• 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

WLA Conference 2019


54th WLA Conference

Estes Park, Colorado
Sept. 18-21, 2019

THEME: Not Cloudy All Day: Climates of Change in the American West


Alex HuntThe 2019 Conference will be co-hosted by Professors  Alex Hunt (West Texas A&M) and SueEllen Campbell (Colorado State University). 

SueEllen Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 


We are ready to accept your submissions for this year’s conference! Please create a profile at https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2019/. Even if you participated in a previous conference, you will need to create a new login and PW (you can use the same as before, but you have to create it again). Before you do so, please read the information below. There will be some changes this year! 


Are you ready for these super low registration fees?

By August 2:

Regular $115                        Grad Student $75

After August 2:

Regular $165                        Grad Student $125

Amazingly, IF you are staying at the YMCA, this fee INCLUDES the banquet. If you are not staying at the YMCA, the banquet will cost an additional $25.


The 2019 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place September 18-21 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. 

Our location in the high Colorado mountains at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is a majestic landscape claimed by Arapaho and Ute tribes, US expansionists, British nobility, millions of visitors (nearly 4.6 million in 2018), and the federal government, notably the National Park Service. It is a fitting place to think about changes sweeping the West, especially the material and cultural effects of climate change (and the often unrecognized importance of weather and climate) and changing attitudes and policies concerning public lands.

Our Distinguished Achievement Award winner is Leslie Marmon Silko. We will feature a number of excellent writers/speakers, including Kathleen Dean Moore (Oregon), Dan Flores (New Mexico), and Coloradans Aaron Abeyta, Paolo Bacigalupi, Laura Pritchett, and Scott Denning.

Please see below for session/proposal descriptions, travel and lodging information, and short speaker biographies.

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Proposals

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures (broadly conceived) of the North American West. We especially encourage panels, papers, and “conversations” (see below for details) that explore the following topics as they apply to these literatures:

• The likely effects of a changing climate (and weather) on the lands, peoples, and cultures of the American West

• Defeat, resilience, denial, unrealistic and realistic hope, and other emotional literary and cultural responses to changes in climate (e.g., in Dust Bowl literatures)—or to other basic shifts in material realities

• Public lands, especially those maintained by the National Park System

• Environmental history and its relations to literature and other cultural expressions

• The varying abilities of different genres to deal with such topics: YA fiction, speculative vs realistic fiction, experimental eco-poetics/poetry vs traditional poetic forms, film, social media, visual arts, feature journalism, personal nonfiction literature, and so on

• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Leslie Marmon Silko

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the earlier-than-usual conference date, the deadline for submissions (via ConfTool) is May 20, 2019. Please submit questions to Alex Hunt or SueEllen Campbell at wlaconference2019@westernlit.org.
Check back for updates!

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Kinds of Sessions

In an effort to streamline the program and push for greater emphasis on discussion, we are offering a non-traditional slate of presentation options. We hope that you will experiment, in the spirit of the conference, with a different style of panel that will encourage real conversation to take place.

Rest assured that even in the “Conversation” format, you will have a title printed in the program.

In all formats, if you have any AV requests, you must check the box on the submission form. We will not be able to accommodate any requests after a submission has already been made. Since AV is one of our highest costs, we will add a $5 surcharge to your registration. We cannot provide computers.

As we organize panels from individual submissions and then schedule all panels, we will rely on the keywords you choose for your work, so please take care with them. If, for instance, you are presenting on Steinbeck, then you may also put “Dust Bowl” or “Grapes of Wrath” in as a keyword. If you are submitting an abstract for creative work, please explain how that work fits into the context of the conference (for instance, it is set in the American West and deals with the emotional impact of climate change).

In every format, you will each need to have your own, individual user account, your own submission, and your own titleIf you are part of a pre-formed group, you will find a space to enter both the group’s title and your own. Please do so this way: PAPER TITLE [all caps] / Panel Title [with title capitalization]. That way we will know which panel you are on.

CONVERSATION (pre-formed or individual): 3 leaders (with names and titles on the program) who will moderate a focused discussion with session attendees on any topic that would be good for conversation, as opposed to presentations. This option is for those of you who most value the conversations you have at conferences and really just want to exchange ideas and reactions with each other on topics of shared interest. We will do our best to match individual proposals in ways that seem productive; if we have trouble, we will contact you about options.

For your (100-word) abstract, please say what you want to talk about and why. Include some of the (significant, open-ended, focused) questions you intend to pose to the other people in the conversation.

PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL PANEL (pre-formed or individual): 3 presenters each with a 20-minute maximum for a talk designed particularly for an audience drawn from the general public. This option is for those of you who want to take your knowledge beyond academia. Depending on scheduling, we may indeed be able to invite the public, as we are collaborating on some featured speakers with the Estes Park Library. (Check back on this.) You might think of this as a good chance to practice speaking to interested listeners who won’t know any of our field’s professional/academic/theoretical language or assumptions but do know a lot about something else. Imagine, say, a group of readers at a public library event, or a church reading group, or a multidisciplinary conference whose other attendees are scientists, anthropologists, computer programmers, etc.

For your (250-word) abstract, you might add to your topic description something about the kind of circumstance/audience you envision and say why you think your topic is of broad public interest.

QUICK-PAPER PANEL (pre-formed or individual): 5 presenters each with a 10-minute maximum presentation time. This option is for those who prefer to hear more voices per session. You should plan to get straight to your point—your argument, the question you want to open, your corrections to the mistakes of those who have come before you, your conviction that everybody else has been ignoring or missing something critical . . . A good place to try out a new idea and see what happens. Standard 250-word abstract.

TRADITIONAL PANEL (pre-formed or individual): 4 presenters each with a 15-minute maximum presentation time. This option is for the traditionalists among us. Perhaps not as long as you would like, but the longest available at this meeting, and the best kind of session for those who use conference papers to get good starts on articles or chapters. Standard 250-word abstract.

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AV

You may not know it, but AV costs have become a major expense for conference organizers and scholarly associations. The WLA exec has discussed many options, but we don’t have a good solution at this point. For 2019, the co-presidents are going to add a $5 AV fee. This will help cover AV costs  slightly, but really the main goal is to encourage you to consider with some care whether you really need AV—without seriously discouraging it for those who need it or penalizing scholars for their diverse media studies. In addition, we are asking people to be specific about their needs—data projector only, data projector with sound, etc. This will help us plan to purchase different “gear” for different meeting rooms, thus economizing. We appreciate your tolerance of this latest attempt that we—as an association—are taking to deal with AV cost issues.

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Lodging: Why You Should Stay at the YMCA

You really should!

There are two reasons. One is that the WLA will lose $50 for every room in our contracted block that we do not use, or that someone reserves but then cancels. (This is why we are charging $50 more for late registrations.)

The second is more alluring. This is a very nice place to stay, with great views, a lot of nearby open space, comfortable rooms, and many nice common spaces—which is to say, it is an excellent place for camaraderie. (Lodging will be in the same building where all our breakout sessions will occur.) There is often, we hear, a herd of elk right in the middle of the campus, where we will be, and our days are at peak of their rut, which means we will hear the amazing sound of bull elk bugling.

It is also actually a good deal, given that the price includes three meals a day (including vegetarian options). Estes Park is an expensive destination, and our weekend is one of the most crowded of the year, making other options scarcer and pricier than one might think.

Do not plan to walk into town from the Y. It is too far and will take too long. But more to the point, the road is narrow, windy, has no shoulders, and can be pretty busy. The town’s bus system will have stopped for the year, and there are extremely limited options for taxis or other ride-hires. Similarly, the national park’s campgrounds are too far away for walking and will likely be full at least some of the nights we are there. Even if you have a car, you will find that restaurants in town are quite crowded and slow at meal times.

There are two room options at the Y other than the lodge rooms we have reserved. For a little bit less, you can stay in a more basic room with one queen and two bunk beds. Or you can rent a more expensive cabin. (In a cabin, you will likely have a choice of including meals or cooking for yourself. If you want to buy individual meals in the shared cafeteria, you can.) In either case, we can count your room towards our contracted minimum. (This should be much easier for us to calculate if you tell the Y you are coming for this conference when you book.)

All rates-per-night below include three buffet meals per day, beginning with dinner on the day of arrival and ending with lunch on the day of departure (the banquet will cost extra). Each hotel room includes two queen beds, private bathroom, and free wi-fi. Remember when booking to notify the Y of your affiliation with WLA—this will secure the proper discounted rate, and give WLA essential credit toward filling its required room block:

Single                   $168.00 per person
Double                 $103.50 per person
Triple                   $82.50 per person
Quadruple           $71.25 per person

Tax of 5.55% a night will be added. You may extend the group rate three days before and three days after our conference dates, on a space available basis.

Beyond the standard hotel room, the YMCA of the Rockies offers CABINS and less expensive DORM-style rooms. Please contact the YMCA directly for rate information for these accommodations. Again, it is essential for the WLA that you indicate your affiliation with the conference when you make your booking. Cabins book quickly, so consider booking ahead if you want one!

ADA rooms: We have reserved a number of lodge rooms with varied accessibility accommodations, and if you want one of those rooms, you need to be as specific as possible when you talk to the reservations people.

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Getting Here

The Estes Park YMCA is 1.5-2 hours northwest of DIA, Denver International Airport. The Estes Park Shuttle can transport you. (We will try to negotiate a group rate: check back on this.) Here’s the link: https://www.estesparkshuttle.com/DIA-airport-shuttle. $85 round trip, $45 one way.

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Elevation

The YMCA of the Rockies is 8,000 feet above sea level, an elevation most of you will notice. Plan to stay especially well hydrated and expect to get out of breath more easily than usual. You may even have a little trouble sleeping the first night.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

The YMCA adjoins the park, and you will be able to hike directly into it if you wish. If you can get yourself to the far (east) side of Estes Park, there are free NPS shuttle busses that will take you to key hiking destinations. Or if you share a car, you can also share the $20/day entrance fee. 

We had hoped to arrange a field trip into the park for Saturday afternoon, but doing so turns out to be difficult and expensive. So this area of planning is still fluid. We are currently planning to help you design and accomplish your own expedition, with the aid of a tour book we will create just for you. We plan to offer a guided hike into the park from the YMCA, and we will certainly help you find people to share rides with. Check back for more.

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Liquor & Cannabis

The family-oriented YMCA enforces tight restrictions on alcohol, including absolutely no drinking in public spaces such as lobbies, hallways, and porches—and we will honor their rules. They also do not allow cash bars. For informal gatherings on Wednesday and Thursday nights after the plenary talks, and for the awards banquet and dance, however, we have arranged that you may purchase drinks tickets (for decent box wine, red or white, and for local beer) for $5 each when you register and pay online in advance. We will have additional tickets at the on-site registration desk for $6. We will NOT be able to sell liquor tickets at the events where there is liquor available, so you will need to plan ahead. You may, if you wish, bring your own wine or champagne—but not hard liquor—to  the banquet.

The Y also has a strict rule against cannabis, which is still illegal to consume or smoke in public spaces in Estes Park and to possess anywhere in the national park or national forest. https://www.visitestespark.com/marijuana/

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Field Trips

Due to our proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park (and the great difficulty of booking a reasonably priced tour), we will not be scheduling field trips this year. We will do our best to offer useful hiking, walking, and driving suggestions, though. And we will try to help arrange ride-sharing.

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Featured Speakers

Aaron Abeyta

Aaron Abeyta is a professor of English at Adams State University (Alamosa, Colorado), and the Mayor of Antonito, Colorado, his hometown. He is the author of four collections of poetry and one novel; his poetry book colchawon an American Book Award and the Colorado Book Award, and his novel Rise, Do Not be Afraid, was a finalist for the 2007 Colorado Book Award and El Premio Aztlan. His poems and prose—which are deeply grounded in his place, family, and culture—have appeared in many places, including a good number of anthologies and High Country News. As a recent Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope and recipient of a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship and a Governor’s Creative Leadership Award, he has played a significant role in keeping literature vital in some of Colorado’s underserved regions.


Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi is on virtually every list of fiction writers who focus on climate change. His imagined future climate dystopias include The Water Knife (set in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where water has grown disastrously scarce, life is ugly, and violence rules)and The Windup Girl (set in Bangkok), both for adults, and a trio of Ship Breaker novels for young adults; his awards for these and other books are too many to list. His short pieces of fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Wired, Slate, Medium, Salon, and High Country News. Another Colorado native, he lives in Paonia, Colorado. 


Dan Flores (photo by Sara Dant).Dan Flores, who now lives in the Galisteo Valley outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, is A. B. Hammond Professor Emeritus of the History of the American West at the University of Montana-Missoula. He is the author of ten books, most recently the New York Times Bestseller Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History (2016), and American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains (2016). His essays on the environment, art, and culture of the West have appeared in newspapers like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and in magazines such as Texas Monthly, Orion, Southwest Art, and High Country News. His work has been honored by the Western Writers of America; the Denver Public Library; the Western Heritage Center/National Cowboy Museum; the High Plains, Montana, and Oklahoma Book Awards; and by the Western History Association, Montana Historical Society, and Texas State Historical Association.


Kathleen Moore

Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosopher, activist, and writer whose latest essay collection is Great Tide Rising: Finding Clarity and Moral Courage to Confront Climate Change. Her books include the award-winning essay collections Riverwalking, Holdfast, Pine Island Paradox, and Wild Comfort and the novel Piano Tide (set in Alaska). She co-edited the massive and powerful collection of testimonies by many of the world’s moral leaders, Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, and her essays have appeared in High Country News, OrionDiscover, Audubon, Utne Reader, Earth Island JournalNew York Times MagazineConservation Biology, and elsewhere. She has won an  Oregon Book Award (she lives in Corvallis and summers in Alaska), a Choice magazine Outstanding Book Award, and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. She co-founded and was first director of the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word, an innovative project that brings together scientists, musicians, painters, writers, and philosophers; and she has addressed audiences ranging from 350.org activists to Nobel Conference scholars to Disney World executives and students all over the country.


Laura PritchettLaura Pritchett’s short story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado, won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and her novels Sky Bridge, Stars Go Blue, Red Lightning, and The Blue Hour have won numerous literary awards, including the High Plains Book Award. She also writes nonfiction (most recently Great Colorado Bear Stories) and has edited several environmental anthologies. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun, Orion, High Desert Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, The Normal School, Writers on the Range, and elsewhere. She, too, was born, raised, and still lives in Colorado, near Fort Collins.

 


Brian Calvert and Scott Denning will join forces for a plenary session about climate change in the American West, about their public-facing climate change work, and about how that public work overlaps or is in tension with other aspects of their professional and personal lives.

Brian Calvert

Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief of High Country News, is a Wyoming native who grew up in Pinedale and holds a M.F.A from Western Colorado University and a B.A. in English from the University of Northern Colorado. He has worked as a foreign correspondent, writer, and audio journalist and has been a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. His essay about visiting Paul Kingsnorth’s Dark Mountain Project appeared in HCN in 2017: “So What if We’re Doomed? Climate Chaos, Mass Extinction, The Collapse of Civilization: A Guide to Facing the Ecocide.”
https://www.hcn.org/issues/49.12/essay-climate-change-confronting-despair-in-the-age-of-ecocide

Scott Denning

Scott Denning is Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, where he has spent half his life studying the breathing of the Earth and the role of life in the climate system. Since 2006, he has led a program to engage schoolchildren, teachers, undergraduates, graduate students, and the public on the scientific and cultural imperatives of climate change, and he speaks about twice a month to churches, farmers, schools, Rotarians, Knights of Columbus, reporters, and professional skeptics. A passionate science communicator who speaks with personal authenticity as well as academic authority, he has chosen to take an optimistic stance on our ability to deal with climate change.


 

We will have a demi-plenary session on the subject of Deconstructed and Reconstructed Indigenous Identities and Families with these speakers::

Susan Devan Harness, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was born on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation and became a transracial adoptee at the age of two. Her new memoir Bitteroot: A Memoir of Transracial Adoption explores the uneasy intersection of race, history, and the brutal government American Indian policies that affect the lives of families. She is also the author of Mixing Cultural Identities through Transracial Adoption: After the Indian Adoption Project (1958-1967).  

Margaret D. Jacobs, Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has for two decades studied Indigenous child removal. Her work on government policies from 1880-1940 led to her award-winning book White Mother to a Dark Race. More recently, she has looked at how authorities in the U.S., Australia, and Canada continued to remove Indigenous children after World War II through foster care and adoptive placements in non-Indigenous families—and how Indigenous women mobilized transnationally to reclaim the care of their children. With support from a Carnegie Fellowship, she is currently focusing on how to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones, Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado, is the author of too many award-winning novels and short stories to count, including Mongrels, Mapping the Interior, and Ledfeather. (Those awards include being listed as one of Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels of the Year.) He grew up in West Texas; often visited the Blackfeet reservation in Montana with his father, a member of that nation; and experiments with horror, sci-fi, fantasy, slashers, werewolf stories, and other pop culture forms. He also is interested in how Native Americans and their families and communities might operate in such genres.

 

Rick Waters is Co-Executive Director of the Denver Indian Center and Lead Relationship Guidance Specialist. A member of the Kiowa and Cherokee tribes, he has worked as the Sr. Director with the American Indian College Fund, Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and American Indian Home-School Liaison with the Dallas Independent School District. The Denver Indian Center is “an urban cultural gathering center for the American Indian/Alaska Native community of the Denver Metro area.”



 


Not Cloudy All Day: Climates of Change in the American West

The 2019 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place September 18-21 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. 

Our location in the high Colorado mountains at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is a majestic landscape claimed by Arapaho and Ute tribes, US expansionists, British nobility, millions of visitors (44.4 million in 2017), and the federal government, notably the National Park Service. It is a fitting place to think about changes sweeping the West, especially the material and cultural effects of climate change (and the often unrecognized importance of weather and climate) and changing attitudes and policies concerning public lands.

Our Distinguished Achievement Award winner is Leslie Marmon Silko. We will be joined by a number of excellent Colorado authors and activists.

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures (broadly conceived) of the North American West. We especially encourage panels, papers, and “structured conversations”* that explore the following topics as they apply to these literatures:

• The likely effects of a changing climate (and weather) on the lands, peoples, and cultures of the American West

• Defeat, resilience, denial, unrealistic and realistic hope, and other emotional literary and cultural responses to changes in climate (e.g., in Dust Bowl literatures)—or to other basic shifts in material realities

• Public lands, especially those maintained by the National Park System

• Environmental history and its relations to literature and other cultural expressions

• The varying abilities of different genres to deal with such topics: YA fiction, speculative vs realistic fiction, experimental eco-poetics/poetry vs traditional poetic forms, film, social media, visual arts, feature journalism, personal nonfiction literature, and so on

• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Leslie Marmon Silko

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation. *For the experimental “structured conversations,” which we envision as collaborative discussions driven by one-page “prompts” by 3-4 participants on a focused topic directly related to the conference theme, please submit a short description of your topic and the primary questions/ideas to be posed/proposed by your leading participants.

Please note: Due to the earlier-than-usual conference date, the deadline for submissions is May 20, 2019. Please submit questions to Alex Hunt or SueEllen Campbell at wlaconference2019@westernlit.org.

Check back for updates!


 

 

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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.

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