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Texas Tech to Host Western Literature Association Conference

The four-day event will attract hundreds of authors, professors and students from around the country.

Written by Lindsay Bradshaw

Sara Spurgeon

Sara Spurgeon

The 47th annual Western Literature Association (WLA) Conference will be held Nov. 7-10 at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center and English Building of Texas Tech University.

The conference, hosted by Sara Spurgeon, associate professor of literatures of the American Southwest at Texas Tech, will offer support and opportunities for graduate students.

A reception celebrating the 20th birthday of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) will start the conference from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday. A reading and book signing with American journalist and author Annie Proulx will follow.

“The reception will be an informal celebration of the ASLE and the Western Literature Association, and will involve appetizers, birthday cake for 100 people and the unveiling of ASLE’s new logo,” Spurgeon said.

The rest of the conference will entail the following events:

Thursday, Nov. 8

  • Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE) Readers Series – 11 a.m.; Barry Lopez, National Book Award winning nature author of “Of Wolves and Men” and “Arctic Dreams,” will read at the Overton.
  • “Wasteland Utopias” screening – 4 p.m.; Avant-garde filmmaker David Sherman will screen his 2010 documentary in English 001, followed by the opening reception for the new exhibit of Southwestern artists in coordination with the conference at the Landmark Arts Gallery across from the English building.
  • Distinguished Achievement Award Ceremony – 7 p.m.; Two winners will be honored: Western American historian, Richard Slotkin, and Joss Whedon, his former student, writer, director, and filmmaker. Slotkin will deliver a keynote address on the “Classic Western.”
  • Annie Proulx reading and book signing – 7:30 p.m.; The American journalist and author will host an informal talk for Texas Tech students, faculty and staff in the basement auditorium of the English building.

Friday, Nov. 9

  • LSJE Readers Series – 11 a.m.; Native American novelist Stephen Graham Jones, author of “The Fast Red Road” and “Demon Theory,” will read at the Overton.
  • LSJE Readers Series – 4:30 p.m.; Palestinian-American poet and Texan, Naomi Shihab Nye, author of “19 Varieties of Gazelle” and “You and Yours” and winner of four Pushcart Prizes, will read at the Overton.

Saturday, Nov. 10

  • “Freeing the West” – 2:30 p.m.; Nationally known artist Gregory Sale will perform the interactive art piece at the Museum of Texas Tech. The performance will follow with a discussion session with Sale and a reception in the Sculpture Garden of the museum. The event is free and open to the public.

Hundreds of professors from universities around the world will attend events and present papers. Students may additionally attend a special session on “Graduate Student Professionalization” hosted by a panel of professors and graduate students from both large and small schools.

“We expect close to 400 people to attend this year’s conference and engage in our ongoing conversation about the literatures and cultures of the North American West,” Spurgeon said. “ Attendees are coming to Lubbock from the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Denmark and the United Kingdom.”

While the opportunity to attend all events is only open to those registered, Texas Tech students, faculty and staff are invited to attend a single event of their choosing. Unregistered attendees are asked to bring their Texas Tech ID to the conference registration desk at the Overton for free admission and a temporary pass.

This event would not be possible without the support Texas Tech.

“The university has donated money, time and materials over the last three years that have brought the WLA conference to Lubbock,” Spurgeon said. “This demonstrates commitment to the very highest standards of scholarly excellence and community involvement.”

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