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61st Annual Spring Conference Call for Papers

61st Annual Spring Conference Call for Papers

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

“Both Bitter and Sweet”: Cather, Literature, and the Great War


The years 2014–2018 mark the centennial of the First World War and represent a time to re-examine Cather’s writing of that period, particularly her 1922 novel One of Ours, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Scholars are invited to submit proposals on Cather and World War I in particular, or related topics that broaden and extend our understanding of Cather’s work both about and during the war years. Subjects of interest include, but are not limited to:

• the critical and popular reception of One of Ours, the novel’s stance on the war, and comparisons between Cather’s novel to other depictions of the Great War

• questions of gender, including women’s participation in World War I and women’s writing about war, including those by Cather’s friends Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant and Dorothy Canfield Fisher

• Cather’s Pulitzer Prize and its meaning to her life and career

• Cather’s attitude toward and reflections on war, explored through her novels written during WWI—The Song of the Lark and My Ántonia — and through her letters, her essays “Roll Call on the Prairies” and “The Education You Have to Fight For,” and her short stories of the period

• Cather’s love of France and European culture

• biographical exploration of G.P. Cather (the cousin on whom Claude Wheeler was loosely based), the idea of heroic masculinity, and civilian responses to the war

• popular culture of the World War I period, including music, trench art, fashion, and film

• poetry and literature of WWI vis-à-vis central issues in Cather’s war writing

• memorials and representations of WWI in both high and popular culture

• WWI as setting, both as physical landscape and as the intersection of cultures, competing historical perspectives, and artistic responses

Conference directors Julie Olin-Ammentorp and Max Despain invite proposals on the above or related topics by February 1, 2016. Please email proposals to WCF education director Tracy Tucker, along with a short resumé or vita ( 

The 61st annual Willa Cather Spring Conference will be held June 2-4, 2016, in Red Cloud, NE. 

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