WLA 2018 Conference Update (and deadline extension)

Dear WLA Members,

We hope summer is treating you well, and we look forward to welcoming you to St. Louis in October! To that end, we want this conference to be open to as many as possible, so we are extending the proposal deadline to July 1, 2018.

Understanding Our Place: Conference Proposals, Conference Theme, Conference Site

St. Louis’s Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was initiated. Along with the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, the Old Courthouse comprises the Gateway Arch National Park (which, until 2018, was called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial). The linkage of these sites is a reminder of the intricate relations between U.S. imperialism and histories of enslavement.

Please submit proposals for individual papers and complete sessions to ConfTool. Remember that ConfTool accounts don’t carry over from year to year, so if you haven’t created a 2018 account, you must do so before you submit your proposal. Remember that we welcome critical and creative writing proposals on any aspect of literature and culture of the North American West—but we’re also happy to receive submissions that tie to this year’s conference theme: “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States.”

The Saint Louis Art Museum is housed in the only World’s Fair building—the “Palace of Fine Arts”—designed to be permanent.

The 2018 conference will be held at the historic Chase Park Plaza hotel, constructed in 1922, located in the city’s Central West End neighborhood. The Central West End was home to some of St. Louis’s most well-known writers: T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, and William S. Burroughs, for example, all lived in the neighborhood. Today, it is a walkable area teeming with restaurants and shops, including the independent bookstore Left Bank Books. It is also adjacent to St. Louis’s 1,300-acre Forest Park, the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (which popularized the ice cream cone and Dr. Pepper as it celebrated U.S. imperialism), and today the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum.

Chase Hotel (early 1920s), by W.C. Persons. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

As a site for jazz-age partygoing among well-heeled St. Louisans, our conference site was featured on the front page of the New York Times on January 2, 1923, when an article described a riot that ensued when federal agents sent to enforce prohibition law raided the “fashionable Hotel Chase” on New Year’s Eve. A “barrage of chairs, glassware, plates, knives and forks were hurled promiscuously,” the Times noted. “Women became hysterical” while the “rumpus was in swing” until the “officers retreated.” “One woman,” a police sergeant reported, “had me by the collar as we were leaving.”

We can’t promise that level of excitement, but we can promise an exceptional conference line-up that examines the literature and culture of the North American West from creative and challenging angles, asking critical questions about what constitutes region and role it has played in shaping culture, identity, and power.

Looking Forward to the Program: Special Events and Guests

These questions, of course, can be seen animating the work of our Distinguished Achievement Award winners in both creative writing and criticism: Percival Everett and José E. Limón.

Everett’s 2015 short story collection, Half an Inch of Water, based in Wyoming, “paints a vibrant picture of the West that layers itself subtly but assertively over the prevailing mythos of the lonely white cowboy,” according to a review in the Los Angeles Times.

Percival Everett counts among his many accolades two Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction. He is the author of around 30 books, many set in the American West. These include the parodic genre western God’s Country, as well as Suder, Walk Me to the Distance, Watershed, Wounded, Assumption, and the recent short story collection, Half an Inch of Water. No contemporary African American author has represented the black western experience in such extensive, nuanced, and complex ways. Everett is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

José E. Limón’s American Encounters requires we consider—perhaps now more urgently than ever—the following vision: “I wish to imagine the possibilities of a transformation of [the relationship between Greater Mexico and the United States], so that all children who live today along the Texas border can once again enjoy the waters of the Rio Grande—so that all of the children of Greater Mexico and the United States may play along the border and beyond, carrying their Mexico and their United States within them, . . . crossing this frontier at their pleasure, in equality, and in a peaceful and plentitudinous light of day” (José E. Limón, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture [Boston: Beacon Press, 1999], 6).

José E. Limón is the Notre Dame Foundation Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the Mody C. Boatright Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. His interdisciplinary work brings together literature, anthropology, and folklore in studies of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Greater Mexico, and American regions and nations broadly conceived. Among his books are Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas, Mexican Ballads, Chicano Poems: History and Influence in Mexican American Social Poetry, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture, and Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique. He is currently working on a book titled Neither Friends, Nor Strangers: Mexicans and Anglos in the Literary Making of Texas.

The plenaries by these Distinguished Achievement Award winners, while certainly the centerpiece of our conference, are not the only events of note.

Mural at Ponderosa Steakhouse, W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO. 2014. 6’x8′. Image courtesy of COCA—Center of Creative Arts. Photo © Michael Kilfoy.

On our opening night, we will be screening and discussing the film Whose Streets?, which documents the activism that grew from the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, Jr., in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. This will be followed by a discussion moderated by Jonathan Smith, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at Saint Louis University and a scholar of African American literature.

During the conference, we will hear from Teresa McKenna, a foundational scholar in Chicana feminist studies and Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Southern California, who will read from her memoir.

We will learn about the possibilities of public humanities collaborations from Sara L. Schwebel, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, who has collaborated with Channel Islands National Park on a digital humanities project for K-12 teaching organized around the children’s book Island of the Blue Dolphins and the indigenous woman, whose isolation due Spanish colonial policies of reducción and trade, inspired it. Professor Schwebel’s talk will lead nicely into presentations by the WLA/Charles Redd Center K-12 Teaching Award winners on Saturday.

 

East St. Louis poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmon will read from and speak about his work at the 2018 WLA Past-President’s lunch.

We will also engage local borders when we hear from poet, scholar, and activist Eugene B. Redmond during the Past-President’s lunch on Thursday. Dr. Redmond, along with fellow East St. Louisan Katherine Dunham and St. Louisan Maya Angelou, was an architect of the Black Arts Movement in the region. From his earliest poetry, Redmond has been a place-based poet. A poem titled “Carryover,” for example, which he read at East St. Louisan Miles Davis’s funeral, proclaims, “I have been tattooed for life: / A thought called EAST SAINT LOUIS / Is etched on each Island of my Brain.” “EAST SAINT LOUIS will rise!” It “Will rise from the muddy gutty Mississippi. / Will rise disguised as AFRICA” (in Gerald Early, “Ain’t But a Place”: An Anthology of African American Writings about St. Louis [St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1998], 481).

The ancestral Mississippian city of Cahokia is directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Monks Mound, pictured here, is the largest structure on the site and is the largest earthen mound north of Mexico. St. Louis was once nicknamed “Mound City,” but today only one mound within the city limits has escaped destruction: Sugarloaf Mound, which was purchased by the Osage Nation in 2009. The tribe hopes to preserve the mound and develop an interpretive center to teach St. Louisans about their city’s history from an indigenous perspective.

We’re terribly excited for the Friday plenary, “A Reading for the Mound Builders” organized by Chadwick Allen, and featuring writers LeAnne Howe, Phillip Carroll Morgan, and Allison Hedge Coke. This will dovetail with a planned Saturday excursion to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, the center of the largest pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico.

Candice Ivory, the “Queen of Avant Soul,” will perform at the 2018 WLA banquet.

And we’re delighted to be honoring the WLA’s 2018 award winners at the banquet on Friday night, where the “Queen of Avant Soul,” the fabulous Candice Ivory, will be joining us to perform. Today a St. Louisan, but with roots in Memphis, Tennessee, Ivory is immersed in the gospel, blues, jazz, and soul traditions of both places. We let her know that the WLA likes to dance!

In Closing, In Friendship, In Appreciation

If it wasn’t clear from the above, we are delighted to share this conference with you, our dear colleagues and friends, who have done so much to push our field in new and exciting directions. This is a preview of what’s in store—but there’s even more to come!

Most importantly, of course, is the tremendous compendium of critical and creative work on the North American West by you—the membership. So please do submit any remaining proposals by July 1, 2018. Thank you for all your contributions—we cannot do this conference, and we cannot do our work in western literature, in all its diversity, without you.

Best wishes,

Michael and Emily

Your 2018 WLA Co-Presidents

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CFP (ASLE Symposium)

Call for Papers

The Heart of the Gila:

Wilderness and Water in the West

Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)

2016 Off-Year Symposium, June 8-11, 2016

Western New Mexico University

Silver City, NM

asle.wnmu.edu

Deadline Extended to March 15, 2016

Letting our location be our guide in focusing the theme, the Gila Wilderness was established as the nation’s first wilderness area 91 years ago and continues to define our regional identity. The Gila River remains the last free-flowing river in the Southwest, but there is a current proposal in the state legislature to dam the river; local activists have been organizing to fight the proposal. Drought, compounded by climate change, has greatly affected our area, with the largest fire in New Mexico state history occurring in the Gila during 2012.  The Gila was the northernmost region of the Mogollon People a millennium ago, and our region remains very culturally diverse with its close proximity to the Mexican-U.S. border.

We invite papers, roundtables, presentations, creative work, video presentations, and discussions from a range of disciplines and academic backgrounds that explore the past present, and future of wilderness, mythology of the West, Old West, New West, water, drought, climate change, desert, wastelands, atomic testing sites, military and western space, rivers, dams, tourism, fire, forest management, native cultures, migrant cultures, borders, activism, rhetoric of place, writers of place, writers of the West and Southwest (Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, too many to name), wilderness philosophy, and diversity in the West. We invite participants to interpret the theme broadly. We especially welcome creative writers, activists, graduate students, and academics working in the humanities and beyond to consider submitting to the symposium.

Symposium sessions will be 90-minutes long. Both scholarly and creative submissions are welcome. Pre-formed panels are encouraged.

  • proposals for pre-formed panels must include at least four presentations (papers, readings, provocations, responses, etc.), 15 minutes-max each, plus a chair; panel organizers must submit the proposal on behalf of all panelists (500 word abstract for the panel outlining topic, format, participants’ roles; 300 word abstract for each contribution as relevant to the format; all contact information)
  • proposals for panels may also include roundtables (five or six 10 minute-max presentations plus discussion)
  • individual paper/reading/performance submissions are for 15 minute presentations; 300 word abstracts should describe both form and content and include all contact information

Please submit your proposal by March 15, 2016 on-line at asle.wnmu.edu. We will notify you of its final status by March 21, 2016.

 For questions about submissions, the program, the symposium site, or field trips, please contact the symposium organizer Dr. Michaelann Nelson at Michaelann.Nelson@wnmu.edu.

Plenary Speakers

Our list of invited speakers includes writers and scholars that are inspired by the people, culture, and landscape of our region in the Southwest.

  • David Gessner is the author of nine books, including All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West, as well as, My Green Manifesto, and The Tarball Chronicles, which won the 2012 Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment and ASLE’s award for best book of creative writing in 2011 and 2012.
  • Sharman Russell, author of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World (WILLA Award Winner), as well as a dozen other books, writes primarily about nature and the southwest. She makes her home in the Gila.
  • Dave Foreman, founder of the direct action environmental group EarthFirst!, has written several books, including Confessions of an Eco-Warrior and Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. He is currently the director of the Rewilding Institute, a think tank dedicated to promoting conservation and species extinction.
  • Lucy Tapahonso, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, and author of several books of poetry, including The Women are Singing and Blue Horses Rush In. Her poetry is inspired by the idea that the feminine is a source of balance and power in the world.
  • Priscilla Ybarra, author of The Good Life: Mexican American Writing and the Environment. Dr. Ybarra’s work investigates Mexican American literature and environmental issues. She is a professor of English at the University of North Texas.
  • Phillip Connors, author of Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout (National Outdoor Book Award, Sigurd Olsen Nature Writing Award), has spent the last decade as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. He previously was an editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Travel Awards

We will offer ten awards of $250 each to graduate students and independent scholars to help defray the cost of attending the symposium. Information on how to apply can be found on the website.

Symposium Location

Western New Mexico University is a diverse, public, regional university with about 3,500 students. Silver City is located in southwestern New Mexico at 6,000 feet elevation. It is the gateway to the Gila National Wilderness Area, the United States’ first wilderness area, as well as Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument. It is known for its vibrant art community, locavore food scene, and all-around funky downtown. It has been recently named one of the top 20 small towns to visit by Smithsonian Magazine.

CFP: Teaching Western American Literature

CFP: Teaching Western American Literature

We invite submissions for a proposed collection of essays on teaching western American literature. If, as scholars and teachers of Western literatures and cultures, we regularly share our research, we perhaps do not as often get the chance to share new and innovative strategies for teaching courses or individual works in Western studies. Our volume seeks to fill this gap by offering a range of essays on teaching Western literatures and cultures that will appeal to specialists and non-specialists, faculty and graduate students, and experienced and inexperienced instructors alike. We are particularly interested in critically, historically, and theoretically informed essays that address practical aspects of course, assignment, and/or curricular design and that offer pioneering (or tried-and-true) strategies and approaches to specific pedagogical issues, subfields, classroom technologies, secondary or supplementary materials, authors, and texts. We also welcome essays that offer strategies for bringing Western literary and cultural studies and courses into the broader disciplines of literary and cultural studies.

Possible essay topics include approaches to teaching:

• Indigenous writing of and about the west
• Pre-1900 western literature and chronological definitions of western literature
• Gender, feminism, and queer approaches to western literature
• Western literatures as counter-histories
• Borders, frontiers, and geographical definitions of the west
• Place, identity, and critical regionalism
• Westerns and the post-west
• Visual culture and images of the west
• Literature and environment
• Western Studies and Disability Studies
• Racial, ethnic, and religious difference in western literature
• The west in local, national, and global contexts
• Teaching western literature to millennial students, veterans, and first-generation college students

250-500 word proposals should be sent to the editors by May 1, 2016. For those asked to contribute to the collection, we anticipate that completed essays of approximately 20 pages (MLA formatting) will be due by Nov. 15, 2016.

Randi Tanglen
Department of English
Austin College
Sherman, TX 75090
teachingwesternliterature@gmail.com

Brady Harrison
Department of English
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
teachingwesternliterature@gmail.com

 

WLA at ALA (CFP)

The Western Literature Association will sponsor two sessions at this year’s American Literature Association meeting (http://americanliteratureassociation.org/…/annual-conferen…/), scheduled to meet May 26-29 in San Francisco, CA. This is a general call for papers or panels on topics related to western American literature. Of particular interest are papers on periodical culture and/of/in the West, but all topics will be considered. If you’re interested in presenting on a WLA-sponsored panel, please submit to Nic Witschi <nwitschi@westernlit.org> a paper proposal (title and a brief abstract) no later than Sunday 24 January. If you’re interested in proposing a complete session, please let Nic know ASAP.

 

From the President (WLA 2016)

Greetings! As host of the 2016 Western Literature Association Conference, which will take place in Big Sky, Montana, September 21-24, 2016, I invite you to consider giving a paper, organizing a session, or attending for the sheer pleasure of discovering all the intriguing and exciting work being done in western literary studies. The theme for this year’s conference is “The Profane West.” (Please see the CFP for a fuller discussion of the theme: it isn’t just swearing.) Be brave, be bold!

This year’s conference returns to Big Sky, MT. The resort is located between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, one of the popular gateways to Yellowstone National Park. Lean more about the resort here: http://bigskyresort.com. Fall in Montana is usually gorgeous, with warm days and cool nights, but last time we were at Big Sky, it snowed! Whatever the weather, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most specular scenery in the West, with numerous dining opportunities and much to occupy your time in addition to the conference. For those of you (there must be some, including me!) who don’t itch to get outside in the grandeur, Big Sky has a spa as well as plenty of places to relax into the quiet.

Big Sky is a tourist destination: that means good food, a chance to buy a mink or diamonds while you’re here, and copious displays of wealth. It’s also a hard-working town, with its own school district, medical center, a distillery, and plenty of friendly people. Consider coming before the conference or staying after it’s done and enjoying yourself at your own pace. It’s worth noting that Big Sky is about a 45-minute drive from Bozeman; shuttle busses will be arranged to take you to the lodge and return you to the airport, but if you’re an explorer, you may want to rent a car. More details, maps, and deals on transportation to come.

We’ve blocked an assortment of rooms (from standard rooms to suites to lofts that accommodate 2-8 guests, with room rates ranging from $149 to $289 plus tax) for the conference, so there’s much for you to choose from.

Conference highlights and details are being arranged, but here are some of the planned events that have me beyond excited about hosting you:

Our Distinguished Achievement Award Winner is Maxine Hong Kingston. Ms. Kingston is Professor Emerita at UC Berkeley, and she is the author of many books, including The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts, China Men, and Tripmaster Monkey. Her blazingly brave and original work has earned numerous awards, including the National Book Award, PEN West Achievement Award, and the National Medal of Arts. Ms. Kingston will be attending with her husband Earll, and she will be giving an address at the conference.

For our opening night activity, we anticipate screening Winter in the Blood, with a discussion featuring the directors Andrew Smith and Alex Smith to follow. James Welch’s powerful novel-turned-film was the Official Selection in 2013 of the Los Angeles, Austin, and American Indian film festivals.

We’re also at work developing a new component of the conference that will welcome and support secondary school teachers in their work teaching western American literature. More detail on that in coming months.

Our annual awards dinner will take place Friday evening, and the dance, featuring the popular local western/honky tonk/all around good dancing band, Little Jane and the Pistol Whips will keep us dancing through the evening.

For other entertainment and down-time fun, there will be a Saturday tour bus to Yellowstone National Park. Alan Weltzien has committed to leading a hike on Saturday for interested fitness buffs. Big Sky also offers zip lining, hiking, and other activities that can be booked individually or in small groups. (I plan to zip line and then get a massage!)

I’ll provide more details as we get closer to the event. But just a few last reminders:

  • Paper and session proposals are due June 1, 2016. This is earlier than usual, so please take note.
  • We will be using ConfTool as the registration software, and we will have appropriate keywords to identify submissions for various awards.

Welcome to 2016 WLA at Big Sky, Montana! I can’t wait to see you there!

Linda Karell
Montana State University

Western Literature Association 2015 Conference in Tweets

Embedded image permalink

Arigon Starr plays air guitar at the WLA dangerous dance last night

  • Great job , I’m thinking more about cities, Vlautin, and women writing the west. See you in Big Sky!

  • “We work in collaboration with each other and with the cosmos.” –LeAnne Howe

Oct 15

  • keywords session “sovereignty in five minutes or the impossibility of this paper.”

CFP: Clint Eastwood’s Films

CALL FOR PAPERS

For a third collection of essays on the films of Clint Eastwood.

Please submit a 1 page proposal as soon as possible, but no later than September 15 to
wanat@ohio.edu  or  len.engel@quinnipiac.edu

Len Engel, CAS—1, Quinnipiac University &

Matt Wanat, University of Ohio

15 page papers due Jan 15, 2016.  Preference will be given to proposals that deal with Eastwood’s films

not covered in the previous collections and his films appearing since 2012.  Please see below the Table of Contents for the two previous collections.

(If you intend to send a proposal, please send a short note, within the next day  or two, indicating that.)

Clint Eastwood, Actor and Director:  New Perspectives (2007)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1–“Feminism and the Limits of Genre in Fistful of Dollars and The Outlaw Josey Wales” Brett Westbrook, St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas

Chapter 2–“A Fistful of Anarchy: Clint Eastwood’s Character in Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy and in His Four ‘Own’ Westerns Beyond” David Cremean, Black Hills University, Spearfish, South Dakota.

Chapter 3 —“Irony as Absolution” Matt Wanat, Mayville State Universtiy, North Dakota.

Chapter 4—“’One hang, we all hang’: High Plains Drifter” Richard Hutson, University of California, Berkeley

Chapter 5—“Mocking Success in Every Which Way But Loose” Leger Grindon, Middlebury College, Vermont,

Chapter 6—“Subverting Shane:  Ambiguities in Eastwood’s Politics in Fistful of Dollars,High Plains Drifter, and Pale Rider” Stephen McVeigh, University of Wales Swansea.

Chapter 7—-“’All on Accounta Pullin’ a Trigger’:  Violence, the Media, and the Historical Contextualization of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven” Brad Klypchak, Lon Morris College, Jacksonville, Texas.

Chapter 8—The Machinery of Violence:  Clint Eastwood talks about Unforgiven” John C. Tibbetts, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Chapter 9—“Clint Eastwood’s Western Films and the Evolving Mythic Hero” Fred Erisman, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth.

Chapter 10—“Narrative Pacing and the Eye of the Other in The Bridges of Madison County” Raymond Foery, Quinnipiac University.

Chapter 11—-“The Old Man and the C: Masculinity and Age in the Recent Films of Clint Eastwood” Walter Metz, Montana State University, Bozeman.

Chapter 12—“Mystical Moral Miasma in Mystic River” Dennis Rothermel, California State University, Chico.

Chapter 13—“Million Dollar Baby:  The Deep Heart’s Core” John M.Gourlie, Quinnipiac

NEW ESSAYS ON Clint Eastwood (2012)—TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreward, “Why do we turn to Eastwood now?” Drucilla Cornell

One, “Landscape as Moral Destiny:’ Mythic Reinvention from Rowdy Yates to the Stranger,” Robert Smart

Two, “Thoroughly Modern Eastwood: Male/Female Power Relations in The Beguiled and Play Misty for Me,” Brett Westbrook

Three, “Clintus and Siegelini: ‘We’ve got a system. Not much, but we’re fond of it,'” Mike Smrtic and Matt Wanat

Four, “Rawhide to Pale Rider: The Maturation of Clint Eastwood,” Edward Rielly

Five, “Eastwood’s Treatment of the Life of Creativity and Performance in Bronco Billy, Honkytonk Man, White Hunter Black Heart, and Bird,” Dennis Rothermel

Six, “’You Can’t Hunt Alone’: White Hunter Black Heart,”  Richard Hutson

Seven, “The End of History and America First: How the 1990s Revitalized Clint Eastwood,” Craig Rinne

Eight, “A Man of Notoriously Vicious and Intemperate Disposition”: Western Noir and the Tenderfoot’s Revenge in Unforgiven,” Stanley Orr

Nine, “A Good Vintage or Damaged Goods?: Clint Eastwood and Aging in Hollywood Film,” Philippa Gates

Ten, “Space, Pace, and Southern Gentility in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Brad Klypchak

Eleven, “Mystic River as a Tragic Action,” Robert Merrill and John L. Simons

Twelve, “Lies of Our Fathers: Mythology and Artifice in Eastwood’s Cinema,” William Beard

Thirteen, “Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima: The Silence of Heroes and the Voice of History,” John M. Gourlie

Fourteen, “Gran Torino: Showdown in Detroit, Shrimp Cowboys, and A New Mythology,” John M. Gourlie and Leonard Engel

Fifteen, “Invictus: The Master Craftsman as Hagiographer,” Raymond Foery

Sixteen, “Hereafter: Dreaming beyond Our Philosophies,” John M. Gourlie

Seventeen, “Citizen Hoover: Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar,” Richard Hutson and Kathleen Moran