Special Funding Opportunity for Graduate Students

Your 2015 WLA co-presidents want you to be aware of a special funding opportunity for graduate students in honor of this year’s 50th anniversary. We also want to remind you of the annual awards given to graduate students by the Association. Whether you are teaching in a graduate program or are a graduate student yourself, we hope you will share this information with others as the June 15th deadline for conference proposals approaches.

1) The new 50-Year Young Scholar Fund comes from a challenge posed by past and future WLA President Susan Maher. In response, members of the Association donated funds so that graduate student attending the conference will be awarded a reduced registration rate. (The precise amount will depend on the number of graduate students participating.) Along with the very low hotel rates at Harrah’s Reno, the Young Scholar Fund awards will offset the high costs associated with conference travel.

In addition to receiving this blanket award, graduate students are eligible to apply for several merit-based awards:

2) The J. Golden Taylor Award is given for the best essay submitted to the WLA conference by a graduate student. For further details see: http://www.westernlit.org/the-j-golden-taylor-award/ This year, the award will be $200, in grateful recognition of Joyce Kinkead and Dorys Grover (see below).

3) The Dorys Grover Awards: In 1966 Washington State University graduate student Dorys Grover joined the fledgling Western Literature Association and started attending its conferences. From her books on WLA’s first Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Vardis Fisher to her work on Hemingway and Graves, Professor Grover helped to develop the field of western American literary studies. One of her doctoral students, Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English at Utah State University, has created the Dorys Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. Now in its second year, the Dorys Grover Award, in the amount of $200 each, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s 50th annual conference whose papers contribute to our critical understandings of region, place, and space in western American literatures.

Graduate students are welcome to apply for the above two awards once they have been accepted to present at the conference.

4) The Louis Owens Travel Award honors the late Choctaw-Cherokee writer, scholar, and WLA member. For further details, see: http://www.westernlit.org/the-louis-owens-awards-for-graduate-student-presenters-at-wla-conferences/

As the Western Literature Association enters its second half-century, we are pleased to offer these opportunities to those who will direct the future of our organization and conduct the scholarship that makes WLA possible.

See you in Reno!

Susan Bernardin and David Fenimore

Frontier and Borders in American Literature (ALA Symposium)

American Literature Association

Symposium on

Frontiers and Borders in American Literature

San Antonio, TX

February 25-27, 2016

Keynote Speakers:
Lee Clark Mitchell, Princeton University

Eric Carl Link, Indiana University Purdue University, Fort Wayne

LocationSheraton Gunter Hotel
205 E. Houston Street
San Antonio, TX 78205

Hotel rate: $ 163 per night for single or double

Conference Director:
Steven Frye, California State University, Bakersfield.

Proposals are welcome on a range of topics related to varied conceptions of the frontier and American borderlands, including but not limited to nineteenth and twentieth-century narratives of the frontier, Western literature, the literature of nature and the environment, the literature of cultural contact, and science fiction. We welcome proposals for individual papers, complete panels, and roundtable discussions on any aspect of this important subject.

Send one page proposals or abstracts to Professor Steven Frye at sfrye@csub.edu
by October 1, 2015.

Conference Details:  The American Literature Association will return to San Antonio for a symposium on Frontiers and Borders in American Literature, February 25-27, 2016. Please plan to stay in the conference hotel as this helps us meet our commitment to the hotel and keeps our rates low.  The Sheraton Gunter is an historic hotel only a block from the famous Riverwalk and close to the Alamo in this wonderful city.

Sessions run Friday and Saturday, February 26-27, 2016. There will be an opening event and welcoming reception on Thursday evening; details will be announced a bit later. In addition to the receptions Friday and Saturday evenings, a full lunch will be served Friday and Saturday. Our emphasis on the receptions and meals reflects a belief that some of the most productive scholarly conversations happen in congenial social settings.

Individuals may propose papers or panels by emailing the conference director, Professor Steven Frye (sfrye@csub.edu) no later than October 1, 2015. The proposal should include the title of the presentation or panel, an abstract that provides a clear idea of the material that will be covered, a brief vita or description of the presenter’s qualifications and email addresses for all participants. The proposal should be both pasted into an email and sent as an attachment (preferably in WORD). All emails will be acknowledged in a timely manner.

The conference director welcomes proposals for roundtables and panels that deal with the development of important genres, literary movements, themes, and issues related to the symposium topic.

Please note that no audiovisual equipment will be available for the symposium.

Those proposing papers and/or panels will be informed of acceptances in mid-October.  Participants will be asked to make their hotel reservations immediately and to pre-register on-line.  A program will be placed on the ALA website prior to our meeting, and printed programs will be available at the symposium.

ALA Guidelines: The most common ALA format is a time slot of one hour and twenty minutes with three papers and a chair. This permits time for discussion and three papers of approximately 20 minutes (or nine typed double-spaced pages). Organizers of panels are free to use other formats provided they respect the time limits. Furthermore, the ALA encourages panel organizers to experiment with innovative formats including discussion groups and panels featuring more speakers and briefer papers. Chairs will make sure that the panels start and end on time and that no speaker goes beyond the allotted time limit.  We prefer that chairs not present papers on the panels that they are moderating, and no one may present more than one paper at an ALA symposium.

The conference fee covers the costs of the conference including two meals and two receptions. We encourage all of those who are on the program to pre-register. The conference fee is $150 for all participants.  We regret that we are unable to offer a lower rate for graduate students and independent scholars.

ALA Membership: Membership in the ALA is not required in order to propose or present a paper.  In fact, technically the members of the American Literature Association are the various author societies.  Individuals may keep informed about the activities of the ALA, including our symposia and conferences, by checking our website (www.americanliterature.org).

Please note that the American Literature Association maintains the lowest conference fees of any major scholarly organization because it operates without a paid staff. If you have any questions that are not answered by this announcement, please contact the conference director at sfrye@csub.edu or Alfred Bendixen, Executive Director of the ALA, at ab23@princeton.edu

WLA in 2015 Conference

We are happy to see conference paper and panel proposals beginning to stream in for the Western Literature Association’s 50th annual meeting, 14-17 October 2015 in Reno, Nevada.

The proposal deadline is 15 June 2015 (click for link to CFP).

In response to several queries, your co-presidents want to explain the “ConfTool” management system and our reason for once again adopting this software package that some members have viewed as an unnecessarily cumbersome change to the old system of emailing abstracts. (It may be worth remembering that, 20 years ago, requiring email submissions was also viewed as an imposition!)

We, along with several past presidents and their teams, believe ConfTool to be a worthwhile bargain. It trades off a few extra minutes of each member’s time to create an account and fill in a few fields in exchange for saving conference organizers untold and unwelcome hours reformatting and even retyping submissions that are sometimes incomplete or inconsistent, and consolidating them into a draft program with many subsequent revisions. It automates the persistent problem of reconciling conference registration and WLA membership status with proposals. In sum, it distributes these minor administrative tasks among the membership, to free the organizers for the more substantial jobs associated with conference preparation.

  • For preformed panels, the system requires each panelist to submit an individual proposal, keyed to the panel title. So, for example, if an organizer creates a panel, say, “Animals and Asterisks: Decentering Biohegemonic Transubstantialities” each of the panelists have to submit (after creating an account) their own individual contribution (by clicking “Preformed Panel”) with the title of the panel and then the title of their individual contribution preceded by the panel title, for example, “Animals and Asterisks: Decentering Biohegemonic Transubstantialities” / “Where is the Senator for the Salmon? Gary Snyder’s Pescopolitics”
  • If the panelist does not have a separate title for an individual contribution, she or he can just enter “Animals and Asterisks: Decentering Biohegemonic Transubstantialities” / Panelist [or, if appropriate, “Moderator” or “Organizer”]
  • While this feature of ConfTool has perhaps generated the most critical attention, it ensures that all panelists are on board with the proposal and that we can quickly and efficiently communicate with them regarding schedule changes, A-V needs, and the like.
  • So, we encourage you to log into ConfTool at https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2015/ and submit your proposals. It’s going to be a great time in Reno, the “Biggest Little City” of the Intermountain West!

    Questions? Contact us at WLAConference2015@westernlit.org

    Susan Bernardin and David Fenimore

So, we encourage you to log into ConfTool at https://www.conftool.pro/wla-conference-2015/ and submit your proposals. It’s going to be a great time in Reno, the “Biggest Little City” of the Intermountain West!

“American Sniper” as Western

WLA Conference 2015

Call for papers

50th Annual Conference of the

Western Literature Association

“Visual Culture of the Urban West”

Reno, Nevada: October 14-17, 2015 

The 50th annual conference of the Western Literature Association takes place at Harrah’s Reno. We will gather there in “The Biggest Little City” on the western edge of the Great Basin, at the intersection of Washoe and Paiute tribal homelands, where the transcontinental emigrant trail and railroad line meet the mighty Sierra Nevada, 35 highway miles from North Lake Tahoe. Riding the edge of old and new, at the interface of urban and wild, of indigeneity and transience, Reno is an apt location for our semi-centennial: an occasion to consider our histories, but more so, the next 50 years of western American literary and cultural studies. In that spirit, our diverse featured speakers include Native American performance artist Arigon Starr, writer and activist Rebecca Solnit, novelist and musician Willy Vlautin, and a collective tribute to Robert Laxalt and the transatlantic tradition of Basque-American writing.

In addition to proposals on any aspects of the literature and culture of the North American West, we especially encourage innovative proposals on the following:

• Visual culture, film, performance
• Environmental art, politics, justice, literatures
• Indigenous Wests, writers, filmmakers, artists
• Basque-American writers
• Latino/a Studies in Western places
• Twain and Tahoe
• Gendered spaces in the West
• Emigrant and mining narratives
• The recreational West: tourism, mountaineering, river-running

Reno is easily reached by direct flights from many major hubs, soon to include New York City and London! Amtrak’s California Zephyr stops daily at the depot a few steps from our conference hotel, where room rates will run $99/night Friday and Saturday, and $59 other nights, with many complimentary amenities including wifi. See www.harrahsreno.com for more information.

All participants must be members of the Western Literature Association.

Contact us with questions about the conference at WLAConference2015@westernlit.orgProposal deadline: June 15, 2015. 

Proposals for panels and roundtable discussions should include an abstract for each paper or presentation.


Download the pdf version of this call for papers here here.

Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize


Each year the University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies presents a prize for the previous year’s best book on the Great Plains.

This year, the prize has been renamed as the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize and the cash award increased to $10,000.


Publishers or authors may make nominations; each publisher may submit up to five titles. Only first-edition, full-length nonfiction books are eligible.

Books must be copyrighted in 2014 and submitted no later than Jan. 23, 2015.

Send five copies of each title to:


Center for Great Plains Studies

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

1155 Q Street

Lincoln, NE 68588-0214


A winner will be selected in May 2015.

View our submission guidelines

Thinking Continental (CFP)


Thinking Continental:
Surveying, Exploring, and Inhabiting Macro Space
New scholarly collection

Editors: Susan Naramore Maher, Tom Lynch, Drucilla Wall, and O. Alan Weltzien

Indigenous cultures have, for millennia, produced a rich oral and written literature of place, one that often implies intimate connections across particular landscapes. Globally, rich traditions of environmental writing illuminate particular places. In these works, the local and the global intersect in illuminating, often poetic ways. Much ecological writing celebrates the localized place, often negotiated subjectively in what Lawrence Buell has called “the Thoreauvian pilgrimage.” On the other hand, concepts like the “butterfly effect” remind us that the localized place can have a global impact, that the microplace and macrospace intersect. And, as Ursula Heise notes, the concept of the “local” is subjective, referring even to our local group of galaxies. Her observation suggests that our notion of “nature” is too limited, typically referring only to planet Earth, when in fact nature encompasses the entire cosmos.

Thinking Continental, a volume edited by a prominent quartet of scholars and writers, seeks submissions for a collection of interdisciplinary essays and creative works that will break new ground in engaging the complexities of place, including challenges to the accepted and often unproductive perceived boundaries between the human and non-human; the concept of micro and macro space in the mapped world; and other topics that explore the movement of meaning connected to the many layers of place and being.
The collection will look at how to define these intersections. With contributions from scientists, social scientists, humanities scholars, and creative writers, Thinking Continental ranges over many questions and integrates international perspectives.

Among the salient questions that this collection will ask are: How does one envision an ecological macropoetics? How do old and new voices among storytellers, poets, and essayists chronicle and celebrate the vital connections between micro- and macrospace? How do they infuse the local with the global, the global with the local? How might geospatial analysis and digital humanities aim important new lenses onto global realities? How do deep time pathways—DNA, geological sciences, astrophysics—guide us toward a better long view of lived space? How can globally focused narrative remain personal and intimate? How might thinking continental advance bioregional agenda or address pressing issues like climate change, deforestation, industrial agriculture, species decline, heedless growth?

With a projected publication date of 2017, Thinking Continental will collect interdisciplinary voices and illuminate the multiple ways into biomes, continents, and global history.

Information for Contributors

Length of Abstract: 1-3 pages
Deadline for submission: January 15, 2015
A prospectus with accepted abstracts will be submitted to a small number of academic presses by March 1, 2015. The editors are experienced editors and scholars, whose publications and reputations are well established. We are confident in the book’s concept and its marketability. Three presses are at this point interested in the proposal.
Send Abstracts and queries via email to:
Dr Susan Naramore Maher at smaher@d.umn.edu
Or fax to:
Dean Susan Naramore Maher, College of Liberal Arts, 218-726-6386
Or mail to:
Dr. Susan Naramore Maher, College of Liberal Arts, 1208 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55803


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