• 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
    Copeland Fellow, Amherst College

The Louis Owens Awards for Graduate Student Presenters at WLA Conferences

The WLA honors the great writer and scholar Louis Owens for his contributions to western American and American Indian literary studies and for his unfailing generosity as a colleague, teacher, and mentor. The goal of the Louis Owens Awards is to build for the future of the Western Literature Association by modeling Owens’ own support and encouragement of diverse graduate student engagement in western literature and culture studies.

The Owens Awards are intended to foster ever-greater diversity within the WLA membership, to help broaden the field of western American literary studies, and to recognize both graduate student scholarship and financial need. Since its inception in 2004 through an anonymous donation, 23 scholarships have been awarded so far.

To be eligible for this award, you must be registered as a graduate student at the time of the conference. You are not eligible for this award if you have received it previously.

To apply, please submit the following to Lisa Tatonetti, Chair of the Awards Committee:

1. A completed Louis Owens Award Application 2017.

2. A copy of your WLA conference proposal.

3. A writing sample of 8-10 pages, double-spaced. This does not have to be on the same topic as the conference proposal but should reflect your work in the field of western American literary and cultural studies.

All materials should be sent by August 15, 2017. [Note: this deadline has been extended to Aug. 15 from the original date of Aug. 1. Please take advantage of the extra time!]

If you are interested in applying for this award, submit a paper proposal for participation in the conference by June 15. If your paper is accepted, you can then submit the above-mentioned award application materials. If you are awarded one of the Owens stipends, you are expected to attend most of the conference. Please see conference details for the 2017 WLA Conference. If you have any questions regarding the Owens Awards, please contact Lisa Tatonetti.

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Originally named the Minority Student Award

2004:  JOSHUA SMITH, University of Southern California

2005:  JESSICA BREMMER, University of Southern California

  ANDREA DOMINGUEZ, University of Arizona

Renamed Louis Owens Award/s

2006: ELIXABETE ANSA-GOICOECHEA, Indiana University

  JENNIFER CLARK, University of Southern California

2007: NAVEED REHAN, University of Alberta

2008: JESSICA BREMMER, University of Southern California

2009: CAROLE JUGE, Université Paris, Sorbonne

  JAMES E. MURRAY, University of South Dakota

2010: ELISA BORDIN, University of Verona

  STEPHEN SIPERSTEIN, University of Southern California

2011: JOHANNES FEHRLE, University Freiburg, Germany

2012: CHRISTOPHER MUNIZ, University of Southern California

  AUBREY STREIT KRUG, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2013: RENATA GOMES, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

 JASMINE JOHNSON, University of British Columbia

2014: JANE WONG, University of Washington

2015: SHANE JOSEPH WILLIS FRANKIEWICZ, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany


 JULIE WILLIAMS, University of New Mexico

2016: MIKA KENNEDY, University of Michigan

 MARIA MACKAS, Georgia State University

HO’ESTA MO’E’HAHNE, University of Southern California

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Meet our Owens Recipient from 2016: Ho’esta Mo’e’hahne

The Western Literature Association is the most welcoming and supportive professional organization that I have encountered during my graduate education. The faculty of the WLA are committed to graduate student mentorship and encourage student scholarship by offering valuable feedback and creating spaces for exchange and collaboration.

Through the generous support of the Louis Owens Award committee, I was able to attend the 2016 annual meeting in Big Sky, Montana, and present work in progress that considers speculative futures, settler colonialism, and animality in Philp K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The WLA has allowed me, an interdisciplinary scholar, to develop the literary studies aspects of my work. The WLA is particularly supportive of Native American and Indigenous studies for both emerging and established voices in the fields. The WLA also actively creates spaces for sexuality and gender studies.

Through this organization, I have made important and lasting connections with faculty and students that will continue to enhance my intellectual life. At the WLA Conference, I have had the pleasure of interacting with scholars such as Lisa Tatonetti, Bill Handley, Chadwick Allen, Lorenzo Veracini, Dustin Tahmahkera, and Alex Calder. The WLA is an excellent community and venue for emerging scholars working on any aspect of Western American culture.

~Ho’esta Mo’e’hahne, PhD Candidate, Sociology, University of Southern California


  • 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.

  • Western American Literature (WAL)

    (The Journal)

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