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    I can't overstate the importance of WLA to my career. I felt so welcomed as a graduate student that WLA has become my intellectual home.
    Nancy Cook
    Associate Professor, English Department, University of Montana, Missoula

WLA Conference 2017

52nd WLA Conference



WLA Co-Presidents for 2017 will be Professors Susan Maher, University of Minnesota Duluth, and Florence Amamoto, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN.

Sue Maher    Florence Amamoto 

June 21, 2017

Hello from your Co-Presidents in Minnesota,

Boozhoo! A million thanks to those of you who have sent in your submissions. We currently have over 200 submissions with a July 1, 2017 deadline approaching. We have capacity for more submissions, so please contact your friends to see if they are coming to WLA 2017. The conference website is http://www.westernlit.org/wla-conference-2017/.

We have a great line-up of writers including distinguished achievement honoree Rick Shiomi from the Full Circle Theater in Minneapolis. He is a formative playwright for Asian-North American theater in Canada and the United States. He will be joined by authors Will Weaver, Linda LeGarde Grover, Kao Kalia Yang, Joyce Sutphen, Kevin Kling, and Heid Erdrich. The Marriott City Center, where we will be hosting the event, is right in downtown Minneapolis, close to museums, theaters, symphony, fine restaurants, music venues, and everything a major U.S. city can offer. United Airlines is offering WLA members a discount for this year’s conference (see below). Minneapolis is served by multiple airlines, Amtrak, and major interstates. The Twin Cities have a first-rate light-rail system that includes an airport stop.

We appreciate all of you who have indicated your need for A/V equipment and who have used the information function in the ConfTool to alert us to your needs and plans. If you forgot to do that, you can re-enter using your login information and edit your submission. Please make sure that your information is accurate by our July 1, 2017 deadline. Conftool’s address is https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2017/

Acceptance notices will be going out very shortly.

Graduate students who wish to have their papers considered for the Taylor Award, creative writers wishing to be considered for the Manfred Award, and those of you vying for the coveted Willa Pilla, please note there are individual topics to check in order to alert us of your request.  

Final copies of papers for the Taylor and Manfred Awards are due to us (copy to both co-presidents) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committee for consideration. Our emails are smaher@d.umn.edu and amamoto@gustavus.edu

Here is what we are looking at in the coming weeks: acceptance notices are going out shortly; after the submission deadline closes, we begin work on the program, which will be available in early August.  ConfTool registration will open the second week or so of July. We will alert you as soon as things are open and running. You will want to register before late fees kick in September 20, 2017. When you register for the conference, you will be able to renew your WLA membership at the same time if you need to do so (remember:  you must be a member at the time you present). We encourage those of you who can afford it to consider membership rates for Sponsors and Patrons.

At the time we send out the invitation to register, we will give you more hotel and transportation information. Our venue is the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis.

In that spirit, the United 5% discount website is activated if you want to check flight costs and availability through that airline. Here is the link:  www.united.com/meetingtravel

Once on the link you type in this passcode: ZWHR170208 – 2017 

Please note that we are not organizing the traditional outing this year. The Twin Cities offer so many options to visitors that we will suggest outings to the cities’ theaters, the great symphony, sporting events (hockey, baseball—World Series play is doubtful—basketball, and football), museums, and the like. We hope to have information to you on Saturday options later in August. This year’s conference has a number of special performances built in.

We look forward to welcoming you in October (25-28)! Miigwech!

Your co-prezes, Florence and Sue!


Letter to Invite Submissions, 4-25-17

Dear WLA Members:

Boozhoo! Greetings from Minnesota—spring is here, and we are looking forward to getting your paper, panel, and roundtable proposals for WLA Minneapolis 2017 conference, to be held October 25-28, 2017, in the Marriott City Center. 

Go here to submit your proposal:  https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2017/

Please keep in mind a few things:

1.  ConfTool is the only way to submit your proposal.  You will need to create a new account, 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. 

2. You need only submit an abstract of your paper.  For panels and roundtables, 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:  “Mining Willa Cather’s Letters” / “The Best Willa Cather Paper Ever”) 

3.  The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2017.

4.  Please use the topics list to help indicate key ideas in your paper.  Doing so will help us organize cohesive sessions.  The organizers really appreciate your help with this! 

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 of you vying for the legendary Willa Pilla, please note there are individual items to check in the topics list in order to alert us of your desire for consideration for these awards.  Descriptions of these awards can be found on the WLA website.

6.  Final copies of papers for the Taylor, Grover, and Manfred Awards are due (to Florence, email address:  amamoto@gac.edu) no later than August 15 so they can be sent to the appropriate Award Committee for consideration.

7.  Registration information will be sent out (via email and on the website) later, after acceptances have been made—probably late June or thereabout.

8.  Remember that all presenters MUST be a member of the Western Literature Association.  You’ll have a chance to join or renew your membership with your registration.  Or renew or join earlier via the WLA website:  http://www.westernlit.org/membership/.

 We are excited about our program and having you all in Minnesota in the fall!

Your 2017 WLA Co-Presidents

Florence Amamoto                            Sue Maher
Gustavus Adolphus College             University of Minnesota Duluth

Letter of Invitation, dated 3-15-17

Dear WLA Members:

Boozhoo! Greetings from Minnesota, land of way too many lakes! The two of us are busy on details for the WLA Minneapolis 2017 conference, to be held 25-28 October 2017 in the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis. 

Our deadline for papers, panels, and other session ideas is June 15, 2017. Please do not submit proposals until you receive the ConfTool link, which should be ready shortly. Spend your time now on writing proposals and helping us fill up a terrific program focused on “Sweet Land, Mighty Waters: Myth and Storytelling West of the Mississippi.”

If you are still thinking about whether to join us, here are some of the WLA Minneapolis highlights:

  • Our Distinguished Achievement Award Winner is playwright, director, and Asian American theater company founder Rick Shiomi, who will be bringing some of his actors to give stage readings
  • Rick will be joined by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and master storyteller Kevin Kling Anishinaabe writers Linda LeGarde Grover and Heid Erdrich,  and fiction writer Will Weaver. Our conference will celebrate the vital literary culture that makes Minnesota one of the nation’s premier arts destinations.
  • We will offer wide-ranging papers, discussions, and plenaries on topics related to our theme and to the mission of the WLA.  Please see the website for the original CFP and a list of proposed themes we’d like to highlight, although creative writing and papers on all topics relevant to Western literature are welcome!
  • Saturday afternoon is open for you to design your own adventure, but we will supply lots of suggestions. The Twin Cities are home to many fine art and historical museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Museum, the Minnesota History Center, the Mill City Museum, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and Fort Snelling. We will check the arts and sports calendar for that weekend for the many outstanding theaters in the Twin Cities, the Minneapolis Symphony, professional sports, and the like.
  • We have a few surprises in store as well.

Soon we will be sending a follow-up greeting with more information on the ConfTool link for registration, the hotel registration link (our conference is in the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis), and the discount link from United Airlines. The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is a major Midwest airport, with national and international flights on many, many airlines. Amtrak pulls into the St. Paul Union Station (beautifully restored) from both Seattle and Chicago. Major U.S. interstates also cross in the Twin Cities. WLA members will have many ways to converge on our conference site.

Susan Maher & Florence Amamoto
Your WLA Presidents 2017

PS.: A print version of this letter can be downloaded here: Invitation to 2017 WLA Conference


Minnesota, the “Star of the North” and the eastern edge of “the West,” is border country. It is the land of Manabozho and Nokomis, Paul Bunyan and his Babe, of Longfellow’s Hiawatha and Minnehaha, of Keillor’s Lake Woebegone and the Coen brothers’ Fargo. Here one finds the headwaters of the Mississippi, the international Boundary Waters, and the celebrated Guthrie Theater. Held at the Marriott City Center in downtown Minneapolis, the conference will allow participants to take advantage of the Twin Cities’ exciting theater, music, and food scenes.

Our conference’s theme grew from the short story collection Sweet Land by Minnesota writer Will Weaver (made into a movie in 2005) and Minnesota’s long heritage of nature and regional writing. The state is also known for its mythic figures and master storytellers, and the Twin Cities are a thriving theater center with an increasingly diverse ethnic population. For this reason we will present the Distinguished Achievement Award, for the first time, to a playwright, Rick Shiomi, also a director and the founder/artistic director of Theater Mu, one of the top Asian American theaters in the country.

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

•  Myth, storytelling and storytellers, broadly interpreted
•  Nature writing and literature of place
•  Plays, theater, performance
•  Native American and other ethnic writers and writing
•  Borders and border crossing
•  Minnesota/Midwestern writers/literature
•  Food writing

We are also open to sessions on teaching, workshops, and roundtable discussions. Submissions must include a 250-word abstract, name, affiliation, contact information, and A/V requests. Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation. Deadline: June 15, 2017. Please submit abstracts, proposals, or questions to Florence Amamoto or Susan Maher at wlaconference2017@westernlit.org.

Here is a short video that introduces Minneapolis to you:


More information to come as it becomes available.


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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.

  • Western American Literature (WAL)

    (The Journal)

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