• Testimonials

    Publications, important professional connections, and new research interests and teaching ideas have grown from my participation in WLA.
    Jenny Emery-Davidson
    Blaine County Center Director, College of Southern Idaho



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CFP for the  2016 Film & History Conference

Are there really no Sundays west of St. Louis and is there no god west of Fort Smith? Representing a set of assumptions about the American Character, progress, law, order, and the conquest of nature, conflicts concerning the ideal and themes of redemption figure prominently in Westerns.  On the Western’s frontier, figures of power and subversion abound—lawmen and outlaws, gamblers and gunmen, cavalry wives and soiled doves, the Indian chiefs and buffalo scouts. Frequently presented as the Divine calling, Manifest Destiny promises material and spiritual rewards to the pilgrims travelling West—but the rugged individualists who succeed are often social, political, or even spiritual heretics.  How do such figures of power and subversion—materially or metaphorically—shape the creation, delivery and reception of the American West in film? How are these figures glamorized or critiqued in the Wild West? What structural or thematic roles in Westerns involve figures of power and/or subversion? As heretics mediated through film, how do these figures create or contest our perceptions of the West and the American Character?  When is the American ideal disguised in Western narrative, and when is it advertised? Why does this perfection fail and when does it succeed on the frontier—as an image, a means, or a principle—and for whom? Finally, what do we make of Western idols like Roy Rogers and John Wayne and Western mash-ups that attempt to subvert the ideals of the genre itself?

This area, comprising multiple panels, welcomes papers on the subject of gods and heretics / figures of power and subversion in Western film.

Possible topics include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

Heretics for Hire (Wyatt EarpBat Masterson, For A Few Dollars More, High Plains Drifter, Sukiyaki Western Django, The Train Robbers, Have Gun Will Travel, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid)

Redemption on the Range (Pursued, 3 Godfathers, The Quick and the Dead, Rifleman, The Proposition, El Topo, Redemption, Redemption: A Mile from Hell, Redemption: For Robbing the Dead)

Power on the Plains (Red River, High Noon, Ride The High Country, Custer of the West, The Sundowners, Rawhide, Open Range, Outlaws and Angels) 

Religion and Heretics in the West (Wagon Master, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Western Religion, Buck and The Preacher, Two Mules for Sister Sarah, Pale Rider, God’s Gun, The Gatling Gun, The Quick and the Dead, Deadman)

Native American Heresies (Geronimo, Cheyenne Autumn, Little Big Man, Dances With Wolves)

Genre Subversion (Bone Tomahawk, Ravenous, The Burrowers, Eyes of Fire, The Living Coffin)

The Gods of the Range: Western Stars and Idols (John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Audie Murphy, James Arness, Richard Boone, Roy Rogers, Randolph Scott, Harry Carey) 

Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. Please e-mail your 200-word proposal by July 15, 2016, to:

Sue Matheson, Area Chair, 2016 Film & History Conference
“Gods and Heretics: Figures of Power and Subversion in Film and Television”
University College of the North

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.

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.





  • 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