Thursday, June 17th, 2010
The 50th annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place October 14-17 at Harrah’s Reno. We will be meeting 35 miles from beautiful North Lake Tahoe, on the west-northwestern edge of the Great Basin, at the intersection of Washoe and Paiute homelands, where the transcontinental emigrant trail and railroad line meet the mighty Sierra Nevada.
Harrah’s has contracted with us for the lowest room rates in recent WAL history ($99 Fri-Sat; $59 Sun-Thurs) and is located dead center (literally, on Center Street) in Old Reno, walking distance from the Truckee River and many cultural and recreational attractions.
October is off-season in these parts and promises discounted transport & lodging rates as well as uncrowded roads, trails, and waterways. Yet we are almost guaranteed sunny warm days and cool, clear, probably frosty nights in which to contemplate and interact with the region’s incredible natural beauty, thriving tribal cultures, preserved traces of historic settlements and extractive industries, and all-year outdoor recreation. All this is conveniently juxtaposed, for our purposes, with casino-hotels, golf courses, ski resorts, trophy homes, gated communities, workforce housing, T-shirt shops, and sprawling WUI (wildland-urban interface) development. The bears at this time will be preparing for their long winter’s naps and are a common autumn sight in my neighborhood.
Preliminary discussions among members of our steering committee anticipate, among other possibilities, panels and plenary events focusing on tourism, mountaineering and river-running literature, the New Western suburbs, mining and emigration narratives, visual culture, and environmental politics, art & photography.
We have agreements from Willy Vlautin (UNR alumnus and author of the novels Motel Life, Northline, and most recently Lean on Pete) for a reading and perhaps a performance with his Portland-based band Richmond Fontaine, from LA-based Native performer and comics artist Arigon Starr , from William Fox (The Void, The Grid, The Sign; In the Desert of Desire; Playa Works), and photographer Peter Goin (Field Guide to California Agriculture; Nevada Rock Art; Nuclear Landscapes). We are discussing a retrospective on the late Basque-American writer Robert Laxalt (Sweet Promised Land, The Basque Hotel). Negotiations continue with these and other exciting and provocative scholars and artists.
We will confer two Distinguished Achievement Awards: one to the late Basque-American novelist Robert Laxalt, and the other to San Francisco–based writer and activist Rebecca Solnit (Savage Dreams).
The WLA Legacy Project and Conversations on Critical Genealogies and Keywords reflect on our organization’s half-century of scholarship, while plenaries, roundtables, and panels on visual culture and performative arts; on gender, the environment, and diverse western spaces; on Native, Basque, and Latino Studies direct us to the continuing growth of our field as we look towards the next 50 years.
Some plenaries and other sessions will take place in partnership with, and/or on the premises of, the University of Nevada, Reno; Nevada Humanities, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Nevada Museum of Art.
In addition, we anticipate with mingled trepidation and delight the prospect of our 2015 Readers Theater production: Judy Temple’s all-you-can-eat Donner Party dinner theater, a tongue-in-cheek show you can really sink your teeth into.
More details as they trickle forth,
David and Susan
50th Annual Conference of the
Western Literature Association
“Visual Culture of the Urban West”
Reno, Nevada: October 14-17, 2015
The 50th annual conference of the Western Literature Association takes place at Harrah’s Reno. We will gather there in “The Biggest Little City” on the western edge of the Great Basin, at the intersection of Washoe and Paiute tribal homelands, where the transcontinental emigrant trail and railroad line meet the mighty Sierra Nevada, 35 highway miles from North Lake Tahoe. Riding the edge of old and new, at the interface of urban and wild, of indigeneity and transience, Reno is an apt location for our semi-centennial: an occasion to consider our histories, but more so, the next 50 years of western American literary and cultural studies. In that spirit, our diverse featured speakers include Native American performance artist Arigon Starr, novelist and musician Willy Vlautin, and a collective tribute to Robert Laxalt and the transatlantic tradition of Basque-American writing.
In addition to proposals on any aspects of the literature and culture of the North American West, we especially encourage innovative proposals on the following:
• Visual culture, film, performance
• Environmental art, politics, justice, literatures
• Indigenous Wests, writers, filmmakers, artists
• Basque-American writers
• Latino/a Studies in Western places
• Twain and Tahoe
• Gendered spaces in the West
• Emigrant and mining narratives
• The recreational West: tourism, mountaineering, river-running
Reno is easily reached by direct flights from many major hubs, soon to include New York City and London! Amtrak’s California Zephyr stops daily at the depot a few steps from our conference hotel, where room rates will run $99/night Friday and Saturday, and $59 other nights, with many complimentary amenities including wifi. See www.harrahsreno.com for more information.
All participants must be members of the Western Literature Association.
Contact us with questions about the conference at WLAConference2015@westernlit.org. Proposal deadline: June 15, 2015.
Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation.
Download the pdf version of this call for papers here here.
For more information, check back periodically.