Truer West (CFP)

American Literature Association Annual Conference, 2013Western Literature Association-affiliated panel

“Truer West: Western American Authenticity Ten Years On”

Ten years after the publication of Nathaniel Lewis’ Unsettling the Literary West: Authenticity and Authorship, western, post-western, and critical regional studies still grapple with the problem of authenticity in the American West. If, as Lewis playfully suggests, the “very struggle over authenticity [is] perhaps the only ‘true’ condition of the western cultural imagination,” then how might this struggle have altered the tone of Western literary and cultural criticism in the last decade? What does the poststructural, postmodern distrust of authenticity do to encourage fresh analyses of texts previously heralded for their authentic portrayals of the West? How do scholars account for this struggle in works that place no claims on authenticity or were once excluded from older paradigms of Western authenticity? Is there even an imagined, authentic West for which these artists struggle? An inauthentic one? Or an a-authentic West?

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

·      Affects, bodies, and authenticity
·      Authenticity and environmental narratives of the West
·      Western pop culture and its use of the authentic
·      Authenticity as commodity or fetish
·      Minority Western narratives and “other” authentic Wests
·      Photography and its (in-)authentic representations of the West
·      Tensions between multiple Wests

Submit a 250-word presentation abstract and brief C.V. to Kiara L. Kharpertian ( and Andrew Husband ( by 20 January 2013. Indicate any A/V requirements.

The American Literature Association’s 24th annual conference will meet at the Westin Copley Place in Boston on May 23-26, 2013 (Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend). For further information, please consult the ALA website at or contact the conference director, Professor Olivia Carr Edenfield via email ( with specific questions.

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