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 and from LA-based Native performer and comics artist Arigon Starr . 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: to LeAnne Howe and to Robert Laxalt. 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
David Fenimore (University of Nevada, Reno) and Susan Bernardin (SUNY Oneonta) invite you to Reno, October 14-17, 2015 to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our conference will look back on fifty years of intergenerational scholarship, mentoring, and community-building with the Legacy Roundtable. We will consider formative movements and moments in Western American literary studies with special sessions on “Keywords” and “Critical Genealogies.” At the same time, we look forward to the next 50 years as we recognize innovations in 21st-century literary, visual, cinematic, and performative arts. To highlight our consideration of old and new Wests, of local and the global Wests, our annual Distinguished Achievement Awards honor LeAnne Howe, Choctaw novelist, scholar, and playwright, and the late Robert Laxalt, Nevada journalist and foundational writer of Basque-American experience. Featured speakers and performers include Howe, Arigon Starr (Kickapoo singer/musician/artist), and novelist and musician Willy Vlautin.
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 Harrah’s Reno, our conference hotel, where room rates will run $99/night Friday and Saturday, and $59 other nights, with many complimentary amenities including wifi and Starbucks coupons. See https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-reno/hotel for more information. If you would like to make your reservation, there are two ways to do so: (1) call our central reservations at (888) 726-6311 and provide the group code: S10WLA5 to make the reservation over the phone. There is a fee associated with that process. (2) The easiest (and free!) way to make a reservation is to use this reservation link: http://www.totalrewards.com/hotel-reservations?propCode=REN&groupCode=S10WLA5. Either way, the first night’s room and tax deposit will be required.
Stay tuned for important updates via our Western Literature Association Facebook page and twitter at #WesternAmerica1 and #westernlit2015
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.
For more information, check back periodically.