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
Native American and Indigenous Literature and Culture
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
For more information, see http://www.westernlit.org/wla-conference-2018/.