• 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, 2018
    Taylor Award recipient 2010 and EC Member 2018–2021


This page features calls for papers from any organization that would like our members to know about them. If you have a CFP that you would like to distribute to Western Literature Association members, please submit it to info@westernlit.org.

WLA Conference 2020

Co-hosted by Rebecca Fine, California State University San Marcos, and Dr. Kerry Fine, Arizona State University

October 21-24, 2020


Submission Information:

In addition to proposals on any aspect of the literatures and cultures of the North American West, the WLA especially encourages panels and papers that explore the following topics:

• Comic books/graphic novels set in the West and/or western comics
• Filmic and televisual representations of the West/western
• Borderlands literature
• Graphic violence, language, and/or sexuality in the West/western
• Texts set in the West, or that take up western themes, that incorporate visual elements or make use of graphic design in their engagement with language
• Approaches to teaching texts and topics of the North American West
• California writers and texts (Le Guin, Steinbeck, Didion, Mary Austin, John Rollin Ridge, Helen Hunt Jackson, María Ruiz de Burton, etc.)
• Writers and texts that explore California surfing and beach culture
• The work of invited speakers Rebecca Roanhorse and Arigon Starr
• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Juan Felipe Herrera
• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Stephen Graham Jones

While we are still interested in traditional 4 person panels, this format may not be as captivating in an online format. We encourage proposals for innovative formats that will take advantage of the virtual (and graphic) nature of the conference. We are also implementing a range of formats including:

Lightning Talks – 5-6 presenters. Each with a 5-7 minute presentation time. Proposals can range from concise traditional-type presentations to Ignite or PechaKucha 20×20 style talks. Abstracts for Lightning Talks should be 200 words.

Conversation Panels – (Preformed Panels Only) Propose to help facilitate a focused conversation on a topic relevant to WLA members. Each scheduled conversation will have 2 or 3 leaders to share responsibility for its focus, depth, concreteness. This is NOT a traditional panel or a roundtable. This is a conversation that should include an audience participation component. Each of the 2 or 3 conversation leaders will submit an abstract of no more than 250 words explaining their individual contribution.

Public Intellectual Panels – (Preformed Panels Only) 3 presenters each with a 15-minute maximum for a talk designed particularly for an audience drawn from the general public. Be sure to identify your intended audience in your abstract (your local community gathered at the public library, a retirement community, etc…) and take care to shape your presentation for a non-academic audience. Abstracts for public intellectual talks should be 250 words.

Roundtables – Proposals for a Roundtable (5-6 presenters) should be presentations of 5-6 minutes each. Roundtables differ from Lightning Talk panels in that the while preformed Lightning Talk panels might be thematically coherent each presentation is individual. Roundtables typically take the shape of a larger discussion or debate based on the brief comments of the presenters. The organizer must submit an overview of the Roundtable in an abstract of no more than 250 words. Each presenter on the Roundtable will submit an abstract of no more than 200 words explaining their individual contribution.

Creative Writing/Work(s) – 4 presenters. Each with a 15-minute maximum presentation time. Present your original creative work (in any genre). Abstracts for the Creative track should be 150-200 words.

Presenters on preformed panels and roundtable discussions must submit proposals individually.

Proposals can be submitted using the WLA Conference Conftool portal: https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2020/.

Please submit questions to Rebecca M. Lush or Kerry Fine at WLAConference2020@westernlit.org.

DEADLINE: July 15, 2020.


The Mandalorian and the Western at Western Literature Association 2020

deadline for submissions: 
July 5, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Erin N. Bistline/University of Tennessee-Knoxville
contact email: 

The Mandalorian explicitly interacts with the Western genre, setting up a story of a single gunfighter standing against enemies to protect the innocent. The theme of the 2020 Western Literature Association conference is graphic wests, which lends itself well to a panel focused on the Disney+ series.  

The conference itself will be held virtually, and the organizers seek a variety of panel types. Individuals interested in being part of a panel focused on The Mandalorian should submit 100-200 word proposals to ebistlin@utk.edu by July 5. Responses will be sent by July 10. 

Erin Bistline


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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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