• Testimonials

    The WLA has provided an invaluable intellectual home for me as I have worked to forge a professional identity over the course of my time in graduate school.
    Alex Young
    Alex Young, PhD Candidate, University of Southern California



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As an affiliated organization, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) hosts a panel at the annual WLA conference. As you know, this year WLA will be held September 21-24 in beautiful Big Sky, Montana! The conference theme is “The Profane West.” http://www.westernlit.org/wla-conference-2016/

The subject for the ASLE panel will be “The EcoGothic and the American West.” If you are interested in presenting on this panel, please send a 150-word abstract by Friday, April 28 to Amy Hamilton at amyhamil@nmu.edu. See below for the panel CFP. All presenters at the WLA conference must be members of the WLA.


CFP: The EcoGothic and the American West

Over the past five years, the use of the term “ecoGothic” to describe both a type of analysis and a mode of writing has proliferated among scholars interested in environmental writing that addresses the more terrifying/horrific aspects of the natural world. To date, much of the focus has been on authors whose work has more traditional Gothic overtones, such as Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bram Stoker, and Cormac McCarthy. This panel seeks to expand the conversation about the ecoGothic, specifically with respect to the print and visual culture of the American West.

Proposals and papers might address, among other things:

Ecophobia (fear and dread of nature)
Climate change
Natural disasters
Environmental injustice
Unnatural Anomalies

CFP - Studies in the Novel

Special Issue: “Gender and the Cultural Preoccupations of the American West” 

Deadline for submissions: 9/1/2016

Studies in the Novel is currently seeking submissions for a special issue on “Gender and the Cultural Preoccupations of the American West,” guest edited by Sigrid Anderson Cordell (University of Michigan) and Carrie Johnston (Bucknell University), which will be published in fall 2017.

This special issue examines the novel as a tool of political engagement through which women writers have challenged prevalent notions of the American West as masculine, antimodern, and untouched. Even thirty years after Annette Kolodny’s foundational study The Land Before Her, recent work by Nina Baym and Krista Comer has shown there is considerable work to be done to account for women writers’ engagement with the West as an imaginative and political space. Likewise, new directions in gender studies, border theory, settler colonialism, and critical regionalism have made new conversations about the Western as a literary genre increasingly urgent.

We invite contributions that examine the ways that women novelists have located themselves in the West—both imaginatively and geographically—asking how these narratives have engaged cultural “preoccupations” with the West as an extension of the predominantly white, masculine public sphere. Examining these narratives, contributors will also evaluate gendered representations of the longstanding contested nature of the “occupation” of western territories and, more recently, US borders.

Possible topics include:

  • Women’s writing and borderlands
  • Gender and settler colonialism
  • Intersections of post-feminism, the post-western, and the post-racial
  • Novels about the West as spaces for debate
  • New readings of canonical western women writers like Willa Cather and Mary Austin
  • Ways that the critical landscape shifts by paying attention to neglected texts
  • New readings of under-read women writers
  • Women writers and the post-West or post-regionalism
  • Globalization and the novel
  • Visualities in women’s novels about the West
  • The Western novel as a gendered genre
  • The gendering of anthropology in narratives about the West

Submissions should be sent in MS Word, devoid of personal identifying information. Manuscripts should be 8,000-10,000 words in length, inclusive of endnotes and Works Cited, have standard formatting (1” margins, double-spaced throughout, etc.), and conform to the latest edition of the MLA Style Manual. Endnotes should be as brief and as limited in number as possible. Illustrations may accompany articles; high-resolution digital files (JPEGs preferred) must be provided upon article acceptance. All copyright permissions must be obtained by the author prior to publication.

Questions and submissions should be sent to studiesinthenovel@unt.edu.

The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2016.

CFP: WLA Panel at SSAWW Conference

Society for the Study of American Women Writers & Université Bordeaux Montaigne

5th – 8th July 2017

Venue: Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France

The Western Literature Association invites submissions for its upcoming panel at the international meeting of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, July 5-8, 2017 in Bordeaux, France.

You can learn more about the conference here: https://ssawwnew.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/ssaww-conference-in-bordeaux/

In response to the conference theme of “Border Crossings: Translation, Migration, & Gender in the Americas, the Transatlantic, & the Transpacific,” we welcome papers that consider how women writers respond to the ideological and imaginative boundaries that have shaped western American literary and cultural production. Proposed papers might address but are not limited to the following topics:

• gender, genre, and the West
negotiations of racial, ethnic, and religious difference in western women’s writing
• women writers and the geographic and chronological definitions of the West
• archival and recovery work in the field of western women’s writing
• women writers and the post-western West

E-mail a 300-word abstract and brief CV to Cathryn Halverson (clh@hum.ku.dk) by May 10, 2016. While you do not need to be an SSAWW or WLA member to submit a proposal, you must be or become a member of both SSAWW and WLA in order to present as part of this panel.


CFP: Laura Ingalls Wilder: Critical Perspectives

Since 1932, when Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel, Little House in the Big Woods, Americans have been fascinated by Wilder’s representation of the American frontier and pioneer life.  That fascination has been renewed with the 2014 publication of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography.  Edited by Pamela Smith Hill and published by the South Dakota Historical Society, Pioneer Girl offers readers a view into Wilder’s life and her writing process.  Hill’s introduction and extensive annotations, intended at least in part for an academic audience, allow readers to see Wilder, her life, and her career in context. Additionally, in 2016, William Anderson has edited and published The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Harper). The time is ripe for reconsideration of this important American author.

Despite Hill’s framing of Wilder’s life and Little House series as worthy of academic study, Wilder has largely been ignored by academics.  In fact, the MLA Bibliography cites only 79 sources on Wilder published between 1971 and 2015; this number amounts to less than 2 academic sources published on Wilder per year in a 44-year time frame.  The lack of academic attention contrasts greatly with the ongoing popular enthusiasm directed toward all things Wilder.  Indeed, her books have inspired numerous plays, a long-running television series, television movies, and a musical; her books have been adapted so many times that many have referred to the “Little House Industry,” which began in 1932. Every year, hordes of fans make the pilgrimage to one or more of the “Little House” sites depicted in Wilder’s series and biographies.

In this proposed collection, the editors seek essays that critically engage with Wilder’s life and works, including the Little House series, her journalism, her letters, and Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography. We are interested in essays that consider Wilder’s relationship with the academy as well as her enduring place in American popular culture. We are especially interested in essays that consider Wilder’s place in the classroom, at the elementary level and also in university curricula. Essays might address the following topics, although the editors would consider other proposals as well:

·      Wilder’s collaborations with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane
·      Literary influences on Wilder and Lane
·      Wilder’s place (or lack thereof) in the American Literary Canon
·      Wilder in the classroom
·      Using Wilder’s works to teach creative nonfiction
·      Wilder in context with other American Women Writers
·      Wilder’s representation of Native Americans
·      Issues of race, class, and gender in Wilder’s books
·      Space and place in Wilder’s books
·      Wilder’s legacy

Please submit abstracts of 300-500 words, along with a short CV, to Miranda Green-Barteet (mgreenb6@uwo.ca) and Anne Phillips (annek@ksu.edu) by April 15, 2016. Accepted essays will be due no later than September 1, 2016.

CFP: Regionalism in Jewish American Literature, Studies in American Jewish Literature,  300-word abstract + brief bio due by April 15, 2016.

We are pleased to announce that

Studies in American Jewish Literature: A Journal of Literary Criticism and Theory

 is devoting a special issue to the subject of Regionalism in American Jewish Literature.  Submissions are invited that thematize regionalism and regional identities in American Jewish poetry, prose, drama, life writing, and creative nonfiction from all periods  and in all languages of American Jewish literature.

This issue calls attention to the importance of regionalism and localism in the study of American Jewish literature.  Papers that consider the institutions that shape(d), support(ed), or discourage(d) American Jewish writing in or about the American West, the American South, the American Midwest, Canada, Latin America, the Northeast, or any other areas with specific regional identities are welcome.

Papers that investigate the geographical imaginaries through which authors situate(d) regions in America in relation to Eastern, Europe, world Jewry, and other American spaces are also encouraged. We also welcome papers that explore the interplay of urban and rural spaces, cultural centers and peripheries, notions of exile and diaspora, and different ways of making meaning through the use of space, both real and imagined. Submissions that explore the relationship of American Jewish writing and the making of American myths concerning the land, its settlement, and its peoples are also invited. Finally, we encourage submissions that take up these questions in  English, Yiddish, Ladino, Arabic, Hebrew, and other languages of American Jewish expression.

The deadline for submitting an abstract is April 15th. Submitters will be notified as to the status of their submission by June 15th and final essays will  be due November 15, 2016. Abstracts should be 300-words. Please direct all questions to


Guest Editors:

Jessica Kirzane, Columbia University
Caroline Luce, University of California, Los Angeles
Rebecca Margolis, University of Ottawa
Sunny Yudkoff, University of Chicago

CFP: Teaching Western American Literature

We invite submissions for a proposed collection of essays on teaching western American literature. If, as scholars and teachers of Western literatures and cultures, we regularly share our research, we perhaps do not as often get the chance to share new and innovative strategies for teaching courses or individual works in Western studies. Our volume seeks to fill this gap by offering a range of essays on teaching Western literatures and cultures that will appeal to specialists and non-specialists, faculty and graduate students, and experienced and inexperienced instructors alike. We are particularly interested in critically, historically, and theoretically informed essays that address practical aspects of course, assignment, and/or curricular design and that offer pioneering (or tried-and-true) strategies and approaches to specific pedagogical issues, subfields, classroom technologies, secondary or supplementary materials, authors, and texts. We also welcome essays that offer strategies for bringing Western literary and cultural studies and courses into the broader disciplines of literary and cultural studies.

Possible essay topics include approaches to teaching:

  • Indigenous writing of and about the west
  • Pre-1900 western literature and chronological definitions of western literature
  • Gender, feminism, and queer approaches to western literature
  • Western literatures as counter-histories
  • Borders, frontiers, and geographical definitions of the west
  • Place, identity, and critical regionalism
  • Westerns and the post-west
  • Visual culture and images of the west
  • Literature and environment
  • Western Studies and Disability Studies
  • Racial, ethnic, and religious difference in western literature
  • The west in local, national, and global contexts
  • Teaching western literature to millennial students, veterans, and first-generation college students

250-500 word proposals should be sent to the editors by May 1, 2016. For those asked to contribute to the collection, we anticipate that completed essays of approximately 20 pages (MLA formatting) will be due by Nov. 15, 2016.

 Please contact:

Randi Tanglen •  Department of English • Austin College •  Sherman, TX 75090
Brady Harrison • Department of English • University of Montana • Missoula, MT 59812

Or send an email to: teachingwesternliterature@gmail.com            


A decade ago, two groundbreaking works seriously introduced the representation of swamps in literature and popular culture into critical discussion: Tynes Cowan’s The Slave in the Swamp: Disrupting the Plantation Narrative (2005) and Anthony Wilson’s Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture (2006). Since the publication of these volumes, developments in geocritical, ecocritical, posthumanist, and critical animal studies; continued developments in scholarship on Native American cultures and literatures; new novels, poems, films, television programs, comics, and other cultural productions; further developments in the new Southern Studies; and rapidly changing ecological circumstances (the escalating disappearance of coastal wetlands, as well as the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe) have all presented new vocabularies and critical frameworks uniquely suited to furthering thinking about swamps. In light of these developments and in order to revisit and continue the critical examination of swamps, we believe this is a good moment to bring together the insights of multiple scholars in a collection: Swamp Souths: Literary and Cultural Ecologies. A major university press has confirmed interest in this project.

The editors—Eric Gary Anderson, Taylor Hagood, Kirstin Squint, and Anthony Wilson—invite a wide range of essays that consider swamps in literature and popular culture from any era. The following ideas are provided as guidance:

• geocritical, ecocritical, posthumanist, critical animal studies frameworks
• comparative transnational or global studies approaches
• Southern swamps as “shelter” for runaway slaves, American Indians, Cajuns, and other marginalized peoples
• the implications of global climate change on human populations indigenous to Southern swamps such as the Seminole, Miccosukee, Houma, and Point au Chien peoples
• swamp-centric narratives as reflections of the impact of global climate change
• portrayals of Southern swamps in television and movies, particularly as a result of the evolution of “Hollywood South”
• portrayals of Southern swamps in regional music including Cajun and zydeco or in popular music by artists such as Tab Benoit, Hank Williams, and others
• the ways that genre fiction writers such as James Lee Burke, Anne Rice, Carl Hiaasen, and Randy Wayne White use swamps as narrative tools
• how artistic and cultural artifacts such as Chitimacha baskets or the paintings of George Rodrigue reflect and tell stories about swamps
• why monsters, ghosts, vampires, and loup garou so often populate narratives of Southern swamps

500 word proposals should be sent to editors Eric Gary Anderson, Taylor Hagood, Kirstin Squint, and Anthony Wilson at swampsouths@gmail.com by June 15, 2016.

For those asked to contribute to the collection, we anticipate that completed essays of approximately 5,000-6,000 words will be due by June 15, 2017. Proposals from both established and emerging scholars are welcomed, as is work from multiple perspectives and disciplines. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


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Open Access to the Encyclopedia of American Studies

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press for the American Studies Association (ASA), the Encyclopedia of American Studies covers the history, philosophy, arts, and cultures of the United States in relation to the world, from pre-colonial days to the present, from various perspectives and the global American Studies movement. With over 800 online, searchable articles and accompanying bibliographies, related websites, illustrations, and supplemental material, the Encyclopedia of American Studies is the leading reference work for American Studies. Access to content on this site is open to the public and is subject to copyright protection.





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    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.

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