• Testimonials

    Publications, important professional connections, and new research interests and teaching ideas have grown from my participation in WLA.
    Jenny Emery-Davidson, 2008
    Taylor Award recipient 2000

Student Representation in the WLA

Graduate Student Representative
Over the years, more and more graduate students have started attending the annual Western Literature Association Conference. Now every fifth member of the Western Literature Association is a graduate student. Therefore, since 2001, the association’s Executive Council has included a Graduate Student Representative who is elected by the membership at large. Beginning in 2011, two grad student representatives serve on the council. Each graduate student representative serves a two-year term, and a new representative is elected each year.

Each Grad Rep’s responsibilities include:

  • being a voting member of the association’s governing body, the Executive Council, which makes decisions about the conferences and the running of the association’s scholarly journal
  • attending the pre-conference Executive Council meeting to act on behalf of the graduate student membership
  • being an active participant in the yearly conferences and most of their related events
  • organizing and moderating a panel at the yearly conference on some aspect of career and professionalization issues (he or she is usually assisted in this by a regular member of the association).
  • During the second year, the grad rep will be a committee member for selection of the Owens Awards.

If you are interested in submitting your name for nomination as Grad Student Representative, please contact the current WLA president. Note: The Graduate Student Reps are appointed for two years, and the Western Literature Association expects that appointment to be carried out. So please don’t nominate yourself or accept a nomination for Graduate Student Rep if you expect to finish your degree before the end of spring semester of your second year.

Know your current graduate student representatives:

Sarah Jane Kerwin (rep. 2021-2023)

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Sarah Jane Kerwin is a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. She studies early- to mid-twentieth-century American literature, focusing in particular on the US West, settler colonialism, and the environment. Her dissertation explores mobile and temporary relationships with place in western literature, in order to ask how a serious consideration of transience might invite alternative forms of ecological attention. For the time being, she lives in a small town in Colorado. 

Student representative Sarah Jane Kerwin standing in the woods by a babbling brook in Estes Park at the 2019 WLA Conference

Sarah Jane Kerwin in Estes Park at the 2019 WLA Conference


Elizabeth Martinez, rep. 2022–2024

University of Texas at Austin, erm3@utexas.edu

Elizabeth Martinez grew up in central Texas and graduated from Rice University with a BA in Sexuality, Women, and Gender Studies and English Literature. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. She studies Mexican American women’s literature with a focus on hospitality and hosting practices and foodways. Her dissertation takes a transhistorical approach, reading the texts of Mexican American women across time to analyze the lack of coherence inherent in the history of this identity.

A photo of grad rep Elizabeth Martinez

Elizabeth Martinez

Past Graduate Student Reps:

Surabhi Balachander, University of Michigan, 2019-2022
Jillian Moore Bennion, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, 2018-2021
Jes Lopez, Michigan State University, 2017-2019
Rachel Heise Bolten, Stanford University, 2016-2018
Landon Lutrick, University of Nevada, Reno, 2015-2017
Sylvan Goldberg, Stanford University, 2014-2016
Jaquelin Pelzer, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2013-2015
William V. Lombardi, University of Nevada, Reno, 2012-2014
Ashley Reis, University of North Texas, 2011-2013
Matt Lavin, University of Iowa, 2010-2012
Kerry Fine, Texas Tech University, 2008-2011
Angela Waldie, University of Calgary, 2006-2008
Drucilla Wall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2005-2006
Matthew R. Burkhart, University of Arizona, 2003-2005
Anne L. Kaufman, University of Maryland, 2001-2003




  • 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.

  • Black Lives Matter

    The Western Literature Association (WLA) is in solidarity with Black communities, after the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the ongoing pattern of systemic racism and injustice that targets black and brown bodies. ...http://www.westernlit.org/black-lives-matter/