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.
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 Prof. Priscilla Ybarra, Committee Chair:
1. A completed Louis Owens Award Application 2015.
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 September 1, 2015.
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 2015 WLA Conference. If you have any questions regarding the 2015 Owens Award, please contact Prof. Priscilla Ybarra.
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Originally named the Minority Student Award
2004: JOSHUA SMITH, University of Southern California
2005: JESSICA BREMMER, University of Southern California, and 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
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FEATURE OF PREVIOUS WINNER:
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