WLA 2020 Conference Update

CFP: Western Literature Association Virtual Conference “Graphic Wests”

Conference Info in Brief

Conference Theme: Graphics Wests
When: October 21-24, 2020
Where: Online
Proposals Due: July 15, 2020
Click here for details
Questions? Contact us WLAConference2020@westernlit.org

Join us for our first fully virtual conference. We are committed to creating an engaging experience with low registration costs to increase accessibility.

Due to the unusual and unprecedented public health concerns and attendant restrictions on university sponsored-travel related to COVID-19, the 2020 55th annual conference will be held virtually.

The theme “Graphic Wests” invites proposals that take up the graphic in all its connotations, from graphic content to visual texts as well as the intersections of the two when considering the varied literatures and cultural products of the North American West.

The conference will include special talks with the following confirmed guest speakers:

Stephen Graham Jones, novelist and WLA 2020 DAA recipient
Rebecca Roanhorse, novelist
Arigon Starr, graphic novelist, playwright, and singer/songwriter

Since we originally intended to host this meeting in Southern California, we are still interested in proposals that focus on issues related to California and the American West but as always, the WLA meeting remains interested in proposals that focus on any aspect of the literatures and cultures of the North American West (including Canada and Mexico).

In addition to proposals on any aspect of the literatures and cultures of the North American West, the WLA especially encourages panels and papers that explore the following topics:

• Comic books/graphic novels set in the West and/or western comics
• Filmic and televisual representations of the West/western
• Graphic violence, language, and/or sexuality in the West/western
• Texts set in the West, or that take up western themes, that incorporate visual elements or make use of graphic design in their engagement with language
• Creative submissions about the North American West
• Approaches to teaching texts and topics of the North American West
• Antiracist pedagogies/practices
• The work of invited speakers Rebecca Roanhorse and Arigon Starr
• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Juan Felipe Herrera
• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Stephen Graham Jones

The deadline is July 15, 2020.

We are ready to receive your submissions.

See our conference webpage for more details on this year’s presentation formats.


Statement from the Western Literature Association

The Executive Council of the Western Literature Association <http://www.westernlit.org/officers/> has approved for immediate distribution the following statement:

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. We recognize, as well, that the United States is built on a history of stolen lands and bodies and that Indigenous people, as well as other people of color, are targeted by racial violence. In light of these dark realities, we support the right to freedom of speech and the outcry against continuing patterns of government and police violence that has led to protests across the nation. They are both righteous and necessary.

As an organization, the WLA supports those fighting the racism, historical oppression, and structural injustices so deeply embedded in the United States. We mourn those who have been murdered as well as the senseless violence enacted against those voicing their grief and anger.

This is more than our commitment to celebrating the diverse voices and experiences of the American West: it is also our duty as an organization with its own social privilege. With recent WLA conferences held in Minneapolis (2017) and St. Louis (2018), we have enjoyed the hospitality of the communities that were home to George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Michael Brown. In their memory, we say their names and condemn the acts of violence that ended their lives. The institutions and laws of this country have failed individuals and communities of color, and we recognize the need to address such systemic racism and every act of violence it engenders.

WLA is donating a portion of the registration fees from our upcoming conference meeting to an organization dedicated to social justice, antiracism, and the promotion of equitable political and social practices for Black communities to demonstrate our solidarity. We also encourage scholars to continue their support of Black communities in their classrooms; as educators we can facilitate difficult but necessary conversations and through our syllabi provide spaces for Black voices.


Western Literature Association Conference 2020 Update

Please note following update about the 2020 Western Literature Association conference from Drs. Kerry Fine and Rebecca Lush, co-presidents of the WLA:
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in our everyday lives and how we conduct business in academia. Due to concerns that there could be a renewed wave of infections in the Fall and the possibility of declining university support for conference travel, we have decided to transition our October 2020 meeting to an online format. These are unprecedented times and we cannot, in good conscience, risk the physical health of our members or the economic health of our association.
While we are saddened to not have an opportunity to meet in person as an association, please know that your 2020 co-presidents are working on putting together an online conference that still provides social connection and interaction. Please see our updated CFP attached to this message and always visit the WLA 2020 conference webpage for all the latest information. The portal for submitting proposals will be open very soon, and we’ve also extended the deadline to July 15. We know that many of you, ourselves included, have been extremely busy lately. Many of us have been shifting much of what we do to online formats, and so we trust that this extension will prove welcome and reassuring.
Despite these less-than-ideal circumstances, we ask you to join us in focusing on the positives of this unexpected turn of events. An online meeting will allow us to try a nearly carbon neutral conference format which our sister organization ASLE has done in the past. We are also happy to have increased accessibility with an online environment. We recognize that online is not a substitute for the connection and experience we enjoy each year at our face-to-face meetings, but we hope to connect with you all virtually this October and then in person in Fall 2021 in Santa Fe.
Kerry Fine, Arizona State University
Rebecca M. Lush, California State University, San Marcos

Western Literature Association Conference 2020

55th WLA Conference
Theme: Graphic Wests
October 21-24, 2020
Location: the Hilton San Diego Del Mar, a beautiful coastal location one mile from the beach!

WLA Co-Presidents for 2020 will be Dr. Rebecca Lush, California State University San Marcos, and Dr. Kerry Fine, Arizona State University.

San Diego, home of the Kumeyaay, is a region of shifting borders and contested spaces that has been controlled by Spain, Mexico, and, most recently, the United States. In contemporary times, the region of southern California has nurtured visual culture through Hollywood and Comic Con International, the largest convention for comic book culture in the world hosted annually in San Diego. Drawing on this mixture, the theme “Graphic Wests” invites proposals that take up the graphic in all of its connotations, from graphic content to visual texts as well as the intersections of the two when considering the varied literatures and cultural products of the North American West. We also invite papers that address the unique culture of Southern California, such as surf and coastal literatures, along with papers that examine California writers and themes.
The 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award winners, poet Juan Felipe Herrera (21st National Poet Laureate), and fiction author Stephen Graham Jones, whose works exemplify “Graphic Wests,” will join us at the WLA’s 55th annual conference. The 2020 conference will take place in the beautiful coastal area of the Hilton San Diego Del Mar located just one mile from the beach and in close proximity to the Cedros Avenue Design District and Solana Beach. Additional speakers will be announced at a future date.

In addition to proposals on any aspect of the literatures and cultures of the North American West, the WLA especially encourages panels and papers that explore the following topics:

• Comic books/graphic novels set in the West and/or western comics
• Filmic and televisual representations of the West/western
• Borderlands literature
• Graphic violence, language, and/or sexuality in the West/western
• Texts set in the West, or that take up western themes, that incorporate visual elements or make use of graphic design in their engagement with language
• California writers and texts (Le Guin, Steinbeck, Didion, Mary Austin, John Rollin Ridge, Helen Hunt Jackson, María Ruiz de Burton, etc.)
• Writers and texts that explore California surfing and beach culture
• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Juan Felipe Herrera
• The work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Stephen Graham Jones
We are also open to sessions on teaching and roundtable discussions. Proposals for individual papers must include a 250-word abstract, and proposals for panels and roundtable discussions must include an abstract for each paper or presentation. All submissions must include A/V requests. Proposals can be submitted using the ConfTool link accessible via the conference webpage starting in February 2020. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2020.

Please submit questions to Rebecca M. Lush or Kerry Fine at WLAConference2020@westernlit.org.

Call For Papers: Indigeneity and Disability

Call For Proposals

Disability Studies Quarterly is inviting abstracts for a special issue on disability and Indigenous lives, cultures, and experiences—past, present, and future.

We seek contributions in a range of formats, including personal narratives, fiction, academic articles, photo essays, artworks, book reviews, and community-based history. Co-authored works are warmly welcomed. Projects should engage a broad audience, and use clear and accessible language. Visual contributions such as artworks and photographs should be accompanied by image descriptions.

Contributors are encouraged to consider various themes in relation to Indigeneity and disability, including but not limited to:

Definitions and Concepts

What does it mean to be disabled and Indigenous? What other terms, concepts, and identities are important?
What stories do different Indigenous people, in North America and beyond, share about wide-ranging kinds of bodies and minds?
How do Indigenous concepts of medicine, health, spirituality, community, and justice change, challenge, or enrich the dominant Western narratives of disability and/or Indigeneity?
What can we learn by paying attention to relationships between land, mobility, wellness, and disability?

Teaching, Learning, and Research Practices in Indigenous and Disability Studies

What can we learn from tribal nations about disability and about creating communities that are supportive, caring, and well?
How do we teach Indigenous disability in the school classroom? The university classroom? The community hall?
How do we create accessible, inclusive, Indigenous-centered disability scholarship?
What methods and projects are being developed to help us understand and share Indigenous disability?

Indigeneity and Disability: Pasts, Presents, and Futures

What can we learn by considering the historical and ongoing relationship between Indigenous peoples, colonial violence, ableism, and disability?
What does the intersection of Indigenous disability, the education system, and the incarceration system look like through time? What can be hoped for?
How does history relate to current movements around health, land, and sovereignty, such as Idle No More, Standing Rock, and the Indigenous Environmental Network?
What does a just future look like with regard to disability and Indigenous peoples?

Please send a 250-word proposal to Susan Burch (sburch@middlebury.edu) by May 15, 2020 for consideration in this special issue. In your proposal please address the following:

What is your own relationship to the project? How will your project contribute meaningfully to the communities that intersect with your project?
What specifically is your contribution about? What story are you going to tell? What ideas are you going to share?
What format will you use for the project? (for example: personal narratives, fiction, academic articles, photo essays, and community-based history)
What is important about your project’s questions, arguments, findings, and/or sources?
Avoid jargon and clearly define special terminology. Indicate directly how your project will be accessible to a wide audience.

Contributors with written work should plan for their finished works to be between 750 and 2500 words (excluding citations). If your project is of a different length or format please note this directly in your proposal.

Relevant dates/ TIMELINE:

May 15, 2020: Submit abstract to Susan Burch: sburch@middlebury.edu

July 17, 2020: Prospective authors notified of proposal status

January 10, 2021: Full versions of selected contributions due to editors

CFP: Indigenous Modernities and Modernisms

The CFPs below are for a series of panels for this year’s Modernist Studies Association Conference in Toronto on October 17-20.
Indigenous Modernities and Modernisms
Marshall Berman’s description of modernity in All That is Solid Melts Into Air applies to no one so fully as to Indigenous communities impacted by over 500 years of global imperialism. Indigenous peoples experienced sweeping change across all aspects of life on a scale and with an intensity unparalleled in Europe and England, or among settler populations around the world. Longstanding, place-based lifeways suddenly became “traditions” set against the juggernaut of the new, and a ruthless version of history that consigned Indigenous peoples to the past reframed diverse nation-peoples as “primitive,” “primordial,” “antiquated,” and in all cases “vanishing” … despite the ongoing presence and resistance of Native peoples across modernity. Looking east from Indian Country, a version of the alienation and disorientation so eloquently chronicled by Kafka, Stein, Céline, Eliot and others was amplified exponentially in terms of intensity, consequences, and lasting impacts for Indigenous nations, peoples, and lands.
Given such hyper-intensive experiences of modernity, differently configured and experienced in diverse times and locales around the world, how did Indigenous writers, artists, intellectuals, and cultural producers respond? Facing the racialized discourses of modernist “tradition” and “authenticity,” in what ways and across what venues, mediums, genres, and forms did Indigenous creatives place what Scott Lyons calls their own “x-marks” on modernity? What writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, performers, radio personalities, and intellectuals have even the expanded parameters of the New Modernist Studies still not taken into account? Understood in one sense as aesthetic responses to the “anxieties” of modernity, what ideas of modernism, modernity, and “the modern” have emerged from this 500-year maelstrom of chaos, change, dislocation, resistance, resilience, and resurgence? If the history of modernity is also the history of imperialism and ongoing settler colonialism, how might an honest, sustained engagement with Indigenous modernisms and modernities—however defined—transform the field’s terms, scope, and objects of study?
Send 250-word abstracts to Kirby Brown (kbrown@uoregon.edu) by 4 March 2019.
The recent “global” turn in modernist studies has helped us begin to rethink what it might mean to encounter multiple modernisms on their own terms. There is no question that it has been salutary for the field, even as it has generated a plethora of new challenges and difficult questions. Among those is how the drive for a global – even planetary – conceptions of modernism and modernity collide with the incredible diversity of Indigenous peoples and their specific histories and cultural practices? How does global modernism link to petro-capitalist exploitations of Indigenous lands and peoples? How do modernist notions of cosmopolitanism map onto or contravene long-standing Indigenous patterns of trans-/international exchange? Is the expansion of modernism anything more than the offer of an exchange of prestige (the ‘modernist’ label) for postcolonial/settler colonial credibility and recognition? And at what potential expense (or benefit) for ongoing and often violent struggles over Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and futurity? Is it possible to conceive of transnational, geo, global, or planetary modernisms that are not already compromised by imperialism or (settler) colonialism? And how might substantive engagements with Indigenous and Settler Colonial studies provide potential avenues to begin addressing such questions?
Send 250-word abstracts to Beth Piatote (piatote@berkeley.edu) by 4 March 2019.
Representing Indigeneity in Modernism
From Juan Rulfo to Joseph Conrad, from Solomon Plaatje to Albert Wendt, and from Tayeb Salih to Pramoedya Ananta Toer, modernist writers make widely varied uses of Indigenous characters in their novels. At the same time, Indigenous writers of the period—from Simon Pokagon, E. Pauline Johnson, Alexander Posey, and Zitkala-Sa to Charles Eastman, John Joseph Mathews, Mourning Dove, and D’Arcy McNickle—deliver powerful critiques of euroamerican “character” across a wide array of genres and forms. Read together, how are such figures variously represented, and what can we learn about modernist politics from those representations? If understood as figurative contact zones, how can we understand the nature of the encounters they record? Are there salient differences in how European, English, or American writers represent Indigenous populations, versus how Indigenous writers represent themselves or their euroamerican counterparts? Are most such representations tied inextricably to the imperialist ideologies still thriving in the early twentieth century, or are there avant-garde, experimental, and/or Indigenous-centered approaches that fundamentally disrupt the logics and politics of imperialist-colonialist expansion? What might such representations have to teach us about the apparently inextricable link between modernism and imperialism?
Send 250-word abstracts to Stephen Ross (saross@uvic.ca) by 4 March 2019.

Wallace Stegner and the Changing American West (CFP)

Wallace Stegner and the Changing American West:

Reimagining Place, Region, Nation, and Globe in an Era of Instability

-A Call for Papers and Other Creative Work-

Center for Western Lands and Peoples

Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies

College of Letters and Science / Montana State University, Bozeman

By the time of his death, Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) had become the epitome of the politically engaged western American writer able to express himself across a range of genres, from fiction to history, autobiography, and essays. In books such as The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wolf Willow, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, Angle of Repose (Pulitzer Prize), and The American West as Living Space, Stegner brought to life and illuminated the West like few other authors. Of uppermost concern to Stegner were issues of transiency and community, landscape quality and degradation, family life, the importance of place, and the need for ways of living that foster stable social bonds and stable economies within the realities and constraints of western environments.

Twenty-five years after his passing and on the eve of the 110th year of his birth, we seek to assess the state of the North American West and its study through the lens of Stegner’s life, work, and legacy. We invite proposals for essays that revisit and reinterpret Stegner, but more broadly, we welcome proposals for work that reconsiders and reimagines Stegnerian themes and issues in light of the political, economic, and ecological tumult of our times. We seek insights from across disciplines, genres, and forms. Although we emphasize the written word, we seek contributions from the visual arts as well. What aspects of Stegner’s life and work have enduring value? How do contemporary issues of Indigenous sovereignty, gender inequality and feminism, immigration, the status of refugees, extreme economic disparities, and changes to the Earth System, especially global warming, alter our understanding of the West and the ways that Stegner envisioned it? How might our efforts to grapple with these issues compel us to reimagine the western past? How might Stegner and his work—critiqued, revised, updated—help us negotiate our unsettled present and point us toward alternative futures?

Contributions selected for this project will be presented at workshops and public events at Montana State University, May 9-11, 2019, and will be edited and included in an anthology of essays and illustrations. Please send 300-word abstracts to westernlandsandpeoples@montana.edu by November 5, 2018.

Mark Fiege (mark.fiege@montana.edu)

Professor of History

Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies

Montana State University


Susan Kollin (susan.kollin@montana.edu)

Professor of English

Director, Center for Western Lands and Peoples

Montana State University


Mary Murphy (mmurphy@montana.edu)

Professor of History

Co-Director, Center for Western Lands and Peoples

Montana State University

Conference Registration Open

Registration for the 2018
Western Literature Association
conference on
Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States
is now open!

Click the green link below to register at the ConfTool site.

Register at ConfTool Now
The conference registration deadline is September 24. Late fees ($25 for registration and $5 for meals) will apply after that date.

For more information about the conference, click on the link to go to the full description of Western Literature Association Conference 2018.

Percival Everett Society Conference (CFP)

Percival Everett: theory, philosophy and fiction

organized by the ERIAC Research Center (ED 4705)

at the University of Rouen

on May 2ndand 3rd 2019

Percival Everett’s work has been delighting its readers with engaging plots, rich with suspense and surprises. The diverse gallery of his characters offers many an opportunity for sympathy, identification, empathy, criticism, amusement or estrangement. One of the feats achieved in Everett’s work consists in blending sometimes complex theoretical and philosophical backgrounds into his (breath-)taking plots, thus granting further degrees of satisfaction to the attentive readers. The extra layers thus admitted into the reading experience, variously perceptible according to the readers, contribute to the singularity of Everett’s style. Despite the variety in genres, tones and topics from one book to another, all are marked by such tension between realism and theory, illusion and metafiction, all happily resolved in Everett’s unique literary pieces.

Theory and more specifically philosophy feed his narratives, and visibly appear through quotations, of authors’ names, words and sentences, and inform the structures of his novels and stories. Literary criticism, its excesses and deviations are targeted in erasure, for instance, through a parody of S/Zand the absurd behavior of the representatives of the Nouveau Romansociety, as well as in Glyph, in which Roland Barthes is given the part of an inveterate seducer. Mathematics and more precisely logics widely inform Everett’s work, as perceptible in Glyphfor instance, through baby-genius Ralph’s calculations and speculations. Percival Everett by Virgil Russellincludes mathematical formulae (pp.127, 129), refers to Russell, while mathematical symbols even offer their structures to the title of Everett’s poetry collection Re: f(gesture).

Many a passage throughout Everett’s works consists in playful logical arguing, as ironically emphasized through numerous logical links and markers. Dialogues especially bring out the ambiguities and logical discrepancies in communication, hence the numerous opportunities for misunderstanding. At the heart of such playful dialogues, sometimes verging on the absurd, Everett’s studies in Language Philosophies pervade his whole oeuvre, partly turning it into a playfield. The great names of Language Philosophies run throughout his work: Wittgenstein, Austin, White, Russell, Frege appear in GlyphThe Water CurePercival Everett by Virgil Russell, to name but a few. According to Everett himself, fiction allows one to try out language structures much more efficiently –and enjoyably-than in readymade, artificial dialogues, disconnected from any actual situation or context. Yet in his fiction many a dialogue, in its forms and structures, is redolent with those artificial test samples, as in The Water CurePercival Everett by Virgil RussellI Am Not Sidney Poitier, with its ontological quiz set by the protagonist’s first name, “Not Sidney”.

More generally Everett’s whole oeuvre abounds in puns, jokes and witticisms. Overtly or more insidiously the many ways in which language escapes its user’s control are being explored, to enhance the infinite possibilities for ambiguity, misunderstanding and creativity offered by language. The distorted passages in The Water Cure bring to the fore the vulnerability of meaning and language while exposing some of the main principles upon which reading and communication rely, mostly anticipation, thus opening ways for prejudice to deviate the speaker’s/writer’s originally intended meaning. Such wide philosophical questions are raised in Everett’s work, through both its topics and forms, with the question of responsibility looming in the background, so to speak, as well as that of the canon and more largely of norms.

Some of the following questions may be pursued:

How do theory and philosophy inform Everett’s narratives in their topics and structures, at the macro- and micro-levels both? How does such massive presence inflect the nature and definition of fiction, allowing for a renewal of the genre? What is the specific part played by metafiction in his work? How does it contribute to blur the limits between tones, genres and possibly art forms while questioning the very creative process? More largely, the emphasis may be laid on the making of books, and the various sources of inspiration flowing into them.   To what extent and in what ways do Everett’s writing and painting relate, and what forms does the quest for abstraction take in each? What can narrative and fiction in general bring to the theoretical and philosophical fields?

Alain Badiou has emphasized the necessity to reconsider the relationships between philosophy and art at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, after the didactic, Romantic and classical schemes have proved to no longer be able to define the relations between art and philosophy. Badiou’s concept of “inesthétique” may offer an angle of approach of the specific place of philosophy in Everett’s art: “By ‘unaesthetic’ I mean a specific way for philosophy to relate to art, itself understood as a source of truths, so that philosophy in no way claims to take art as an object of philosophical study. Against aesthetic speculation unaesthetics describes the strictly internal philosophical effects generated by the independent existence of a few artworks.”[1]

Indeed the reflection carried out in common during the conference may keep as an aim the attempt to bring forth some of the truths produced by Everett’s work, or at least some of the main phenomena observable in the work, as related to our perception of and being in the world. Among them, one may try to highlight both “the ambivalent role and the absolute singularity of the literary fact” (Jean-François Favreau, Vertige de l’écriture, 8), as well as its subversive power. Indeed Everett’s work brings to the fore the nature of the artistic writing as resistance, according to Foucault’s view of literature as “some kind of monster as well as a resource, but also as a formidable resistance”, the “permanence of some subterranean trend in Western thought that has been kept aside by the ruling order” (Favreau, 9). The conference will ultimately have as one of its ambitions to explore the complex interactions between the canon and the margins, creative practice and critical thought, art and philosophy.

Abstracts should be sent to Anne-Laure Tissut (altissut@yahoo.fr) by September 30th2018

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