Preview Cart Checkout

Become a Member

Join Today!

Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

Receive our Newsletter


68th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference

68th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference

Thursday, June 1, 2023 to Saturday, June 3, 2023
National Willa Cather Center
413 North Webster Street
Red Cloud, NE 68970

Our 68th annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, held during Willa Cather's sesquicentennial year, provides an opportunity to pay homage to the author's life and legacy here in Nebraska. Just as Cather wrote about the "certain qualities of feeling and imagination" possessed by Nebraska's early immigrant homesteaders in her essay, "Nebraska: The End of the First Cycle," we will commemorate Cather's 150th birthday by examining the evolution of her own writerly imagination. This conference will also examine Cather's novel A Lost Lady, which celebrates its publication centenary in 2023, and other texts that Cather published in 1923, such as her revised book of poetry, April Twilights and Other Poems

Paper proposals are due by March 1, 2023. Details about the schedule will be announced soon! 

Conference Lodging

A block of rooms is available at the Holiday Inn Express in nearby Hastings at a rate of $129/night. To reserve, call 402-463-8858 before May 1 and mention the Willa Cather Spring Conference.

Call for Papers

Call for Papers
Call for Papers

Complex and Brilliant: Cather at 150

“If her image flashed into his mind, it came with a brightness of dark eyes, her pale triangular cheeks with long earrings, and her many-coloured laugh. When he was dull, dull and tired of everything, he used to think that if he could hear that long-lost lady laugh again, he would be gay." —A Lost Lady

Our 68th annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, held during Willa Cather's sesquicentennial year, marks several important anniversaries, and provides an opportunity to pay homage to the author's life and legacy in Nebraska. Cather’s book of poetry, April Twilights and Other Poems was revised and published in February 1923, and A Lost Lady, the story of Marian Forrester and her life in a dying Western railroad town, was first serialized in Century in the Spring of 1923, then published by Knopf in September. As the follow-up to her 1922 Pulitzer Prize-winning One of Ours, A Lost Lady was immediately praised, one critic hailing it as “Miss Cather’s masterpiece.” The only one of her novels made into film in her lifetime, one hundred years later, A Lost Lady remains one of Cather’s finest, a stunning portrait of a troubled woman in changing times. Later that same year, Cather’s, “Nebraska: The End of the First Cycle” was published in The Nation. Both a remembrance of the Nebraska of her childhood and an appraisal of a state now “stamped with the ugly crest of materialism,” the essay provides as much of an opportunity to celebrate Cather’s writing and re-examine her place in the American literary canon as A Lost Lady.

The directors invite papers on a variety of topics related to commemorating Cather's 150th birthday by examining the evolution of her own writerly imagination, including but not limited to the following areas:

● The Year 1923: Cather at 50
● Reframing A Lost Lady at 100

○ Publishing history, public reception, and critical appraisals

○ Advances in scholarship since the publication of the 1997 Scholarly Edition
style="padding-left: 30px;">○ The Complete Letters and A Lost Lady: New Insights and New Perspectives

A Lost Lady, “Nebraska: The End of the First Cycle” and the colonial settlement patterns of the American West

○ “The Novel Démeublé” and A Lost Lady: Parallels and Practices

A Lost Lady, American Imperialism, and Native Americans

○ Intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability in A Lost Lady

● Nebraska on the Page

○ Cather's depiction of small town life, people, and places in A Lost Lady and other Red Cloud texts.

○ Nebraska History and A Lost Lady—Beyond Prototypes and Settings

○ Nebraska and Webster County railroad history

● Cather, post-frontier Nebraska, and Western literature

● Cather and Fitzgerald; A Lost Lady and The Great Gatsby—Facts and Fiction

● Cather and Film; Cather and Hollywood—Connections and Critiques

● Portraiture and public letters–Cather’s evolution into a public figure

● Pedagogical approaches to A Lost Lady and other Cather texts

● The year 2073–Imagining Cather at 200

Proposals of no more than 500 words should describe papers or presentations approximately twenty minutes long. Innovative formats are encouraged. Abstracts, along with a short bio, your contact information and institutional affiliation, should be emailed to Rachel Olsen, Director of Education and Engagement, at by March 1, 2023. Responses to proposals will be sent by mid-March. At this time we intend to offer an in-person conference but remain committed to offering digital programming to our audiences. Accepted speakers are asked, therefore, to prepare a video recording of their paper for submission by May 22, 2023, for our digital conference platform. Questions may be directed to Rachel or Dr. James Jaap, Academic Director of the 2023 Spring Conference, at