USU LINKS: USU home l A-Z Index l calendar l MyUSU l contact l people/web search



(use the navigation bar below to find specific information)

The Western Literature Association Conference 2008 will be co-hosted by Prof. Karen Ramirez from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Prof. Nicolas Witschi from Western Michigan University.

The WLA and the University of Colorado's Center of the American West cordially invite you to participate in Western Literature Week, a celebration of contemporary western writing to be held in conjunction with the conference.


Click here for a pdf-version of the program in its final version (posted 9-11-08).

Be sure to check out the web-enhanced collaborations mentioned in the presidents' letter of invitation below. They show up as hyperlinks in the PDF program file.


Online registration is now open. Please click here to get to the registration page.

If you prefer to send a check, please download the registration form and mail it to

Western Literature Association
Attn.: Conf. Registration
University of Colorado
Sewall Hall
353 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Presidents' Invitation (updated 6 August 2008)

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It gives us great pleasure to invite you to join us for the 43rd annual meeting of the Western Literature Association, which will take place October 1-4 in Boulder, Colorado. This year’s conference theme, “Western Collaborations,” was initially inspired by the WLA’s first-ever election of two co-presidents; it has since prompted a vast and wonderful array of papers and presentations, special discussion panels, a parallel series of public readings by prominent western authors, and even a few online ventures that will be reported on and continued at the meeting.

Registration:  To register, please follow the links. Registration discounts apply until 24 August, so please register as early as you can.  For those presenters whose proposals indicated an a/v need, please be aware that there is a fee for any a/v use. If you do not pay the a/v fee, we will assume you no longer have an a/v need (new a/v requests cannot be honored).

Program Highlights: The conference will begin on Wednesday evening with a Keynote address presented by Charles F. Wilkinson, author and scholar of Native American legal and cultural issues, who will talk about his debt to western literature. This year’s Distinguished Achievement Award recipients, William Kittredge and Patricia Limerick, will combine their efforts for a reading and discussion event on Thursday evening.

The annual WLA Awards Banquet will take place at the Millennium Hotel on Friday evening, complete with dancing to an outstanding local band, “The Big Bang.” 

The WLA also has organized a Western Literature Week in collaboration with CU-Boulder’s Center of the American West. This series of public readings will feature such notable western authors as Aaron Abeyta, Janet Campbell Hale, Linda Hogan, Teresa Jordan, William Kittredge, Patricia Limerick, Simon Ortiz, Laura Pritchett, Reg Saner, and Annick Smith.

Other conference events will include:

  • presentations and discussion by well over 300 scholars and teachers.
  • plenary session with Nina Baym (University of Illinois): “The Many Wests of American Women’s Writing, 1833-1928”
  • roundtable discussions on the works of William Kittredge; on Writing Biography (a follow-up to WLA Tacoma’s hugely popular session on this topic/look for a transcript of the Tacoma session in your summer issue of WAL); on imagining war in the West; on captivity narratives and domestic violence; on William Haywood Henderson’s Augusta Locke and Wyoming, with Henderson as respondent; on pedagogy and Willa Cather; and on Native literatures in the classroom (web-enhanced collaboration!)
  • a reading, open to the public, by John Vernon, from his soon-to-be-released Lucky Billy: A Novel About Billy the Kid
  • special session on graduate student professionalization: “The Best Advice I Received in Grad School.”
  • special session on the science fiction western Firefly--to follow the ongoing and collaborative discussion this summer and fall, visit the blog at (web-enhanced collaboration!)
  • a public reading and discussion of Jean Stafford’s short story “Bad Characters.”
  • an informal gathering convened by WLA old-timers at a nearby saloon, where all are welcome to swap a few lies and other true tales!
  • the annual, irrepressible Readers’ Theatre: “‘It just doesn't pay to eat anything but government-inspected beef’: The Saga of Alferd [sic][sic] E. Packer.”

A full draft of the conference program listing the dates and times of these events as well as all conference panels will be available on the conference website by mid-August at the latest. When it is posted, please check it carefully for your entry or entries and communicate to the co-presidents just as soon as you can any revisions, fixes, or emendations.

Tours and Activities: On Saturday afternoon, you will have the opportunity to take in one of two excursions that we are presently putting together. For those with a taste for the big city and the best that human hands can create, we will be offering an afternoon trip to the Denver Art Museum. In addition to a fine permanent collection that includes a significant collection of western American art and one of the best presentations of Native American art and artifacts to be found anywhere, the museum’s recently expanded building, designed by the “starchitect” Daniel Libeskind, is itself a treasure and is within walking distance of the Colorado Historical Society. Also, during the conference  the DAM will be hosting several special exhibits, including a fascinating collection of works by and artifacts related to Charles M. Russell (visit for more information). For those more inclined to seeing the best that the natural world has to offer, our other Saturday excursion will be a guided nature hike in Chautauqua Park, at the foot of Boulder’s magnificent Flatirons rock formations.

Hotel: Our conference hotel is The Millennium Harvest House in central Boulder, located steps from the campus of the University of Colorado and from the justly famous Boulder Creek path and only a short walk (or even shorter shuttle ride) from downtown Boulder and the Pearl Street Mall. We have negotiated a rate of $125 for single and double occupancy, $135 for triple and $145 for quad, plus taxes. To make a reservation, call 800-545-6285, ask for the reservations department, and indicate your participation in the Western Literature Association meeting. You can make your reservation directly at; enter the group code WLA08 where prompted. N.B. the weekend of our conference is also CU-Boulder’s homecoming weekend, with a Saturday evening football game against the University of Texas. Please make your reservations as early as possible, since hotel rooms will be at a premium all over the area that weekend. The deadline for reserving a room at the conference rate is 9 September. Please also recognize that we have contracted to fill a minimum number of rooms at the Millennium, and so we encourage you to stay at this full-service, business-class hotel with gorgeous views of the foothills. Please note that The Millennium Harvest House is sold out on Saturday night, so we have negotiated a conference rate at the Best Western Boulder Inn (, which is approximately one mile from the conference hotel. The rate for Friday and Saturday nights is $144, and reservations can be made by calling 800-233-8469 and referencing code WLA. There are still plenty of rooms at The Millennium Harvest House for all the other nights of the conference.

Transportation:Air: Denver International Airport is served by all major and more than a few regionally specific carriers. We have arranged for a group discount of 10% with Frontier Airlines, which can be booked online, choosing “more search options” and using the meeting ID: 9ZNNF8. The Boulder Super Shuttle makes regular trips between DIA and Boulder; no reservations are needed for the trip from the airport, just check the website for information on how to find the shuttle’s boarding zone. The rate is $25 for one-way ride to a hotel destination in Boulder ($46 round trip). Auto: From DIA, Boulder can be reached most directly by taking the new toll road, the Northwest Parkway ($6.50 one direction).

Owens Award : Click here for information on the Owens Award in support of graduate students’ attendance of the conference.

To come: During the summer, we will post the program, along with updates on tours and activities. Please check the website for matters of general interest, and contact either of us directly with any particular questions at (303-492-6042) and (269-387-2604).

We look forward to seeing you in Boulder in the fall. Let’s work together to make this a conference to remember!

Karen Ramirez
WLA Co-President, 2008
University of Colorado – Boulder

Nicolas Witschi
WLA Co-President, 2008
Western Michigan University


Copyright © 2008 Western Literature Association. If you encounter any problems with this site, please contact the web master, Sabine Barcatta, at (435) 797-1603 or