WLA Conference 2018

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WLA Conference 2018

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

THEME:

Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States


The WLA Conference 2018 will be hosted by Dr. Emily Lutenski, St. Louis University, and Dr. Michael K. Johnson, University of Maine, Farmington

The conference will be held in St. Louis, MO, Oct. 24 – 27, 2018.
Venue: Chase Park Plaza Hotel.

Emily Lutenski

Emily Lutenski

 

 

Michael K. Johnson

Michael K. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


June 18, 2018

Dear WLA Members,

We hope summer is treating you well, and we look forward to welcoming you to St. Louis in October! To that end, we want this conference to be open to as many as possible, so we are extending the proposal deadline to July 1, 2018.

Understanding Our Place: Conference Proposals, Conference Theme, Conference Site

St. Louis’s Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was initiated. Along with the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, the Old Courthouse comprises the Gateway Arch National Park (which, until 2018, was called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial). The linkage of these sites is a reminder of the intricate relations between U.S. imperialism and histories of enslavement.

Please submit proposals for individual papers and complete sessions to ConfTool. Remember that ConfTool accounts don’t carry over from year to year, so if you haven’t created a 2018 account, you must do so before you submit your proposal. Remember that we welcome critical and creative writing proposals on any aspect of literature and culture of the North American West—but we’re also happy to receive submissions that tie to this year’s conference theme: “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States.”

The Saint Louis Art Museum is housed in the only World’s Fair building—the “Palace of Fine Arts”—designed to be permanent.

The 2018 conference will be held at the historic Chase Park Plaza hotel, constructed in 1922, located in the city’s Central West End neighborhood. The Central West End was home to some of St. Louis’s most well-known writers: T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, and William S. Burroughs, for example, all lived in the neighborhood. Today, it is a walkable area teeming with restaurants and shops, including the independent bookstore Left Bank Books. It is also adjacent to St. Louis’s 1,300-acre Forest Park, the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (which popularized the ice cream cone and Dr. Pepper as it celebrated U.S. imperialism), and today the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum.

Chase Hotel (early 1920s), by W.C. Persons. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

As a site for jazz-age partygoing among well-heeled St. Louisans, our conference site was featured on the front page of the New York Times on January 2, 1923, when an article described a riot that ensued when federal agents sent to enforce prohibition law raided the “fashionable Hotel Chase” on New Year’s Eve. A “barrage of chairs, glassware, plates, knives and forks were hurled promiscuously,” the Times noted. “Women became hysterical” while the “rumpus was in swing” until the “officers retreated.” “One woman,” a police sergeant reported, “had me by the collar as we were leaving.”

We can’t promise that level of excitement, but we can promise an exceptional conference line-up that examines the literature and culture of the North American West from creative and challenging angles, asking critical questions about what constitutes region and role it has played in shaping culture, identity, and power.

Looking Forward to the Program: Special Events and Guests

These questions, of course, can be seen animating the work of our Distinguished Achievement Award winners in both creative writing and criticism:Percival Everett and José E. Limón.

Everett’s 2015 short story collection, Half an Inch of Water, based in Wyoming, “paints a vibrant picture of the West that layers itself subtly but assertively over the prevailing mythos of the lonely white cowboy,” according to a review in the Los Angeles Times.

Percival Everett counts among his many accolades two Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction. He is the author of around 30 books, many set in the American West. These include the parodic genre western God’s Country, as well as Suder, Walk Me to the Distance, Watershed, Wounded, Assumption, and the recent short story collection, Half an Inch of Water. No contemporary African American author has represented the black western experience in such extensive, nuanced, and complex ways. Everett is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

José E. Limón’s American Encounters requires we consider—perhaps now more urgently than ever—the following vision: “I wish to imagine the possibilities of a transformation of [the relationship between Greater Mexico and the United States], so that all children who live today along the Texas border can once again enjoy the waters of the Rio Grande—so that all of the children of Greater Mexico and the United States may play along the border and beyond, carrying their Mexico and their United States within them, . . . crossing this frontier at their pleasure, in equality, and in a peaceful and plentitudinous light of day” (José E. Limón, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture [Boston: Beacon Press, 1999], 6).

José E. Limón is the Notre Dame Foundation Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the Mody C. Boatright Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. His interdisciplinary work brings together literature, anthropology, and folklore in studies of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Greater Mexico, and American regions and nations broadly conceived. Among his books are Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas, Mexican Ballads, Chicano Poems: History and Influence in Mexican American Social Poetry, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture, and Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique. He is currently working on a book titled Neither Friends, Nor Strangers: Mexicans and Anglos in the Literary Making of Texas.

The plenaries by these Distinguished Achievement Award winners, while certainly the centerpiece of our conference, are not the only events of note.

Mural at Ponderosa Steakhouse, W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO. 2014. 6’x8′. Image courtesy of COCA—Center of Creative Arts. Photo © Michael Kilfoy.

On our opening night, we will be screening and discussing the film Whose Streets?, which documents the activism that grew from the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, Jr., in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. This will be followed by a discussion moderated by Jonathan Smith, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at Saint Louis University and a scholar of African American literature.

During the conference, we will hear from Teresa McKenna, a foundational scholar in Chicana feminist studies and Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Southern California, who will read from her memoir.

We will learn about the possibilities of public humanities collaborations from Sara L. Schwebel, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, who has collaborated with Channel Islands National Park on a digital humanities project for K-12 teaching organized around the children’s book Island of the Blue Dolphins and the indigenous woman, whose isolation due Spanish colonial policies of reducción and trade, inspired it. Professor Schwebel’s talk will lead nicely into presentations by the WLA/Charles Redd Center K-12 Teaching Award winners on Saturday.

East St. Louis poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmond will read from and speak about his work at the 2018 WLA Past-President’s lunch.

We will also engage local borders when we hear from poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmond during the Past-President’s lunch on Thursday. Dr. Redmond, along with fellow East St. Louisan Katherine Dunham and St. Louisan Maya Angelou, was an architect of the Black Arts Movement in the region. From his earliest poetry, Redmond has been a place-based poet. A poem titled “Carryover,” for example, which he read at East St. Louisan Miles Davis’s funeral, proclaims, “I have been tattooed for life: / A thought called EAST SAINT LOUIS / Is etched on each Island of my Brain.” “EAST SAINT LOUIS will rise!” It “Will rise from the muddy gutty Mississippi. / Will rise disguised as AFRICA” (in Gerald Early, “Ain’t But a Place”: An Anthology of African American Writings about St. Louis [St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1998], 481).

The ancestral Mississippian city of Cahokia is directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Monks Mound, pictured here, is the largest structure on the site and is the largest earthen mound north of Mexico. St. Louis was once nicknamed “Mound City,” but today only one mound within the city limits has escaped destruction: Sugarloaf Mound, which was purchased by the Osage Nation in 2009. The tribe hopes to preserve the mound and develop an interpretive center to teach St. Louisans about their city’s history from an indigenous perspective.

Candice Ivory, the “Queen of Avant Soul,” will perform at the 2018 WLA banquet.

And we’re delighted to be honoring the WLA’s 2018 award winners at the banquet on Friday night, where the “Queen of Avant Soul,” the fabulousCandice Ivory, will be joining us to perform. Today a St. Louisan, but with roots in Memphis, Tennessee, Ivory is immersed in the gospel, blues, jazz, and soul traditions of both places. We let her know that the WLA likes to dance!

In Closing, In Friendship, In Appreciation

If it wasn’t clear from the above, we are delighted to share this conference with you, our dear colleagues and friends, who have done so much to push our field in new and exciting directions. This is a preview of what’s in store—but there’s even more to come!

Most importantly, of course, is the tremendous compendium of critical and creative work on the North American West by you—the membership. So please do submit any remaining proposals by July 1, 2018. Thank you for all your contributions—we cannot do this conference, and we cannot do our work in western literature, in all its diversity, without you.

Best wishes,
Michael and Emily
Your 2018 WLA Co-Presidents


June 9, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Just a quick reminder and a little bit of conference news.

Reminder: we are ready to start receiving proposals (deadline June 15) for the 2018 Western Literature Association conference, to be held October 24-27, in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

Bit of news: Remember to bring your dancing shoes to the conference, because Candice Ivory will be performing at the banquet: http://candiceivory.com/biography/

Below is the how-to-submit-a-proposal-through-Conftool instructions:

To submit a proposal, go to:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2018/

Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal. Even if you’ve submitted through ConfTool before, you will need to create a new account for the 2018 conference, which you can do starting at the above URL. Once you have finished your submission, you will receive a notice from ConfTool indicating your submission success. If you don’t receive this email, check your spam folder and be sure to allow messages from ConfTool to get through to you, as some other important information (such as proposal acceptance notices) will like be sent through this system.
  2. You should submit an abstract for your paper only. For panels and roundtable, please remember that each member of the panel or roundtable must create an individual account and submission. The individual contributions on a panel are linked by the title of the panel, so for pre-formed panels, please enter the title of the panel followed by the title of the individual contribution. (Example: “Gateway Cities” / “St. Louis as Gateway West”)
  3. Shortly before the conference, the schedule will be available to download through the Conference4Me app (and will also be available online and at the conference in print form). A unique feature of the Conference4Me app is that it will allow you to download the schedule to your phone, and it will allow you to view the abstracts of papers accepted for the conference. We will send out instructions for downloading the Conference4Me app prior to the conference dates.
  4. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2018.
  5. Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award or the Grover Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those vying for the coveted Willa Pilla (awarded for most humorous), please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for those awards. Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/western-literature-association-awards/
  6. Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Michael at michael.johnson@maine.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committees for consideration.
  7. Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made (probably in early July).
  8. Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association. You’ll have a chance to renew your membership with your registration. Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/membership/

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski

Your WLA Presidents 2018


 

May 18, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Just a quick reminder that we are ready to start receiving proposals (deadline June 15) for the 2018 Western Literature Association conference, to be held October 24-27, in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

To submit a proposal, go to:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2018/

Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal. Even if you’ve submitted through ConfTool before, you will need to create a new account for the 2018 conference, which you can do starting at the above URL. Once you have finished your submission, you will receive a notice from ConfTool indicating your submission success. If you don’t receive this email, check your spam folder and be sure to allow messages from ConfTool to get through to you, as some other important information (such as proposal acceptance notices) will like be sent through this system.
  2. You should submit an abstract for your paper only. For panels and roundtable, please remember that each member of the panel or roundtable must create an individual account and submission. The individual contributions on a panel are linked by the title of the panel, so for pre-formed panels, please enter the title of the panel followed by the title of the individual contribution. (Example: “Gateway Cities” / “St. Louis as Gateway West”)
  3. Shortly before the conference, the schedule will be available to download through the Conference4Me app (and will also be available online and at the conference in print form). A unique feature of the Conference4Me app is that it will allow you to download the schedule to your phone, and it will allow you to view the abstracts of papers accepted for the conference. We will send out instructions for downloading the Conference4Me app prior to the conference dates.
  4. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2018.
  5. Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award or the Grover Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those vying for the coveted Willa Pilla (awarded for most humorous), please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for those awards. Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/western-literature-association-awards/
  6. Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Michael at michael.johnson@maine.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committees for consideration.
  7. Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made (probably in early July).
  8. Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association. You’ll have a chance to renew your membership with your registration. Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/membership/

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski

Your WLA Presidents 2018


April 16, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Greetings from St. Louis! We are looking forward to getting your paper, panel, and roundtable proposals for the 2018 Western Literature Association conference, to be held October 24-27, in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.

We are ready to start receiving your proposals!

To submit a proposal, go to:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2018/

Please keep in mind a few things:

  1. ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal. Even if you’ve submitted through ConfTool before, you will need to create a new account for the 2018 conference, which you can do starting at the above URL. Once you have finished your submission, you will receive a notice from ConfTool indicating your submission success. If you don’t receive this email, check your spam folder and be sure to allow messages from ConfTool to get through to you, as some other important information (such as proposal acceptance notices) will like be sent through this system.
  2. You should submit an abstract for your paper only. For panels and roundtable, please remember that each member of the panel or roundtable must create an individual account and submission. The individual contributions on a panel are linked by the title of the panel, so for pre-formed panels, please enter the title of the panel followed by the title of the individual contribution. (Example: “Gateway Cities” / “St. Louis as Gateway West”)
  3. Shortly before the conference, the schedule will be available to download through the Conference4Me app (and will also be available online and at the conference in print form). A unique feature of the Conference4Me app is that it will allow you to download the schedule to your phone, and it will allow you to view the abstracts of papers accepted for the conference. We will send out instructions for downloading the Conference4Me app prior to the conference dates.
  4. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2018.
  5. Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award or the Grover Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those vying for the coveted Willa Pilla (awarded for most humorous), please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for those awards. Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/western-literature-association-awards/
  6. Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Michael at michael.johnson@maine.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committees for consideration.
  7. Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made (probably in early July).
  8. Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association. You’ll have a chance to renew your membership with your registration. Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/membership/

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski

Your WLA Presidents 2018


February 15, 2018

Dear WLA Members:

Greetings from the edge of the West (and the edge of the East), from the gateway city of St. Louis, Missouri, where we are busy with preparations for the Western Literature Association St. Louis 2018 Conference, to be held October 24-27 in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel. The conference theme is “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States.”

Among the conference highlights that we wanted to mention, Distinguished Achievement Award winners Percival Everett (creative writing) and José E. Limón (criticism) will be present at the conference and will be reading from their work.

Percival Everett is a two-time winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards for Fiction, a recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, and the author of around 30 books, including the parodic genre western God’s Country, as well as multiple books set in the American West, including Suder, Walk Me to the Distance, Watershed, Wounded, Assumption, and his recent short story collection, Half an Inch of Water. No other contemporary African American author has accomplished as extensive (and complex) a representation of African American western experience. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

José E. Limón is the Notre Dame Foundation Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the Mody C. Boatright Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a distinguished scholar of Mexican American literature and culture in wide-ranging and interdisciplinary work that brings together the study of literature, anthropology, and folklore in studies of literature of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Greater Mexico, and region and nation more broadly conceived. He is the author of four books, including Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas and Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique. He is currently working on a book titled Neither Friends, Nor Strangers: Mexicans and Anglos in the Literary Making of Texas.

We particularly look forward to proposals that engage the literary and critical work and legacies of our two Distinguished Achievement Award winners.

Our deadline for papers, panels, and other session ideas is June 15, 2018. Please see the original CFP and list of proposed themes we’d like to highlight below, but, as always, we welcome proposals on any aspect of the literature and culture of the North American West. 

Proposals should be submitted through the ConfTool link, which will be posted on this page once ConfTool has been set up to receive proposals.

Soon we will be posting a follow-up letter with more information on other conference activities (including possibilities for a Saturday excursion), as well as transportation and hotel information.

Stay tuned!

Michael K. Johnson and Emily Lutenski
Your WLA Presidents 2018


CALL FOR PAPERS

2018 Western Literature Association Conference

Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States

Still on Ponderosa ©Michael Kilfoy

Mural at Ponderosa Steakhouse, W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO. 2014. 6’×8′.
Image courtesy of COCA—Center of Creative Arts. Photo ©Michael Kilfoy.

The 2018 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place October 24-27 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States” is derived from this location. This region, at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, has been urban for thousands of years: Cahokia, directly across the river from today’s St. Louis, housed the largest pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico and was long a hub for trade, communication, and transportation throughout indigenous North America. Today it is well known for its impressive earthen mounds, which the Osage Nation, among other tribal groups, counts as an important ancestral site. Long before St. Louis was known as the “Gateway to the West,” it was nicknamed “Mound City.”

St. Louis would become a North American borderland, shaped by French, Spanish, and U.S. contact and conquest. With Missouri’s 1821 entry into the nation as a slave state, St. Louis became envisioned as a gateway to western freedom even while it maintained southern bondage. This position made it possible for hundreds of enslaved people, including Dred Scott, to attempt to sue for their freedom in St. Louis. During the Exoduster movement, St. Louis indeed became a gateway to freedom for many African Americans migrating away from postbellum southern oppression. An emblem of white flight and urban disinvestment in the 20th century, today St. Louis is home to newer immigrant communities and central to the Black Lives Matter movement. It continues to serve as a microcosm of U.S. racial histories and of both stubborn divisions and promising coalitions across lines of race, class, region, and nation. “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States” is meant to evoke these confluences and crosscurrents.

Both Distinguished Achievement Award Winners, Percival Everett and José E. Limón, will be attending the conference, and each will give a reading.

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures of the North American West, but especially encourage panels and papers that explore the following topics:

• St. Louis (or other western places) as Indigenous Hubs, Gateways, or Borderlands
• The African American West
• Jazz and Blues and the American West
• The Art and Literature of Black Lives Matter
• St. Louis Freedom Suits
• The Work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Percival Everett
• The Critical Legacy of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner José E. Limón

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2018. Please submit questions to Michael K. Johnson or Emily Lutenski at WLAConference2018@westernlit.org.


For more information, check back periodically.

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  • 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.

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    Published by the Western Literature Association, Western American Literature is the leading journal in western American literary studies.