CFP: Wallace Stegner and the Changing American West

By October 25, 2018

I have spoken with Amanda Hendrix-Komoto of Montana State University, and she encouraged me to tell everyone that the proposals do not have to focus on Wallace Stegner. Instead, her department is hoping that the received proposals will take a theme from Stegner’s work – family, community, etc. – and examine it in a way that goes beyond Stegner’s original vision of the West.

Wallace Stegner and the Changing American West:
Reimagining Place, Region, Nation, and Globe in an Era of Instability
-A Call for Papers and Other Creative Work-

Center for Western Lands and Peoples
Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies
College of Letters and Science / Montana State University, Bozeman

By the time of his death, Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) had become the epitome of the politically engaged western American writer able to express himself across a range of genres, from fiction to history, autobiography, and essays. In books such as The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wolf Willow, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, Angle of Repose (Pulitzer Prize), and The American West as Living Space, Stegner brought to life and illuminated the West like few other authors. Of uppermost concern to Stegner were issues of transiency and community, landscape quality and degradation, family life, the importance of place, and the need for ways of living that foster stable social bonds and stable economies within the realities and constraints of western environments.

Twenty-five years after his passing and on the eve of the 110th year of his birth, we seek to assess the state of the North American West and its study through the lens of Stegner’s life, work, and legacy. We invite proposals for essays that revisit and reinterpret Stegner, but more broadly, we welcome proposals for work that reconsiders and reimagines Stegnerian themes and issues in light of the political, economic, and ecological tumult of our times. We seek insights from across disciplines, genres, and forms. Although we emphasize the written word, we seek contributions from the visual arts as well. What aspects of Stegner’s life and work have enduring value? How do contemporary issues of Indigenous sovereignty, gender inequality and feminism, immigration, the status of refugees, extreme economic disparities, and changes to the Earth System, especially global warming, alter our understanding of the West and the ways that Stegner envisioned it? How might our efforts to grapple with these issues compel us to reimagine the western past? How might Stegner and his work—critiqued, revised, updated—help us negotiate our unsettled present and point us toward alternative futures?

Contributions selected for this project will be presented at workshops and public events at Montana State University, May 9-11, 2019, and will be edited and included in an anthology of essays and illustrations. Please send 300-word abstracts to westernlandsandpeoples@montana.edu by November 5, 2018.

Mark Fiege (mark.fiege@montana.edu)
Professor of History
Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies
Montana State University

Susan Kollin (susan.kollin@montana.edu)
Professor of English
Director, Center for Western Lands and Peoples
Montana State University

Mary Murphy (mmurphy@montana.edu)
Professor of History
Co-Director, Center for Western Lands and Peoples
Montana State University

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