkeley)
Conference Program 2014 (Victoria, British Columbia)

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WLA Conference 2016

Friday, June 18th, 2010

51st WLA Conference
September 21-September 24, 2016
Big Sky, Montana

 

Linda Karell

Linda Karell

WLA President for  2016 will be Prof. Linda Karell, Montana State University.

All questions regarding the conference should be addressed to her.

_________________________________________________________________

 

 CFP

 

The profane: not limited to the blasphemous or the obscene, but rather encompassing that which is underrepresented, undervalued, censored, denied, and/or secretly shared. Unofficial and unsanctioned pleasures and punishments. The necessary complement of the sacred, helping both to define and erode it.

The 51st annual Western Literature Conference, hosted by Linda Karell (Montana State University), will take place in the spectacular natural beauty and undeniable tourist development that is Big Sky, Montana. We invite you to think about “the profane West” in ways that challenge entrenched definitions/conceptions/celebrations of the West—including the once subversive.

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

°  Indigenous literatures of and about the West
°  Feminist and queer approaches to Western literature
°  Women’s autobiographical and memoir writing
°  Pedagogy and K-12 issues in Western literature
°  Animals (and sacred cows) in Western literature
°  Montana literature and writers

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation. Deadline: June 1, 2016.

For more information see http://www.westernlit.org/wla-conference-2016/.

Please direct your questions to WLAConference2016@westernlit.org.

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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:
Mailing Address:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Country:
Email:
Home/Cell Phone:
Work Phone:
Check if graduate student in October 2011 Check if undergraduate student in October 2011

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.


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  • 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.

    Conference Proposals

  • Western American Literature (WAL)

    (The Journal)

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

    Article Submissions