Annette Kolodny Tribute


From left to right, Margo Lukens (University of Maine), Lorrayne Carroll (University of Southern Maine), Sabine Klein (kneeling, University of Maine-Farmington), Michael Johnson (University of Maine-Farmington), Jennifer Tuttle (University of New England), Annette Kolodny (Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture, University of Arizona), Nancy Gish (University of Southern Maine), and Cathleen Miller (University of New England).

Held at the Maine Women Writer’s Collection at the University of New England, faculty from several Maine campuses gathered together to pay tribute to influential scholar Annette Kolodny, present in Maine to participate in a series of lectures at three UMaine campuses (USM, UMF, and Orono). I don’t usually post Maine-oriented material on the WLA blog, but this seemed like a special occasion, as Professor Kolodny was touring the state in support of her book, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery, which was awared the 2013 WLA Thomas J. Lyon Book Award for Outstanding Book in Western American Literary and Cultural Studies. Also, among the faculty contributing to the tribute to Professor Kolodny were a couple of WLA members (Michael Johnson,  and Jennifer Tuttle, who hosted the event).

Panhandle-Plains Historical Review (CFP)

PPHR      Panhandle-Plains Historical Review

General Call for Papers

PPHR (published since 1928) is a scholarly historical journal that annually publishes articles and book reviews relevant to the region.  The phrase ‘Panhandle-Plains’ emphasizes a sense of the region centered on the Texas high plains but inclusive of Texas, Southwest, and Great Plains scholarship radiating more broadly as may be of interest to our readership.  While based in the field of history, PPHR has long welcomed research in the social sciences and humanities—for example, geography, anthropology/archeology, art history, and literature—as long as it demonstrates a strong historical grounding.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Review will at times do special topic issues (learn more about this at our website: but at all times welcomes submissions on diverse topics including:

ranching and agriculture

pioneers and early settlers

Native American history and culture

environmental history

the role of the military

Hispanic history

modern settlement and economic development

cultural and historiographical analyses


PPHR is a double-blind peer reviewed journal.  Queries welcome to Alex Hunt (


Editorial Board:  Paul H. Carlson, Professor of History, Emeritus, Texas Tech University • Dan Flores, A. B. Hammond Professor of History, University of Montana • Michael R. Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art and Western Heritage, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum • Marty Kuhlman, Professor of History, West Texas A&M University • Bonney MacDonald, Professor of English, West Texas A&M University • John Miller Morris, Professor of Geography, University of Texas at San Antonio • Garry Nall, Professor of History and Editor, Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, Emeritus, West Texas A&M University • B. Byron Price, Charles Marion Russell Memorial Chair, Director of Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West, and Director of the University of Oklahoma Press, University of Oklahoma • Sherry Smith, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor of History, Associate Director, Clements Center for Southwest Studies • Jean Stuntz, Professor of History, West Texas A&M University





Take a day out of days to explore the surreal magic of America’s leading living playwright.  From humble beginnings in the lofts and cafés of the Village, New York to Broadway and across the globe Sam Shepard has explored family, violence, politics and fear.  These are typical American theatre themes but Shepard takes them on through the eyes of a cowboy.  He mixes classic American theatre with uniquely American cinema, all inspired by the British and Irish theatre revolution of the 1950’s.  A Stetson wearing playwright?  If he didn’t exist, you’d have to make him up.

Already famous by the end of the 1960’s for opinion splitting but award winning plays such as The Rock Garden and La Turista he then escaped New York City and moved to London.  There he wrote perhaps his most purely Shepard play The Tooth of Crime, attempting to mix his passion for music intricately into his theatre work.  Only after his return to the States though was his reputation secured with Buried Child, True West and Fool for Love.  Family plays with a dark heart.

He is of course, for the general public, more famous for his film appearances and script writing.  Days of Heaven saw his first big film but it was the Oscar nomination for playing Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff that brought him a brief Hollywood stardom.  He has gone on to star or co-star in dozens of films since then and written screenplays, most famously for Wim Wenders’ Paris Texas.   The books of short stories/poems/thoughts that have often come from these film experiences such as Motel Chronicles, Cruising Paradise or Day out of Days are perhaps the purest form of his writing and can be read again and again.

Sam Shepard has just turned seventy and is still as busy as ever.  With the influence of Samuel Becket never far away, it is appropriate that much of his recent work has premiered in Ireland due to his strong connections with Abbey Theatre and Stephen Rea’s ‘Field Day’ Theatre Company.

This symposium explores not only his playwriting but also his films and stories, all through the most expert and experienced writers and practitioners working on or with Sam Shepard.

If you are familiar with his work this will keep you right up to date, if you have only just found an interest in some aspect of his art then this symposium will have you coming back for more.

All this from a man who’d rather go fishing than go and see a play.  Sam Shepard is still at the centre of a contradiction. “Can we become completely ourselves even while wishing we were something else?”  (Sam Shepard, Derry, 20th November 2013)

 The day will include the premiere of Ashley Smith’s new play I wish I was Sam Shepard

Confirmed Speakers:

Stephen Bottoms, “Fascinating me to Death: Sam Shepard and the Environmental Absurd”

Phillip Breen (Director), “True West in the 21st Century. Why Shepard’s masterpiece is the play for now”.

Emma Creedon, “Ireland’s Bromance with Sam Shepard…and Vice Versa: A Site for the Surreal.”

Neil Campbell, “Post-Western Man: Framing the West in Sam Shepard’s Films”


£25 for the symposium and play performance, including buffet lunch, teas and coffee.

£12 concessions for seniors, students and unwaged.

How to Buy a Ticket

Contact the Derby Theatre Box Office on 01332 593939 or book online at

A Lie Agreed Upon

Celebration of Deadwood‘s 10th anniversary (narrated by Jim Beaver):

International Conference on the American West


The III International Conference on “The American Literary West,” organized by the REWEST research group (UPV/EHU, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain) will address the literary representation of the American West, centering on the different meanings, connotations, and implications of the term “border” in our present century when used in connection with this peculiar region. We invite papers exploring theoretical and practical aspects of the West as a pluralistic literary space, with a special attention to twenty-first century western texts that renew and revise the traditional imaginary of western American literature. The symposium will privilege transnational and interdisciplinary approaches aiming to understand properly a genre whose iconography has moved well beyond both national limits and literary borders. Of particular interest will be the complex relationships between literature and a series of socio-political, economic, and cultural even! ts that h ave taken place in the present century, as illustrated by 9/11 and its aftermath, the economic recession, globalization, immigration, feminism, interculturality or the contemporary environmental crisis. Similarly, we will also examine the transnational characteristics of the American West, discussing the literary representation of the American West beyond US borders. The conference will also extend the analysis of western iconography to other artistic manifestations beyond writing, exploring the cultural transfers between literature and other cultural phenomena. Certainly, the long-lasting cultural transfers and intertextual links between western writing and western movies will be a major issue in this conference. However, this forum will also address other cultural and artistic manifestations that interact, overlap, and interrelate with western writing in complex, often dialogic ways, as exemplified by television, music, photography, art, digital art, video-games, the inte! rnet, spo rts, comics and graphic novels, or translation.

We welcome presentation abstracts on these and related questions. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-        the influence of the cultural myths of the Old West and the western in the present century
-        the West as an exceptional region as opposed to the West as an inherent part of American culture
-        motion vs. roots in the American West
-        the impact of urbanization and technology
-        the interaction between identity and the western landscape
-        changing interpretations of sense of place in the American West
-        migrations and diasporas in the West
-        minority western narratives
-        environmental literature of the American West
-        voices of protest
-        reimagining women in the West
-        western masculinities
-        bordercrossing
-        western mythologies
-        the American West in popular culture
-        science fiction and the West
-        Western American Music or Music and Western images
-        The West in the Web
-        Digital West
-        Western images in comics and graphic novels
-        Sports and the West

Please send 300 word abstracts (also a short bio and five key words, not included in the 300 words limit) to the following email address: by April 30, 2014. Papers may be presented in English, Spanish or Basque, though the official language of the conference will be English.

Confirmed plenary speakers:

-        Krista Comer (Rice University, Texas)
-        Susan Kollin (Montana State University)
-        Kirmen Uribe (Writer): Bilbao-New York-Bilbao, Mussche….
-        Willy Vlautin (Writer): The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete, The Free…
-        Special interactive performance by David Fenimore (University of Nevada, Reno)
-        Plenary round table “The Global Literary West” with Jose Aranda (Rice University, Texas), Neil Campbell (University of Derby, UK) and Alan Weltzien (University of Montana, Western)

The Organizing Committee


III International Conference on “The American Literary West”

Pastoral Conference

The Afterlives of Pastoral, 4-5 July 2014, University of Queensland.
Keynote speakers: Leah Marcus (Vanderbilt University), Andrew Taylor (Edith Cowan University) and Thomas Bristow (University of New England).
Convenors: Judith Seaboyer and Victoria Bladen, University of Queensland
Please submit a 250-word proposal together with a 100-word biographical note to the conference organisers at by Friday 21 March.

Over the last twenty-five years, there has been a resurgence of interest not only in the theory and criticism of pastoral but in literature that in various ways is in dialogue with the mode. It is inspired by the recent pastoral turn, by the questioning title of Paul Alpers’s book, What is Pastoral? and by Annabel Patterson’s focus on the pastoral as literature in action. As Alpers reminds us, the pleasures of nymphs and shepherds and their herds are only ever the vehicle for a quite different, darker discourse: “the very notion of pastoral . . . represents a fantasy that is dissipated by the recognition of political and social realities” (24).

In this spirit, the organisers seek participants from a wide range of fields, including literature, the performing arts, music and other forms of cultural discourse that engage with the core of this ancient tradition.

For further information and a list of possible topics/panels, see the conference website at:


Cather Conference (CFP)

The Willa Cather Foundation presents
Willa Cather Spring Conference and Scholarly Symposium
Mapping Literary Landscapes: Environments and Ecosystems
June 5 – 7, 2014 | Red Cloud, Nebraska

Call for Papers and Invitation to Participate

The 59th annual Spring Conference and the one-day scholarly symposium preceding it will focus on the complex impact of the natural environment on Cather and her contemporaries, and on the writers and artists of the generations that have followed. Drawing upon recent scholarly analyses focused on Cather’s “ecological imagination,” this conference seeks to broaden and extend these ideas, both within Cather studies and beyond. From her earliest fiction, Cather was closely attuned to the world around her, and her beautifully limned landscapes are integral to her characters, defining them and their situations. In O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, Cather was the first American novelist to treat the Plains of Nebraska as setting; as such, she taught her readers how to read that landscape, how to integrate with it. Beyond grasslands, Cather mapped many other literary landscapes: the Southwest in three novels, colonial Quebec in Shadows on the Rock, the New York streetscape in “Coming, Aphrodite!” –Throughout, we experience the reverse of what Cather says of Clement Sebastian in Lucy Gayheart: he “had missed the deepest of all companionships, a relation with the earth itself, with a countryside and a people.” Her characters possess–and are possessed by–landscapes, formidable and formative environments, that shape and color Cather’s work. While acknowledging connections to Cather and to her far-seeing art, we encourage analyses drawing from similar concerns and sharing a similar ecological imagination while focusing elsewhere.

The 2014 Spring Conference will provide a lively forum for discussing Cather’s environments and her environmental themes. With the Cather Prairie as perfect backdrop, scholars, artists, and readers will discuss the many literary mappings in her fiction and the informing landscapes of her life. Important to this discussion are those writers, artists, and scholars who continue to interpret the landscapes that Cather loved. The one-day scholarly symposium preceding the conference (Thursday June 5, 2014) will focus on Cather’s various environments, her diverse literary mappings. Having taught readers to understand the Plains, Cather and her influence have persisted as presences. How has that affected today’s ecological thinking? Who might also be seen in similar fashion? How has such ecologically sensitive writing shaped contemporary environmental writing? Which other figures need to be seen as compatible? Possible paper topics include:

Ecocriticism and American Fiction
Cather as literary cartographer: Is the Land Still “The Great Fact”
Reinterpreting the prairie environment
Cather and spiritual geography
Cather and the cosmopolitan landscape
Cather’s influence on contemporary Plains writers
Environmental naturalism in Cather
Sustainable practices in Cather’s fiction
Reading the Plains Today
Plains Landscape and Plains Poetry

Proposals, inquiries, and expressions of interest should be sent by February 15, 2014 to:

Susan N. Maher (
College of Liberal Arts
1208 Kirby Drive
Duluth, MN 55812-3095

Tracy Tucker (
The Willa Cather Foundation
413 North Webster
Red Cloud, NE 68970
Tracy Tucker, Education Director
The Willa Cather Foundation
413 North Webster Street | Red Cloud, NE 68970
Phone: 402.746.2653 | Toll Free: 866.731.7304 |


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