Monday, September 28, 2009

SNOW ON THE WLA (Which is not a mountain)

There’s a rather desperate sounding message from a major figure in the Western Literature Association, which has a conference up-coming in Spearfish, S.D. (see website at begging to be reassured that snow is NOT expected during the conference, Sept. 30 - Oct 3. Too bad. IT IS! This is the WEST, and not just the Southwest. I’m sorry I won’t be attending, but the snow will be attending us here in Valier as well, so I'm in sympathy.

I had not visited the WLA website for a while, partly because in the past it was numbingly dull and mostly relevant for people who got their degrees in Western Lit about 1955 when people talked about Vardis Fisher and McKinley Kantor and no one knew a damn thing about deconstruction -- the concept didn’t exist. Luckily, that particular theory-storm has pretty much passed on after doing its valuable work of tearing up the landscape of scholarship. But this is not your grandpa’s WLA.

Dave Cremean organized this conference and you can tell. It’s people-friendly, including Native American friendly, featuring a Louis Owens award for NA grad students (application on the website) and the actual person of Susan Powers as well as papers on Elizabeth Cook Lynn and Vine Deloria Jr. I rejoice and I’m not making that up.

I stole all the rest of this from Dave’s post on the website. He’s a friend and will not massacre me. Anyway, I have South Dakota credentials: my father was born in a homestead tar paper shack in Faulkton.

44th WLA Conference
in Spearfish, South Dakota:
Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2009

THEME: HIGH PLAINS DRIFTING. The Western Literature Association Conference 2009 will be hosted by McCarthy scholar and outdoor enthusiast Dr. David Cremean.


Would you like a place to network with other WLA graduate students? Just send a Facebook friend request to your Graduate Student Representative, Kerry Fine, and she will send you an invitation to join the Western Literature Association Grad Student Group. There you will be able to access message boards and wall posts in order to share your academic interests with other grad students, post academic inquiries, arrange conference room/ride sharing, and any other thing that you think would supplement your membership in WLA. The group is by invitation only in order to keep the posts and messages limited to its members.

President's Letter of Invitation

May 14, 2009

Dear WLA Members and Friends,

Dave says: I wish to emphasize the following three awards:

1. The Frederick Manfred Award for the best Creative Writing Submission. Please include your full and completed selection as a separate attachment with your title and "abstract." As always, the creative writing itself should be your presentation. Final paper to be submitted no later than August 10.
2. The Louis Owens Award for the Graduate Student presenter(s) "contributing most to cultural diversity in the WLA." Please see the information available on this award and how to apply for it further down on this page. The deadline for the application with the final paper is August 10.
3. The Willa Pilla Award. Though scorned by a few, this stands alone among the most-coveted awards for humor in the world. The Willa Pilla is intended to honor the most humorous presentation of the conference and to highlight the role of humor in western literature. In the spirit of the Pilla, a soon-to-be legendary story about the actual Pilla's early arrival in South Dakota last fall will be coming to a WLA Conference near you. Please note to me in your cover note for your abstract if you would like to be considered for this much-underrated fashion statement of an award.

Speakers and Special Events: My colleague and good friend, Black Hills State's Writer-in-Residence, Kent Meyers will be taking part in the conference as "Mine Host," for those of you who remember the journey of Chaucer's pilgrims and that Tabard Inn. Other speakers I have commitments from include Chuck Bowden (our Keynote), Terri Jentz, Doug and Andrea Peacock, Gary Ferguson, Linda Hasselstrom, Dan O'Brien, Susan Powers (via the SD Humanities Council), Jim Stiles, Alison Hedge Coke, M. John Fayhee, several others, and likely a few surprises. Kent Meyers's new novel, Twisted Tree (Harcourt), is being released to correspond with the conference. Numerous of these guest authors (and several WLA members) are slated to have new releases close to the time of our conference. We almost certainly will be hosting a South Dakota Humanities Council Event on "Writing Deadwood [and/or South Dakota]" with Pete Dexter and Tom Griffith.

We will have a special panel on Indigenous Women of the Northern Plains, emphasizing the diversity of Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Women, from Traditional to Modernized, etc. We will be featuring The Porcupine Singers from Pine Ridge for traditional music and hope to have a group of Lakota dancers along with them. My former department chair, Ronnie Theisz, a Lakota musicologist, will provide contextual and interpretive background about Lakota musicology and dance. Our emphasis for this part of our program will be "True Black Hills Gold."

The South Dakota Festival of the Book will be held in Deadwood on Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, and I am working together with them on sharing a few speakers and on hosting at least one of their sessions at our conference. WLAers are welcome to attend any of the Festival's functions in Deadwood on Friday through Sunday morning; I will include their program in your registration packets.

We are eagerly anticipating David Fenimore's several-faceted homage to the late and lamented Deadwood, entitled something like "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Audience" (sorry, David, I had to crib and invent that) and preformed (another regionalism) by the disclaimed Deadwood Deadend Players (ibid., David). We will be screening one or two films, observing the 20th Anniversary of Edward Abbey's death with a special session, providing a special emphasis on South Dakota's "own" author and director Oscar Micheaux, giving another special emphasis to the 40th anniversary of N. Scott Momaday's Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn, honoring Cormac McCarthy with our Distinguished Achievement Award, and by yiminy and golly, so much more. It appears most likely this will be in absentia, his attendance, in his own words from The Crossing, likely a "doomed enterprise," in contrast to rumors that keep reaching me regularly from WLA members, though I'm still trying.

Louis Owens Awards/Graduate Student Support for Conference Attendance:

The primary goal of the Louis Owens Awards is to build for the future of the Western Literature Association by encouraging diverse graduate student participation at the annual conference through assistance with conference-related expenses including travel and accommodation. While these awards are intended to foster greater cultural diversity within the WLA membership, they are also intended to help broaden—as Louis Owens did—the field of western American literary studies. Therefore, while preference will be given to graduate students who are members of cultural groups currently underrepresented within the WLA—including African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Arab Americans, and Chicano/a Americans—these awards are also open to graduate students of ALL cultural backgrounds.

NOTE: You must be a member of the Western Literature Association to present at the conference. If your proposal is accepted and you are not a member already, you can either join on ONLINE SERVICES or you can join when you pay for registration.

BLESS YOU ALL, BUT ESPECIALLY DAVE CREMEAN! Pack your woolies and git thar!

1 comment:

Gyasi said...

See, I need to learn more about these associations and groups and whatnot.

Thanks Mary!