• Testimonials

    I had rarely encountered such a friendly environment at a literature conference.
    Renata Goncalves Gomes, 2015
    Owens Award recipient 2013


In 2010, the WLA Conference was the first “real” conference I submitted a paper to. In retrospect, I have to say I could not have chosen a better conference or wished for a more welcoming, interested, and supportive group of scholars and colleagues to engage with. Since that first conference, my ties to the WLA have only deepened. From 2013 to 2016, I was a member of the Executive Council, which discusses the future of the organization. Telling my colleagues about my positive experience, I was able to recruit other German scholars to attend the conference. Their experience has been much the same as mine: they benefitted greatly in their research and were awed by the openness of the community at the conference.
Johannes Fehrle, 2020
Owens Award recipient 2011 and EC Member 2013-2016
The Western Literature Association is the most welcoming and supportive professional organization I encountered during my graduate education. WLA faculty are committed to graduate student mentorship and are eager to support student scholarship by offering valuable feedback and creating spaces for exchange and collaboration. The WLA is highly supportive of new research methods and innovative research questions, particularly in Indigenous studies and gender and sexuality studies. At WLA, I have made important and lasting connections with scholars that continue to enhance my intellectual life. The WLA is an excellent community for emerging scholars working on any aspect of Western North American culture.
Ho'esta Mo'e'hahne, 2018
Owens Award recipient 2016
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, 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 had rarely encountered such a friendly environment at a literature conference. 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. 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.
Renata Goncalves Gomes, 2015
Owens Award recipient 2013
As an incoming graduate student at Cal State Chico my first assignment was to find two organizations that I felt best fit the academic profile I wanted for myself, and to search their journals for articles that resonated with what I felt my own work would be. I gravitated to the WLA and ASLE, which I learned was born from WLA, and to essays by Nic Witschi and Cheryll Glotfelty. In my case, this simple assignment has proven to be a wildly providential watershed moment. Imagine my surprise and joy to find so many of the scholars I had read and cited at my first conference in Prescott, Arizona! And, they were approachable! They were interested in my work! In the WLA I have found kind, generous, and rigorous mentors, peers, and friends, whose willingness to engage and inspire both professionally and personally has been a constant boon and motivation. The resolute but congenial atmosphere of the WLA has set the tone for my approach to teaching and scholarship, and established my regard for active service to my institution and the profession.
William V. Lombardi, 2017
Grad student rep 2012–2014, Crow Grover Award recipient 2015, and EC Member 2016–2019
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. Of all the scholarly conferences I have attended, I have found the WLA's to be the most welcoming and encouraging to graduate students—and the most open to new perspectives and methodologies.
Alex Young, 2018
Taylor Award recipient 2010 and EC Member 2018–2021
I first attended and presented at WLA at the 2007 conference in Tacoma, Washington. Imagine my shock as I began to present my paper on Willa Cather’s “Shadows on the Rock” in front of many top Cather scholars including Ann Romines and Robert Thacker (both of whom I had cited within my paper). I could not have been more thrilled than afterwards when they both talked to me and encouraged me not just as a graduate student but as a fellow scholar. Further contacts and friendships I have made have been so much better than our standard perception of “networking.” Throughout that conference and during my second year in attendance at WLA’s 2008 conference in Boulder, Colorado, I have continued to meet faculty in research areas that have helped me as I continue my doctoral studies. Due to the conversations and contacts made at WLA I have benefited greatly, including current work on a book chapter and journal article, further seminars, paper ideas, and professional opportunities. The Western Literature Association has proved to be an invaluable asset and I look forward to continuing to attend throughout my career.
Jacqueline Harris, 2014
While I was a graduate student in American Studies, the Western Literature Association provided my first, and best, experience of academia as a true community of scholars. From the first time I attended a WLA conference, I was thrilled to be included in genuine dialogue with the experts in my field. Publications, important professional connections, and new research interests and teaching ideas have grown from my participation in WLA. And, the conferences are fun, as well as productive. WLA embodies the spirit of academic inquiry that is vital to me.
Jenny Emery-Davidson, 2008
Taylor Award recipient 2000
The WLA instantly became my professional home from the very first conference I attended as a grad student. I loved (and still love) the friendliness of the Association, the fascinating range of work being done by members, and the spirit of fun that prevails at the annual conference. Compared to the WLA, other professional organizations seem stodgy. It is perennially inspiring to belong to an association where levity and brilliant work go hand in hand.
Cheryll Glotfelty, 2007
Taylor Award recipient 1987 and Rosowski Award recipient 2010
I won the Taylor Award the first year I attended WLA. I arrived, full of apprehension, a Westerner in an eastern graduate program, doing western literature more or less in isolation. During those few days in Eugene, many WLA members introduced themselves, and I began to develop the relationships that have sustained me intellectually for the past twenty-some years. That year, I met Cheryll Glotfelty, who won the Taylor the year before I did, and we have been WLA roomies ever since. Partially because of the Taylor Award and the folks who noticed my work that first year, I secured a string of publications, and the WLA members who helped me get published made me competitive on the job market. Over the years, WLA members have written job and tenure letters for me, they have reviewed my work, and they have stimulated me to do better work and many have become my friends. 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, 2007
Taylor Award recipient 1988, repeat EC Member, WLA President 2011, and Treasurer since 2014
  • 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/