Truer West: Western American Authenticity Ten Years On

full name / name of organization: 
Andrew Husband / Western Literature Association
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Ten years after the publication of Nathaniel Lewis' Unsettling the Literary West: Authenticity and Authorship, western, post-western, and critical regional studies still grapple with the problem of authenticity in the American West. If, as Lewis playfully suggests, the "very struggle over authenticity [is] perhaps the only 'true' condition of the western cultural imagination," then how might this struggle have altered the tone of Western literary and cultural criticism in the last decade? What does the poststructural, postmodern distrust of authenticity do to encourage fresh analyses of texts previously heralded for their authentic portrayals of the West? How do scholars account for this struggle in works that place no claims on authenticity or were once excluded from older paradigms of Western authenticity? Is there even an imagined, authentic West for which these artists struggle? An inauthentic one? Or an a-authentic West?

We welcome presentation abstracts on these and related questions. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

· Affects, bodies, and authenticity
· Authenticity and environmental narratives of the West
· Western pop culture and its use of the authentic
· Authenticity as commodity or fetish
· Minority Western narratives and "other" authentic Wests
· Photography and its (in-)authentic representations of the West
· Tensions between multiple Wests

Submit a 250-word presentation abstract and brief C.V. to Kiara L. Kharpertian ( and Andrew Husband ( by 20 January 2013.