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.

American Literature Association Conference 2024: Call for Proposals

The Willa Cather Foundation will sponsor 1-2 panels at the American Literature Association’s 35th Annual Conference, to be held at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, May 23-26, 2024. Proposals on any topic related to Cather’s life and writing will be considered, including but not limited to:

- New approaches to Cather studies
- Cather and her contemporaries
- Cather and authorship, circulation, reception, and/or publishing
- Teaching Cather
- Environmental and ecocritical themes
- Material culture
- Digital/computational approaches to Cather studies
- Cather's correspondence

Please send 300 word proposals for individual papers and a brief CV to Matthew Lavin (lavinm [at] by Friday, January 12, 2024. Please include the title of your submission and list of any required AV equipment (projector, sound, video, etc.). NOTE: The Willa Cather Foundation provides funding (up to $400) to support graduate student scholars presenting a paper related to Willa Cather at a major conference. All scholarly and critical approaches are welcome, as long as Cather’s work is the central focus. Recipients must have travel and registration expenses not already covered by other external sources.

See for more information.

69th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference: Call for Proposals

Cather and the Readerly Imagination

In her own time as in ours, Willa Cather’s books created vibrant and varied communities of readers. Cather’s literary works detail numerous acts of reading, and she herself was an avid reader with an acute awareness of the reading public. The 69th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference seeks to celebrate and explore both the act of reading Cather and the presence of reading and readers within Cather’s fiction and letters.

The directors invite papers on a variety of topics related to Cather, readers, and reading, including but not limited to the following areas:

Representations of readers and reading in Cather’s novels and short stories.

  • How readers navigate challenging topics in Cather’s fiction.
  • Book clubs, both historical and contemporary, and their approaches to Cather.
  • Teaching and pedagogical approaches; digital reading and / or the use of archival materials and Cather Archive documents.
  • Reading Cather alongside banned or challenged books. Diverse communities of readers: women; immigrants; LGBTQ+ readers; Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities; disability communities; religious communities.
  • Reading and affect: how emotions such as joy, grief, pleasure, and escape are evoked by or represented in Cather’s works.
  • Cather as a reader: the works and authors she read and their influence on her writing; her personal library; and her family’s library.
  • Reader responses: how physical copies of Cather’s work (illustrations, typography, dust jacket and book cover design) affect readers' reception; how audiobook features and narration shape how readers experience Cather's work.
  • Genre: reading Cather within and beyond specific genres, including poetry, regionalism, modernism, and the history of the novel.
  • Reading Cather alongside her contemporaries.

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 submitted to Rachel Olsen, Director of Education and Engagement, via the 2024 Spring Conference Proposal Form by March 1, 2024. 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. Questions may be directed to Rachel Olsen or Sarah Clere and Kelsey Squire, Academic Advisors of the 2024 Spring Conference, at, or

Cather Seminar 2025: Call for Leadership Proposals

Cather Seminar 2025: Call for Proposals

The International Willa Cather Seminar Leadership Committee invites proposals for the 19th International Willa Cather Seminar, to be held in 2025. Seminar directors work alongside National Willa Cather Center staff to create a one-of-a-kind conference experience for Cather scholars and enthusiasts in locations central to Willa Cather's life and writing. Past seminars have been held in Red Cloud, Lincoln, and Nebraska City, Nebraska; Santa Fe; Quebec City; Frederick County, Virginia; Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College, Vermont; Paris and Provence, France; Flagstaff, Arizona; Northampton, Massachussetts; Chicago; and New York City. Seminars are expected to last 2-3 days and blend concurrent sessions of academic papers, keynote lectures, tours of Cather related sites, performances, public events, and social activities.

We ask for succinct 2-3 page proposals that include the names of directors, their academic status, brief summary of their Cather scholarly and other related experience, justification of site appropriateness for Cather studies, explanation of proposed theme, and specifics on institutional partnership and sponsorship potential. Preference will be given to proposals that demonstrate strong institutional partnership, sponsorship potential, and sufficient local infrastructure for an academic conference (transportation, dining, lodging, and entertainment options). 

The International Willa Cather Center Seminar Leadership Committee (a partnership between the National Willa Cather Center and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) collaborates with, advises, and supports directors and partner institutions in order to ensure that seminar experiences are successful and satisfying for all. The Committee will also contribute to the financial resources needed to run the conference. 

For questions or to submit a proposal, please contact Rachel Olsen, Director of Education and Engagement for the Willa Cather Foundation ( Deadline for proposals is January 31, 2024.