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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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Conferences and Calls for Proposals

Conferences and Calls for Proposals

The Willa Cather Foundation hosts an annual Spring Conference in Red Cloud, Nebraska, where Cather scholars, general readers, and those interested in the arts gather to celebrate Nebraska's cultural heritage. The Spring Conference is a great time to tour Cather's Red Cloud, hike the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, enjoy a live performance in the Red Cloud Opera House, and learn even more about Cather's life and writing.

We also organize a biennial International Seminar and periodic symposia in locations around the country—and the world!—that were important to Willa Cather. Colleagues from around the globe, at all professional levels, and from a number of disciplines gather to share their research related to the seminar theme, and Cather scholars generate new ideas and collaborations for future projects. Though primarily a scholarly conference, plenty of activities—guided tours, exhibitions, and performances—are included for the Cather enthusiast and general reader.

In addition to our own conferences, a number of major literary and humanities conferences feature panels and paper sessions related to Cather scholarship. We are happy to share Calls for Proposals for those panels here, alongside our own, as well as funding opportunities related to those conferences.

Call for Papers: Willa Cather’s Letters/Willa Cather and Letters

Call for Papers: Willa Cather’s Letters/Willa Cather and Letters
Call for Papers: Willa Cather’s Letters/Willa Cather and Letters

As the Complete Letters of Willa Cather is nearing completion, Cather's letters are available and accessible to scholars and researchers in an unprecedented way. To mark this moment in Cather scholarship, Cather Studies will devote a volume to essays that engage with Cather's letters in new and deeper ways that may have been previously unavailable to scholars. Melissa J. Homestead, editor of Cather Studies and co-editor of the Complete Letters, will edit the volume.

A variety of approaches and topics are welcome, and essays may focus exclusively on Cather or Cather in relation to other figures. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Epistolary forms and conventions
  • Letters in the context of the history of letter writing
  • Engagement with the material aspects of letter-writing (pens, pencils, stationery, typewriters, envelopes)
  • The employment of secretaries to assist with correspondence
  • Epistolary networks
  • The negotiation of relationships through letter writing
  • Gaps in epistolary archives and how to interpret them
  • Letters in relation to published literary or critical work
  • Lies in letters
  • Cather as a literary critic in her letters
  • Cather’s testamentary ban on letter publication
  • Access to authors’ letters as shaping research and teaching
  • Cather as a reader of published letter collections
  • Letters and literary estates
  • Letters as collectible objects/letters in collections
  • Computational approaches to letters (network analysis, sentiment analysis, etc.)

Essays should be submitted no later than November 15, 2022. Essays should be documented in Chicago Style using notes. See this guide for advice about how to cite letters as published in the Complete Letters. Essays will undergo double-blind peer review. Please direct queries and submissions to

The Cather Project and the Willa Cather Archive will also co-sponsor a scholarly symposium on Cather’s letters at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall of 2022—dates and details to be announced—but attendance at the symposium is not a prerequisite for submitting an essay to Cather Studies.

Nebraska Cather Collaborative Research Grants for Willa Cather Scholarship (CLOSED)

Nebraska Cather Collaborative Research Grants for Willa Cather Scholarship (CLOSED)
Nebraska Cather Collaborative Research Grants for Willa Cather Scholarship (CLOSED)

Nebraska Cather Collaborative Research Grants for Willa Cather Scholarship 2022

The Cather Project of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) English Department, in cooperation with the Cather Archive of the UNL Libraries and the National Willa Cather Center (NWCC) in Red Cloud, announces the availability of research grants for visiting scholars. These grants provide financial support for scholars to travel to and reside in Nebraska for one to four weeks to conduct research on Willa Cather in UNL Archives and Special Collections and in the Archive of the NWCC. Scholars from advanced doctoral students through senior faculty are invited to apply (note the change from the previous Woodress Scholars research grants program).

Proposed projects should reflect the need to conduct research in UNL Archives and Special Collections, although researchers are also encouraged to conduct research at the NWCC and to experience Cather’s Nebraska hometown during their residence. Red Cloud is 2 ½ hours from Lincoln by car. Successful applicants will be awarded $1,000 per week for up to four weeks. The deadline for submission of materials is DECEMBER 1, 2021, and we will inform successful applicants by FEBRUARY 1, 2022. Weeks in residence, which need not be consecutive, should fall between March 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023. Note, however, that considering the contingencies of the pandemic, grant funds will be held in reserve and may be taken up later if archives access and safe travel are not available during this period.

The Cather Project will assist successful applicants with advice about travel and lodging. When successful applicants are in residence, they will receive advice and guidance from scholars associated with the Cather Project and the Cather Archive and, depending on schedule and availability, have the opportunity to present their work in progress.

The Cather Project ( produces the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition and Cather Studies, both published by the University of Nebraska Press. The Cather Archive ( is a digital project dedicated to study of Willa Cather's life and writings and the home of The Complete Letters of Willa Cather. The Archives and Special Collections of the UNL Libraries holds the largest collection of letters from and to Cather; edited typescripts and manuscripts of her works; multiple editions of her works; and many other Cather-associated materials. For more on these collections, see the finding aids for the various Cather-related collections The growing archive of the National Willa Cather Center includes books, letters, photographs, and personal items. Information about these collections can be accessed here:

These grants are funded by the Willa Cather Fund and the Roberta and James Woodress Fund, both of which are administered by the University of Nebraska Foundation. When schedule and availability permits, the NWCC will provide in-kind support in the form of housing in Red Cloud.

To apply, please send to Beth Burke (, Cather Project Specialist, as e-mail attachments the following items:

• your c.v. (please limit to 2 pages)

• an application statement of no more than 3 pages describing your proposed research project and the importance of materials and resources at UNL and the NWCC to your project (please be specific).

In addition, a professional letter of recommendation should be sent directly by your recommender to Beth Burke ( The letter should be specific to the fellowship and proposed project rather than a general letter of recommendation (such as a letter from job placement dossier).

Please address questions about these grants to Professor Melissa J. Homestead, Director of the Cather Project (

Ana McCracken Educator Scholarship

Ana McCracken Educator Scholarship
Ana McCracken Educator Scholarship

To advance our educational mission, the Willa Cather Foundation created the Educator Scholarship in 2016. In partnership with the Thistlewood Foundation, we will award two teachers or administrators complementary registrations to the Willa Cather Spring Conference and $500 travel grants to offset the cost of travel and lodging. This program allows educators to experience the Cather historic sites, the cultural opportunities, the growing body Cather scholarship, and the camaraderie that our Spring Conference offers. It is our sincere hope that these awards will facilitate a dynamic exchange of ideas between Cather researchers and educators, upon whom we rely for our next generation of Cather readers. 

To apply for the Educators Scholarship, please complete the application that follows. Questions may be directed to education coordinator Rachel Olsen, at 402-746-2653 or The application deadline is April 30 annually, and recipients will be notified by May 2.

Brandeis Novel Symposium 2020 (Closed)

Brandeis Novel Symposium 2020 (Closed)
Brandeis Novel Symposium 2020 (Closed)

CFP: Brandeis Novel Symposium

Friday April 24, 2020
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Deadline for submissions: November 1, 2019

The fourth annual Brandeis Novel Symposium examines the genre’s relation to issues of settler colonialism, land, and indigeneity. The focal text is Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House (1925). As in previous years, we invite papers that explore these larger questions from diverse theoretical, historical and formal angles, taking Cather’s novel either as focus or simply as a point of departure.

The following links will take you to programs for past Brandeis Novel Symposia: 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Please send abstracts of 150-250 words by November 1 to Decisions by November 20.

American Literature Association’s 33rd Annual Conference 2022 (CLOSED)

American Literature Association’s 33rd Annual Conference 2022 (CLOSED)
American Literature Association’s 33rd Annual Conference 2022 (CLOSED)

The Willa Cather Foundation will sponsor two separate panels at the American Literature Association’s 33rd Annual Conference, to be held in Chicago, IL May 26-29, 2022.

Cather and Her Contemporaries: As the publication of her letters has demonstrated, Willa Cather had personal, aesthetic, philosophical, and social ties with a wide range of writers, artists, musicians, and public figures. What’s more, her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry were sites of engagement where many of these connections were both widened and deepened. The Willa Cather Foundation seeks paper proposals that pursue a richer understanding of Cather’s connections with her contemporaries, including but not limited to:

  • Comparative readings of Cather’s work juxtaposed with the work of her contemporaries
  • Cather’s biographical, dialogical, and conceptual ties to other writers, artists, and musicians
  • Cather’s social network
  • Cather’s responses to major historic events of her lifetime
  • Major writers or artists influenced by Cather, and/or Cather’s major influences

Cather and Her Publishers: The year 2022 marks the centennial of the publication of One of Ours (1922), as well as the one hundred year anniversary of Cather’s first novel published with the publisher Alfred A. Knopf. She had published with Houghton Mifflin from 1912 to 1918; in 1920 she broke from that pattern by publishing the short story collection Youth and the Bright Medusa and April Twilights and Other Poems with Knopf, but One of Ours was her first novel since My Ántonia (1918). Papers related to the following topics are especially of interest:

  • New perspectives on the publication and reception of One of Ours
  • Important differences between Houghton Mifflin and the Knopfs, including but not limited to production, editing, advertising/publicity, and distribution
  • Blanche Knopf’s role in Cather’s life and career
  • Cather’s magazine work and serialization in various periodicals
  • Various other expressions of Cather’s work, including Armed Services editions, the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Modern Library, audiobook recordings, and fine press editions

Please send 300 word proposals for individual papers and a brief CV to Matthew Lavin by January 4, 2022. Include the name of the panel and any AV requests.

NOTE: The Willa Cather Foundation is pleased to announce that travel scholarships for graduate students are available. Please see the section titled "Willa Cather Foundation Scholarship for Student Research" on the WCF’s Scholarship page HERE.

SSAWW Call for Papers (Closed)

SSAWW Call for Papers (Closed)
SSAWW Call for Papers (Closed)
Society for the Study of American Women Writers

Information about the triennial SSAWW conference can by found by clicking HERE.
Information about the Willa Cather Foundation's Scholarship for Student Research, which provides a small stipend for emerging scholars presenting at conferences like SSAWW, can be found on this page.

Call for Papers:

Two panels will be sponsored by the Willa Cather Foundation at the upcoming SSAWW 2021 conference. The deadline for proposals is January 22, 2021. The panels are:

Unsettled Landscapes: Willa Cather and Others
Willa Cather’s landscapes and places feature prominently and memorably in her work, as well as in the imaginations of her readers. Her novels and stories range across time and space, from New York City and the Southwest, to the Great Plains and Quebec. While many of Cather’s works are historical, she writes her landscapes and settings vividly and with presence, with readers commonly remarking that her places almost feel like characters. In “Landscape as a Provocation: Reflections on Moving Mountains,” feminist geographer Doreen Massey argues that “both space and landscape could be imagined as provisionally intertwined simultaneities of ongoing, unfinished, stories.” Massey critiques our tendency to view landscapes as a part of history and places as fixed and stable, and instead proposes viewing them as unsettled, evolving, adaptable, and possessing agency. This shifts our reading of landscapes away from the human-centered view and instead exposes how intertwined and interconnected the human and nonhuman truly are. If we read the landscapes and places in the texts of Cather and other American women writers through this lens, what new narratives emerge about these written landscapes and about the places that inspired them?  Please submit as e-mail attachments a proposal of 250-300 words and a brief bio (50-60 words) to

Willa Cather and Other American Women Writers:Genealogy, Friendship, Competition, Intertextuality
In public, Cather tended to hold herself apart from both her female predecessors and her contemporaries, positioning herself as the exceptional woman writer. For this panel, we invite new inquiries into the Cather’s connections to other American women writers. What might it mean to put her in a genealogical relationship with the nineteenth-century popular novelists she sometimes scoffed at? Now that Cather’s letters are being published and can be quoted, what new interpretations might be advanced about her known friendships with figures such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Zoe Akins, Zona Gale, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher? Who was her competition in the literary market, and how might her sense of competition with her contemporaries have shaped her fiction? What intertextual relations might be traced with later women writers engaging her legacy? Please submit as e-mail attachments a proposal of 250-300 words and a brief bio (50-60 words) to

17th International Willa Cather Seminar (Closed)

17th International Willa Cather Seminar (Closed)
17th International Willa Cather Seminar (Closed)

17th International Willa Cather Seminar

“Unsettling Cather: Differences and Dislocations”

June 17–21, 2019 | Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia


The 17th International Willa Cather Seminar will be held in the lush, complex place of Cather’s Virginia birth and first nine years. When she was born here in 1873, Cather’s family had already been in Virginia since the 1730s. Here, as observant daughter of a white family, she first encountered differences and dislocations that remained lively, productive, and sometimes deeply troubling sites of tension and energy in her writings. In this Seminar, we do not intend to root conversation solely in this particular locale. Instead, we hope to un-root or unsettle it through attention to such differences and dislocations as they marked Cather’s life and work, beginning in her undergraduate stories and culminating in her late-life return to Virginia in her last novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl.

Highlights of the Seminar include:

Siobhan Somerville, keynote speaker
Author of Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture and professor of English, African American Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois

Tours of Cather sites, including Willow Shade, her first childhood home

A day in Washington, D.C., with opportunities to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as other museums relevant to Cather’s writing

As always, the Seminar welcomes papers taking a broad array of approaches to Cather’s life and work. We especially invite fresh takes on the many forms of difference and the many moments of dislocation that her readers encounter. We aim to jumpstart a conversation that has been somewhat muted in Cather studies in recent years and to invite new voices and new perspectives into the discussion.

  • Differences of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, class, region, and nationality are everywhere in Cather’s cosmopolitan fictional world. How do they signify? How do they intersect? How are they navigated? What is at stake in the writer’s explorations of difference?

  • Cather’s characters are often on the move. Relocation tends to produce a sense of dislocation that may be destabilizing and disorienting. What are the social and psychic resonances of dislocation in Cather’s writing?

  • How has expanded access to Cather’s letters unsettled understandings of her life? How does hearing Cather’s unmediated epistolary voice (rather than the cautious, mediated voice of paraphrase) alter the sound or our sense of that voice?

Program Directors:

Marilee Lindemann, University of Maryland
Ann Romines, George Washington University, emerita

Site Director:

John Jacobs, Shenandoah University, emeritus

Please send 500-word proposals of individual papers to the Willa Cather Foundation’s education director, Tracy Tucker, at, by February 20, 2019. If your paper is accepted, you will be notified by March 20, 2019. Papers should be 8-10 pages in length (20 minutes when read). The conference organizers also welcome proposals for roundtable panels and other formats; proposals for such alternate formats should be submitted no later than February 1, 2019. Graduate students will be welcomed to the Seminar and those whose proposals are accepted may apply for funding through the Willa Cather Foundation.

American Literature Association Annual Conference 2020 (CLOSED)

American Literature Association Annual Conference 2020 (CLOSED)
American Literature Association Annual Conference 2020 (CLOSED)

The Willa Cather Foundation is pleased to sponsor two panels at the upcoming 2020 American Literature Association Annual Conference, to be held San Diego, California, May 21-24, 2020. This year's panels will be organized around two central topics:

"Cather and Her Readers"

In this panel, we invite participants to explore Cather’s readers and the reception of her works. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • the use of new archives and digital technologies to shed light on Cather’s readers;
  • tensions between middlebrow and highbrow readers in Cather’s reception;
  • Cather’s reception among diverse populations (gender, race, sexuality, economic status, and / or nationality);
  • Cather’s relevance to 21st century readers.

“Willa Cather and the 1920s”

The 1920s mark the most productive decade of Willa Cather’s career. In this panel, we invite participants to examine Cather’s works of the 1920s and their relationship to larger literary, social, and cultural issues of the decade. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • explorations of Cather’s first publication of the 1920s, the short story collection Youth and the Bright Medusa;
  • Cather’s relationship to various places in the 1920s;
  • connections between Cather’s writing and other writers of the 1920s;
  • studies of Cather in light of 1920s aesthetics, culture, economics, and / or history.

Please send 300 word proposals for individual papers and a brief CV to Kelsey Squire ( by January 3, 2020. Include any AV requests. 

The Willa Cather Foundation is pleased to announce that one travel scholarship for graduate students is available. Please see our scholarship page for application instructions.

American Literature Association Fall 2018 Symposium (CLOSED)

American Literature Association Fall 2018 Symposium (CLOSED)
American Literature Association Fall 2018 Symposium (CLOSED)

Sights and Sites: Vision and Place in American Literature

November 1-3, 2018

Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe
828 Paseo de Peralta Santa Fe, NM 87501

Conference Director: Alfred Bendixen, Princeton University

Keynote Speaker: Karen Kilcup, University of North Carolina, at Greensboro

The Willa Cather Foundation seeks proposals for papers exploring Willa Cather and the American Southwest. While Cather’s fascination with the Southwest is most salient in The Song of the Lark, The Professor’s House, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, we welcome proposals on new approaches and different perspectives of Cather’s vision of the American landscape more broadly. Topics include, but are not limited to:

 Gender, spirituality, myth, and race

 Cather’s examination of migration and agrarianism

 Environmentalism and ecology in Cather’s work

 Visual elements of the southwest

 The Spanish presence in U.S. history

 The colonial context, expansionism, nationalism, and immigration

 New approaches to teaching Cather in the current political climate

 The role of the body in Cather’s fiction

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words to by September 3. For full details, see the attached CFP.

Cather Symposium in Limavady, Northern Ireland (CLOSED)

Cather Symposium in Limavady, Northern Ireland (CLOSED)
Cather Symposium in Limavady, Northern Ireland (CLOSED)

Cather Symposium: Ireland

June 28–July 1, 2018
Limavady and Derry, Northern Ireland


Hosted by Ulster University and the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, and
Sponsored by the Willa Cather Foundation and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Set in the ancestral home of the Cather family, and taking place during the centennial of My Ántonia, the symposium will explore themes deeply resonant in Willa Cather’s life and work (including but not restricted to):

• migration and immigration;

• family legacy and inheritance;

• gender and language;

• and religious identity.

The symposium brings together established and new Cather scholars with Irish scholars and the local community. Visits to Cather family sites, along with social events involving Irish music and storytelling, will be part of the program. The Roe Valley area offers sublime coastal cliffs, mountains and ancient forests, historic ruins and landed estates. Tours of the Giants Causeway and the Walled City of Derry will complete the weekend.

Directors: Willa Murphy, Ulster University, and Aaron Callan, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

Please send abstracts of up to 350 words to the Willa Cather Foundation’s education director, Tracy Tucker, at by 15 February 2018.