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45th WLA Conference
Prescott Resort, Arizona:
October 20-23, 2010


President's Letter #2
April 27, 2010

Greetings from Arizona,

As you may know, last Friday the Arizona State legislature passed an extreme anti-immigrant law. The law, promptly signed by Governor Jan Brewer, allows for drastic measures to be taken against suspected illegal immigrants. This law will lead to racial profiling and is racist, intolerant, and stridently anti-humanitarian. Many in the state, in the west, and indeed in the nation are shocked by what the Arizona governor calls a “tough” attitude toward “border security.”

There has been some talk among WLA members about the ethical implications of our 2010 conference in Prescott. As WLA president, I believe that there is no more urgent moment for us to come together to counter the oppressive politics of Arizona and other like-minded states who legislate the denial of human and civil rights. I am in this business because I believe in the transformative power of literature; I am certain many of you do, too. In addition to the topics suggested in this year’s call for papers, and the usual rich diversity of topics our members inevitably present on, there is certainly room for papers and panels on the literature of immigration, the globalization of the American West, the contemporary or historical literature of racial discord, of labor, of land and territory. And what better year to honor our Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Luis Valdez, who began his career writing and producing agitprop theater to demonstrate the humanity of Mexican American farm workers? His work on behalf of civil rights in the face of those who seek to deny these rights should be a reminder to us: artistic expression is a powerful force against oppression.

In today’s New York Times, op-ed columnist Linda Greenhouse presents a good alternative to boycotting, which may actually hurt innocent small business owners and divest us of our political voice: “Here’s a modest proposal. Everyone remembers the wartime Danish king who drove through Copenhagen wearing a Star of David in support of his Jewish subjects. It’s an apocryphal story, actually, but an inspiring one. Let the good people of Arizona — and anyone passing through — walk the streets of Tucson and Phoenix wearing buttons that say: I Could Be Illegal.”

I look forward, more than ever, to seeing you in Prescott in October.


Gioia Woods

President’s Letter #1
December 2009


I look forward to welcoming you all to the Western Literature Association's 45th annual conference in Prescott, Arizona, October 20-23, 2010. In this letter you'll find information about and links to the call for papers, the conference hotel, and transportation.

Our theme for 2010 is "Western Performances." As always, any exploration of western literature and culture is welcome. I especially encourage you, however, to consider the ways cultural production reveals how western American identity is performed. You may wish to directly examine western American theatrical literature, the literature of performance, or the nuances and implications of identity performance. You may be moved by a theme suggested by the work and life of our DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD recipient, Luis Valdez. Whatever your focus, I look forward to a provocative schedule of panels, roundtables, and plenaries. Please see the official call for papers for more information and suggestions.

Prescott is located in Arizona's central mountains about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix. The City of Prescott Regional Airport is served by Great Lakes airlines and Horizon airlines with regular service from LAX, Ontario, and Denver. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is serviced by all major and regional airlines. If you choose to fly into Phoenix, you can arrange roundtrip shuttle service between Sky Harbor and the Prescott Resort with Shuttle U. Mention the WLA special round-trip rate of $50 when you call to book.

The conference hotel is the Prescott Resort and Conference Center. The WLA room rate is $110 for a single or double, $120 for a triple, and $130 for a quadruple. To get the WLA rate, you must book by September 27th, 2010.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information about plenaries, events, and field trips. Please email me with any specific queries.


Gioia Woods
WLA President 2010



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