• Testimonials

    The Western Literature Association has proved to be an invaluable asset and I look forward to continuing to attend throughout my career.
    Jacqueline Harris
    PhD Candidate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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 1, 2017.

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 2013: Renata Goncalves Gomes


To attend the WLA Conference in 2013 for the first time was a unique experience in my academic career. I received the Louis Owens Award for Graduate Student Presenters Contributing the Most Cultural Diversity in the WLA, which afforded me the opportunity to get to know the organizers of the conference and to spend additional time in the Bay Area afterwards. I just felt at home when I arrived at the Berkeley Marina. I had rarely encountered such a friendly environment at a literature conference. As I had been hoping to study abroad for a year, I approached Prof. Richard Hutson, WLA President at the time, with my project. He kindly accepted to be my sponsor for a year as an international visiting researcher in the English Department at UC Berkeley. Furthermore, it was an enriching moment for me to present a paper that would be part of my doctoral dissertation in front of so many well-known researchers in my area of interest. I also vividly remember when I attended the round-table titled “West Coast/Left Coast: The Legacy of Berkeley Fifty Years after the Free Speech Movement,” chaired by Prof. Hutson. Annette Kolodny read an amazing paper about her experience in the Free Speech Movement. For the first time in all those years that I had been studying counterculture, I felt a real connection that I couldn’t express in words at that moment. But I told Prof. Kolodny later by email; I just couldn’t keep that joy to myself. Ultimately, the WLA Conference is an incredible experience for those graduate students who are willing to make progress with their theses and dissertations and their careers in Literature and Culture. It is a chance to get to know some very kind and important faculty as well as fellow students in your area of study. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon in Victoria!

—Renata Goncalves Gomes Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina University of California, Berkeley


  • 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