Preview Cart Checkout

Become a Member

Join Today!

 
 
Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)
 
 
 

Receive our Newsletter

 
 

67th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference

67th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference

Thursday, June 2, 2022 to Saturday, June 4, 2022
National Willa Cather Center
413 N. Webster St.
Red Cloud, NE 68970

In 2022, our annual Spring Conference will explore the landscape of literary prizes as we mark the publication centenary of Willa Cather’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel One of Ours. Our three-day conference, "Literary Prizes: Acclaim and Controversy," will examine the distinctly modern phenomenon of cultural prizes. Dr. James F. English, author of The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value, will give an invited lecture as we examine the impacts of the literary award industry on authors' lives and legacies, their books, and their readers. A scholarly symposium will be a part of the three-day schedule, with Dr. Melissa Homestead, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, serving as this year's Spring Conference academic director.

Click the accordian tabs below to learn more about our invited speakers and artists.

Registrations to attend on-site will be accepted through May 20; registrations to attend virtually will be accepted through June 2.

Register Now on Whova

Invited Speaker, NPR's Maureen Corrigan

Invited Speaker, NPR's Maureen Corrigan
Invited Speaker, NPR's Maureen Corrigan

We are happy to welcome Maureen Corrigan, book critic on NPR'S Fresh Air, to our Spring Conference. Corrigan's talk, "All The Glittering Prizes," will consider the backstage deliberations and decisions behind literary awards, informed by her time as a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Corrigan's remarks will also address how books are valued and evaluated in our modern culture, and the role that she, as a critic, plays as she reviews select works from the hundreds of advance reader copies she receives annually.

Maureen Corrigan is America’s most trusted and beloved book critic. Her distinctive voice is at once incisive and accessible, like a well-read friend who always sends you home with a good book to read. For more than twenty years Maureen has been the book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air. She is also a columnist for The Washington Post and The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University where her courses are very popular. As a lecturer she’s been described as “brilliant,” “hilarious,” “passionate” and “eloquent.”

Tickets for this talk are available for purchase for those who cannot attend the full conference. Learn more!

She is the author of two books of her own; Leave me Alone I’m Reading and So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures, which was named one of the ten best books of the year by Library Journal. Aside from her writings for The Washington Post and The Village Voice, Maureen has also written reviews for The- New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Nation among others. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism. 

Corrigan's appearance is made possible by the Nebraska Cather Collaborative and the Philip and Helen Cather Southwick Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. The Nebraska Cather Collaborative is a joint effort of the National Willa Cather Center and the University of Nebraska's Cather Project, the Willa Cather Archive, and the University of Nebraska Foundation to promote Willa Cather’s life and work and to establish Nebraska as an essential destination for Cather enthusiasts and scholars. 

Invited Speaker, Dr. James English

Invited Speaker, Dr. James English
Invited Speaker, Dr. James English

We're happy to announce that Dr. James English, author of The Economy of Prestige, will join us for an invited lecture “The Literary Award as a Judgment Device.” English is John Welsch Centennial Professor of English and Founding Director of the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. His books also include Comic Transactions, the Concise Companion to Contemporary British Literature, and The Global Future of English Studies. His current projects include a book about ranking and rating systems in literature and the arts and an edited volume of essays on Literary Studies and Human Flourishing, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

In the Opera House, Nebraska Chamber Players

In the Opera House, Nebraska Chamber Players
Nebraska Chamber Players logo features a violin on a blue background
In the Opera House, Nebraska Chamber Players

Composer Chris Ellenwood’s new composition, Children of the Moon, is based on Willa Cather’s One of Ours which celebrates its 100th publication anniversary in 2022. Featuring Nebraska’s own Brian Leeper as vocalist, Nebraska Chamber Players will perform Children of the Moon on Saturday, June 4, in the Red Cloud Opera House. Tickets are sold in addition to conference registration.

Children of the Moon is composed for baritone voice, flute, clarinet, viola, cello, and piano and features text from Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, One of Ours. Ellenwood will be in Red Cloud on Saturday afternoon to discuss his composition and process; his talk is free and open to the public.

This performance is also available as a separate ticket for the public by visiting our Children of the Moon event page.

Getting Started with Whova

Getting Started with Whova
Getting Started with Whova

Even if you plan to attend the conference in Red Cloud, select program materials will be shared on Whova, our conference platform. It's also a great place to connect with other conference-goers (both in-person and online!) and participate in polls & games, community discussion, and give feedback to conference organizers. Whova provides a handy quick-start guide for their platform, which you may use on your mobile device or desktop computer. 

Be sure to sign in ahead of the conference and fill out your user profile! Most users find that spending 20-30 minutes in the days leading up to the conference really helps to improve their conference experience.

Conference Agenda

Conference Agenda
Conference Agenda

Call for Papers - Closed

Call for Papers - Closed
Call for Papers - Closed

In 1922, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., published Willa Cather’s fifth novel, One of Ours. Despite Cather’s attempts to head off negative responses, reviews of One of Ours were decidedly mixed, with key critics such as H.L. Mencken deriding it as marking a precipitous descent from Cather’s previous level of achievement as an artist. Nevertheless, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1923, and as a result Cather became, for the rest of her life and beyond, “the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Willa Cather.”

The Willa Cather Spring Conference theme in this centennial year of One of Ours, “Literary Prizes: Acclaim and Controversies,” engages this divided response to her novel, which is characteristic of prize culture more broadly rather than a departure from it.

Some possible topics keyed to the broader conference theme for those who wish to present as part of the Scholars Symposium include:

  • The critical reception of One of Ours in 1922 and later.
  • The marketing of One of Ours by Knopf and how the firm positioned it as a prize candidate.
  • The controversy over the award of the Pulitzer to Cather in 1923.
  • One of Ours in relation to other Pulitzer winners in the prize’s first decade.
  • One of Ours as novel of the region then known as the Middle West, including its relationship to Webster County people and places.
  • How the award shaped Cather’s future trajectory as an artist.
  • Other prizes, awards, and recognitions accorded to Cather, such as the Prix Femina and the Howells Medal.
  • How Cather’s status as a Pulitzer winner did shape and has continued to shape the marketing of her works.
  • Cather’s place today in critical discourse about value and prestige, including the place of Cather and her novels on various “best of” ranked lists.

Proposals focusing on teaching and pedagogy at all levels of instruction are welcome!

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should describe papers or presentations approximately twenty minutes long. Innovative formats are encouraged. Abstracts, along with your contact information and institutional affiliation, should be emailed to education coordinator Rachel Olsen at rolsen@willacather.org by February 15, 2022. Responses to proposals will be sent by mid-March. Questions may be sent to Dr. Melissa J. Homestead, Academic Director of the 2022 Spring Conference, at mhomestead2@unl.edu

Given the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are planning for all possible formats: in-person in Red Cloud, completely online, or a hybrid. Presenters should plan to present their paper or participate in discussions online should circumstances require it.

Files: