New book on the writing and music of Willy Vlautin – Under the Western Sky edited by Neil Campbell


Under the Western Sky edited by Neil Campbell


“Bringing a sophisticated set of contemporary lenses to bear upon the musical and novel-writing career of Willy Vlautin, Under the Western Sky makes a strong case for Vlautin as a resonant voice in a new kind of West a considerable distance from earlier regional mythologies. In fact, Vlautin emerges as not only a representative, but a central figure whose fictions and songs evoke a series of landscapes—urban, rural, desert—characterized by marginalization, failure, and transience in many forms. Vlautin emerges as a literary son of Raymond Carver, but one who writes in his own voice and for whom music forms a profound and intimate complement to the fiction.”

—O. Alan Weltzien, University of Montana Western

This original collection of essays written by experts in the field weave together the first comprehensive examination of Nevada-born Willy Vlautin’s novels and songs, as well as featuring eleven works of art that accompany his albums and books. Brutally honest, raw, gritty, down to earth, compassionate, and affecting, Willy Vlautin’s writing evokes a power in not only theme but in methodology. Vlautin’s novels and songs chart the dispossessed lives of young people struggling to survive in difficult economic times and in regions of the U.S. West and Pacific Northwest traditionally viewed as affluent and abundant. Yet, as his work shows, these areas are actually highly stratified and deprived.

Featuring an interview with Vlautin himself, this edited collection aims to develop the first serious, critical consideration of the important novels and songs of Willy Vlautin by exploring relations between region, music, and writing through the lens of critical regionality and other interdisciplinary, cultural, and theoretical methodologies.

Neil Campbell is emeritus professor of American Studies at the University of Derby, United Kingdom. He has published several books on American Studies and much of his well-known work covers the New West.

For more information or to order, visit Receive 20% off when you use code UNP20 at checkout.

Paper | 978-1-943859-58-0 | 264 pages | $34.95

(Also available as an Ebook)


International American West Conference

Please find below the CFP for the IV International Conference on the American Literary and Cultural West: The West Travels Beyond Itself: New Spaces, New Voices, New Forms. University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain). 8-10 October 2018.

The IV International Conference on the American Literary and Cultural West, The West Travels Beyond Itself: New Spaces, New Voices, New Forms, organized by the REWEST research group (Research in Western American Literature and Culture,, seeks for papers which expose the contemporary revision and revival of the West and as a literary and cultural form of representation, as well as of its global impact. The Conference will privilege transnational and interdisciplinary approaches aiming to understand the artistic production of  space and a cultural site whose iconography has moved beyond national limits and literary and artistic borders.
The aim of the Conference is to propose a site of debate about the revision and revival of the West as an ideological and cultural concept. We aim at analyzing the new dimensions of the global, multicultural, multicontextual, multidisciplinary 21st century West. In this light, papers can address a variety of issues ranging from (but not only):

– The West travels beyond itself
– The West looks at Europe
– Europe looks at the West
– The influence of the cultural myths of the Old West in the present century
– The new literary voices of the West
– “Other” western narratives
– Environmental literature of the American West
– Reimagining women in the West
– Western masculinities
– Bordercrossing
– Western mythologies
– The American West in popular culture
– The West and its new forms of expression
– New Western music
– New Western cinema
– The West in the arts
– The West and the new digital forms of communication
– The West in television
– The West in comics and graphic novels

Papers should not exceed 2.000-3.000 words (approx. a 20 minute delivery). Although English will be the official language of the Conference, papers in Spanish and Basque will also be accepted.

Please submit your proposal (300 words) plus a brief bio-note (200 words) to the Conference organizers by April 30th, 2018. Proposals should be submitted via e-mail to

2018 Western Literature Association Conference


2018 Western Literature Association Conference

Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States

The 2018 annual conference of the Western Literature Association will take place October 24-27 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States” is derived from this location. This region, at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, has been urban for thousands of years. Cahokia, known for its impressive earthen mounds, is directly across the river from today’s St. Louis, and once housed the largest pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico, a hub for trade, communication, and transportation throughout indigenous North America. Long before St. Louis was known as the “Gateway to the West,” it was nicknamed “Mound City.”

St. Louis is also a borderland, shaped by French, Spanish, and U.S. contact and conquest. With Missouri’s 1821 entry into the nation as a slave state, St. Louis became envisioned as a gateway to western freedom even while it maintained southern bondage. During the Exoduster movement, St. Louis indeed became a gateway to freedom for many African Americans migrating away from postbellum southern oppression. Today St. Louis continues to serve as a microcosm of the United States’s racial histories, and of both stubborn divisions and promising coalitions across lines of race, class, region, and nation. “Indigenous Hubs, Gateway Cities, Border States” is meant to evoke these confluences and crosscurrents.

We welcome proposals on any aspect of the literatures of the North American West, but especially encourage panels and papers that explore the following topics:

St. Louis (or other western places) as Indigenous Hubs, Gateways, or Borderlands

The African American West

Jazz and Blues and the American West

The Art and Literature of Black Lives Matter

St. Louis Freedom Suits

The Work of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Percival Everett

The Critical Legacy of Distinguished Achievement Award Winner José E. Limón


The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2018. Please submit questions to Michael K. Johnson or Emily Lutenski at

For more information, see

Still on Ponderosa

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

Register Now for WLA 2017 Conference


6 July 2017

Dear WLA Presenters and Members:

Boozhoo! Hello from the land of 10,000 lakes!

Registration for the WLA 2017 conference in the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, MN is now open! Early registration ends September 20, 2017, so please try to save yourselves some money!  Note to registrants: guest status means spouse, partner, sibling, grandparent—anyone coming along to be your cheerleader or to enjoy the Twin Cities while you are involved with WLA business. Guest status does not refer to a WLA member who is not presenting a paper.

We are excited to be welcoming you to beautiful Minnesota, a landscape that was first inhabited over 12,000 years ago by the ancestors of our many Native communities. The mighty mythic Mississippi owes its creation to the last Ice Age, and you will be able to explore its banks and falls while visiting Minneapolis. Fort Snelling , built in 1819 as Fort Saint Anthony as one of the first western military outposts, is now a National Historic Site and worth a visit while you attend WLA. The West of WLA begins on the west banks of the Mississippi, and we have a program of nearly 300 presentations to enrich your minds and expand your vision of western North American writers, playwrights, filmmakers, storytellers, poets, and scholars.

We encourage you to come in time for our Wednesday evening kickoff, which features two Minnesota treasures—Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and storyteller Kevin Kling—to get you feeling Minnesota. Other featured writers are Will Weaver, Linda LeGarde Grover, and Heid Erdrich.  Our Distinguished Achievement Award recipient playwright Rick Shiomi will be bringing some actors. We will be announcing an amazing band shortly that adds to the celebration of Minnesota greats!

You can begin your registration process at

Our conference hotel is the Marriott City Center in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Reservations must be made by 26 September 2017 or until the block is full to assure the conference room rate of $150/night. Our group rate is available 3 days prior to and 3 days following the dates of our conference based on availability. When making your reservation, inform the reservation agent that you are receiving the Western Literature Association group rate for your visit. Reservations can be made at:  or  1-877-303-0104.

Once again, WLA has contracted with United Airlines for a 5% discount for WLA members. United has numerous domestic and international flights to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport daily. For your discount, please book online at Use the code ZY5Y175071. MSP also serves all major North American airlines.

We will send ground transportation information later this summer. Travel to and from the airport is easy via light rail. Amtrak also arrives and departs from the beautifully restored Union Station in St. Paul. Light rail then provides ground transportation into downtown Minneapolis as well. Many of you are Uber and Lyfft customers and have that option as well.

We are hard at work on the conference program. As soon as the first program draft is completed, we will put it on the conference website and alert all participants via ConfTool. Please note your two deadlines: September 20, 2017 for early conference registration and September 26, 2017 for your guaranteed hotel group rate.

Miigwech, thank you, WLA colleagues! We look forward to serving as your hosts to the 52nd Annual Conference of the Western Literature Association, 25-28 October 2017.

Your co-presidents,

Florence Amamoto (

Susan Maher (


Reminder:  If you want your conference paper considered for the Manfred award (creative writing) or the Taylor or Grover awards (best grad student papers), please send final copies to us (copy both co-presidents) by Aug. 15.  Grad students wishing to be considered for the Owens awards (to foster diversity), please send application material to Lisa Tatonetti ( by Aug. 15.  More detailed descriptions of WLA awards on the WLA website.

C19 Conference: Climate

C19 Seminars and

proposal submission site

Dear C19 members,

We are delighted to announce the nine seminars that will be featured at the fifth biennial C19 conference, “Climate.” The conference will take place March 22-25, 2018, in Albuquerque, NM, and is hosted by the University of New Mexico.

We are also very glad to say that the conference submission site is now available: We look forward to reading your proposals.

Here are the nine seminar topics and leaders; a full description of each seminar is attached and can be found on our conference website:
1. Childhood Teleologies: Climates of Growth

Seminar Leaders: Anna Mae Duane and Karen Sánchez-Eppler
2. C19 Environmental Humanities

Seminar Leaders: Teresa A. Goddu and William Gleason
3. Pacific Intersections

Seminar Leaders: Hsuan L. Hsu and Paul Lyons
4. Expanding Forms: a Writing Workshop

Seminar Leaders:Sarah Mesle and Sarah Blackwood
5. Dissonant Archives: The History and Writings of Nineteenth Century Afro-Latinas

Seminar Leaders: Nancy Raquel Mirabal and Gema Guevara
6. Performing Citizenship in Hostile Climates

Seminar Leader: Koritha Mitchell
7. In/Civility

Seminar Leaders: Tavia Nyong’o and Kyla Wazana Tompkins
8. Feminist Critical Regionalism and the Climate of Western Literary Studies

Seminar Leaders: Jennifer S. Tuttle and Jean Pfaelzer
9. Indigenous Textualities: Native Americans, Writing, and Representation

Seminar Leader: Hilary E. Wyss, Trinity College
Seminars will provide participants the opportunity to have a collaborative conversation around a particular topic. Seminars will be capped at 15 participants and will be run by co-facilitators with expertise in the topic. Each participant will submit a five-page position paper before the conference to be read in advance by the other participants so that seminar time can be reserved for discussion. Seminar participants will be listed in the program.
We hope to see you in Albuquerque,


Hester Blum, President

Meredith McGill, Vice President

Carrie Tirado Bramen, Program Chair

Alex Black, Program Committee member

Martha Schoolman, Program Committee member

Conference Deadline Extended

Attention WLA Members and Interested Participants: Due to some registration challenges, we are changing the submission due date to July 1, 2017. We don’t want anyone to miss the voyage to Minneapolis! Come to hear writers Linda LeGarde Grover, Kao Kalia Yang, Will Weaver, Joyce Sutphen, Heid Erdrich, and Kevin Kling! Our distinguished achievement honoree is playwright and theater great Rick Shiomi.

Go to the 2017 Western Literature Association Conference page on the WLA website for more information and to submit your proposal.

New Directions in Black Western Studies (CFP)

New Directions in Black Western Studies

Western History Association Conference

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa, San Diego, California

01-04 November 2017


We are seeking proposals for the 57th Western History Association Conference workshop and American Studies Special Issue: “New Directions in Black Western Studies.”

Though several scholarly historical treatments of Blacks in the North American West exist, few engage with what Black Western Studies means in a contemporary context. Over the past decade there has been a return to the west in intellectual and artistic production at a rate not seen since the 1970s. Several critically acclaimed television series, films, music albums, and literary texts are rooted firmly in western historical legacies. Likewise, the relationship between Blackness and western geographical and cultural identity has been explored in various disciplinary genres. From film, music, literature, and art to theatre, architecture, and museum studies, These possibilities drive several questions undergirding this workshop at the 2017 Western History Association Conference.

How do we make sense of conventional westerns and science fiction westerns such as HBO’s Westworld and AMC’s Hell on Wheels that  feature black characters in lead roles, but render the mythic west primarily a “white” space? How do we hear songs that claim the West as a site of a distinct “authentic” black culture? Here, N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” (1988), 2Pac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love” (1996), and Kendrick Lamar’s “Compton” (2012) come to mind. How do musicians conjure up images of the Black West in their lyrics and chords? How do we make sense of memorials and commemorations of Blacks in the West that position their presence as part of frontier exceptionalism? How do we document riots and revolutions in a black western context? How do murals of Black subjects in Western cities serve as correctives to cowboy and pioneer histories of the West?  How have fiction and creative non-fiction writers imagined the Black West in their texts? Is the Black West gendered? What are the boundaries of the Black West? For example, when we include the American Pacific states and western Canadian territories in our understanding of the Black West, how does that open up new avenues for understanding black Western subjectivities?

Papers accepted for the WHA workshop will be vetted for a subsequent special issue of American Studies (AMSJ) on Black Western Studies. For both the workshop and the journal we are interested in what it means to read the North American West as a Black space with varied and deep possibilities.. By this we mean, how the concept of presenting/representing the West is informed by black identities and identity-making, rival geographies tied to black mobility, black culture, black knowledge production, black arts, and black literatures. The WHA workshop and AMSJ special issue  will fill a gap in American Studies by bringing Black Western Studies into current dialogue with other fields of American Studies that focus on the intersections between race, ethnicity, and place/geography. Borderland studies, Canadian Studies, Midwestern Studies, Southern Studies, and Asian/Pacific/American Studies are just a few examples of such fields.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • 21st century Television and Film
  • Reconsidering Public Memorials, Museums, and Historic Preservation
  • Photography
  • Visual Arts (painting, murals, and sculptures)
  • Literatures
  • New Media
  • Music and Song
  • Theatre and Performance
  • Architecture and Built Environment
  • Graphic Novels and Comic Books
  • Gender and/or Sexuality
  • Urban and/or Rural Spaces

Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be emailed to Jeannette Eileen Jones, Kalenda Eaton, and Michael Johnson at by 30 June 2017.

All submissions should include the name of the author, title/position, institution, email address, a short profile, the title of the proposed paper, and the abstract. Once accepted, drafts of complete papers will be due from contributors by 15 September 2017.

Note: Accepted contributors must register for and attend the 2017 Western History Association, which will meet 01-04 November 2017 at the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa, San Diego, CA.

During the conference the accepted contributors and guest editors (Jones, Eaton, and Johnson) will workshop pre-circulated drafts of papers in a closed session for two days (Thursday and Friday). The contributors will present their work in an open session on the last morning (Saturday) of the conference. Please note that all papers MUST go through a blind peer-review process with American Studies (AMSJ) prior to final publication. We expect the special issue to be published in 2018.

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