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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. Held the first weekend in June, 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.

The WCF also organizes 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 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.

Educators Scholarship

Educators Scholarship
Educators Scholarship

To advance our educational mission, the Willa Cather Foundation created the Educators 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 director Tracy Tucker, at 402-746-2653 or The application deadline is March 15 annually, and recipients will be notified by March 30.

American Literature Association Annual Conference 2020

American Literature Association Annual Conference 2020
American Literature Association Annual Conference 2020

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.

Woodress Scholar Archive Research Grants 2019 (Closed)

Woodress Scholar Archive Research Grants 2019 (Closed)
Woodress Scholar Archive Research Grants 2019 (Closed)

Woodress Scholar Research Grants (2019)

The Cather Project of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announces the availability of a Research Grant for visiting scholars.  This grant provides financial support for scholars to travel to and reside in Lincoln, NE, for four consecutive weeks, in order to conduct research on Willa Cather using Cather resources in Nebraska and at UNL. 

Applications are invited from early career scholars, advanced graduate students, recent PhDs, and faculty not yet tenured.  Projects should reflect the need for research at the UNL Archives and in Nebraska. 

Each Woodress Research Grant is $4,000 and the scholar is expected to be in residence in Lincoln for four consecutive weeks during March 1 – December 20, 2019.  The Cather Project will assist with advice about travel, lodging, and a trip to the Willa Cather Foundation in Red Cloud, Nebraska (2 ½ hours away by car) to enable the scholar to research materials in the Foundation’s archives and visit the area of Cather’s childhood.

The Cather Project produces the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition and Cather Studies, both published by the University of Nebraska Press.  The Archives and Special Collections of the UNL Libraries hold the largest collection of Cather letters to and from her, edited typescripts, manuscripts, multiple editions of her works, and many other Cather-associated materials. 

Funding for the grants is from the Roberta and James Woodress Fund (created from a gift by Roberta and James Woodress; Mr. Woodress was an eminent Cather biographer and emeritus professor of English at University of California-Davis).

To apply, please send, as e-mail attachments, to Beth Burke at, the following items:

  • your c.v.

  • a statement of no more than 3 pages describing the proposed research project and the importance of materials and resources at UNL to your project

  • a sample of  scholarly writing (20-25pp: preferably focusing on Cather, though not necessarily exclusively)


In addition, two letters of recommendation should be sent directly by your recommenders to Beth (   Letters should be specific to the fellowship and proposed project rather than general letters of recommendation from your job placement dossier.

The deadline for submission of materials is DECEMBER 30, 2018 and we will inform successful applicants by FEBRUARY 1, 2019. 

Guy Reynolds, Director, The Cather Project
309 Andrews Hall

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln, NE  68588-0396

(402) 472-1919

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.

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 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.

63rd annual Willa Cather Spring Conference (CLOSED)

63rd annual Willa Cather Spring Conference (CLOSED)
63rd annual Willa Cather Spring Conference (CLOSED)

“Here at Last is An American Novel”:

Celebrating 100 Years of My Ántonia

63rd annual Willa Cather Spring Conference
Red Cloud, NE | May 31–June 2, 2018

When critic Randolph Bourne heralded My Ántonia as the arrival of the “American novel,” in 1918, he could not have known the many ways the novel would remain relevant to today’s American experience. As we celebrate the centennial anniversary of My Ántonia’s publication, conference directors Dr. Todd Richardson (University of Nebraska Omaha) and Dr. Kelsey Squire (Ohio Dominican Universtiy) invite paper proposals that examine the life and writings of Willa Cather with a focus on My Ántonia and its reputation as a most “American novel.”

Topics for consideration include:

• Examining My Ántonia or Cather’s works in light of immigration and diversity in the United States, from the late 19th century through today;

• Approaches to teaching, understanding, and interpreting challenging moments from My Ántonia, such as: racialized scenes and language (Blind d’Arnault, Native American absence, and discrimination); suicide; sexual violence; xenophobia;

• Unpacking the significance of Cather’s letters to interpreting My Ántonia, or Cather’s life and work more broadly;

• Exploring unique or surprising connections between My Ántonia — or Cather’s life and work more broadly — with the work of other 20th or 21st century writers or artists;

• Examining My Ántonia in light of its regional and/or environmental setting, particularly considering new approaches to the global Midwest, the rural/urban divide in United States culture, and mobility;

• Exploring representations of community in My Ántonia, including dancing, cooking/food sharing, folkways, or religious traditions;

• New approaches to reading and teaching My Ántonia, especially through participatory culture, such as fanfiction, derivative works, fan studies, literary pilgrimage, and others.

Please send 350-500 word proposals of individual papers to the Willa Cather Foundation’s education director, Tracy Tucker, at, by February 1, 2018, along with your preferred email and college or university affiliation. Papers will be accepted by March 1, 2018. While there is no set word count; papers should be no longer than twenty minutes when read.

Willa Cather at American Literature Assoc. (CLOSED)

Willa Cather at American Literature Assoc. (CLOSED)
Willa Cather at American Literature Assoc. (CLOSED)

The Willa Cather Foundation seeks proposals for two panels for the 29th annual conference of the American Literature Association at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco on May 24-27, 2018.

As 2018 is the centenary of the publication of Cather’s My Ántonia, we will dedicate one panel to new interpretations of this pivotal novel. Topics for consideration might include:

  • Exploring My Ántonia in light of immigration and diversity in the United States, from the late 19th century through today;
  • My Ántonia in the classroom, with a focus on how to approach the difficult subjects of the text, such as suicide and xenophobia;
  • New readings of My Ántonia made possible by Cather’s letters;
  • My Ántonia in light of its regional and/or environmental setting, particularly considering new approaches to the global Midwest or the rural/urban divide in United States culture.

For our second panel, we seek the best in contemporary Cather scholarship, including, but not limited to:

  • Cather and her contemporaries;
  • Innovative approaches to Cather's form, and to her understanding of literary form;
  • Critical interpretations of Cather's work in relation to the arts;
  • Transdisciplinary perspectives of Cather in the context of globalization, gender, sexuality, capitalism, and/or modernity.

Please submit proposals (no longer than a page with a header including name, institutional affiliation, and e-mail contact information) no later than December 18, 2017 to Charmion Gustke, Please attach your abstract as a Word document and paste the text into your e-mail message. Acceptances will be issued by January 15, 2018. Papers accepted for these panels will not undergo any additional level of review—acceptance for the panels constitutes acceptance for the conference.

For further information about the conference generally, please consult the ALA website at or contact the conference director, Professor Leslie Petty via email (, with specific questions. For questions about the Cather panels, please contact Charmion Gustke.

16th International Willa Cather Seminar in Pittsburgh (Closed)

16th International Willa Cather Seminar in Pittsburgh (Closed)
16th International Willa Cather Seminar in Pittsburgh (Closed)

Beyond Nebraska: Willa Cather’s Pittsburgh

The 16th International Willa Cather Seminar

Dates: June 11-17, 2017
Location: Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Dr. Timothy Bintrim, Saint Francis University
Dr. James Jaap, Penn State Greater Allegheny
Site Director:
Dr. Faith Barrett, Duquesne University

Willa Cather left Nebraska in 1896 and for the next decade made Pittsburgh her primary residence. During these ten years, Pittsburgh rapidly expanded as steel, glass, and other industries grew to meet the demand of a growing nation. Immigrants and African Americans flocked to the city as jobs were readily available, and the city nearly tripled in population during this decade. This was Cather’s first experience in an urban, multi-ethnic and -racial city, and she took advantage of all the city had to offer. She worked as an editor, teacher, reviewer, and freelance writer. She cultivated friendships and mixed with all sorts of Pittsburghers. She published extensively—not only hundreds of profiles and reviews, but also more than thirty short stories; a collection of poetry, April Twilights (1903); and The Troll Garden, her first collection of stories. After moving to New York in 1906, she continued visiting Pittsburgh until 1916, writing parts of several novels at the McClung residence. Despite the importance Pittsburgh played in her life, much remains undiscovered. This seminar will further explore the influences of Pittsburgh on Cather’s life and career.

We invite proposals on a wide range of topics within Cather studies, but particularly the following:

Cather’s Pittsburgh Writings
Signed, pseudonymous, and unsigned works written in the city
Daily journalism, editorial work, reviews, and correspondence
The lost Pittsburgh novel (Fanny)
Works with Western Pennsylvania settings and references
Echoes of Pittsburgh in Cather’s novels

Cather’s Pittsburgh Life
Life in boardinghouses and with the McClungs
Family, friends, and acquaintances
Clubs, excursions, and other diversions
Forays to New York, Virginia, Washington, and her first trips abroad
Cather’s experience of music: symphonic, operatic, sacred, classical, folk, popular, and jazz
The Carnegie International and art in public and private collections

Pittsburgh’s People and International Connections
Cather’s place in Pittsburgh’s diverse literary pantheon
Cather’s troubled relationship with race and ethnicity: representations and elisions
Social class, immigration, and Americanization; religious and political minorities
Cather’s journalistic commentary on international affairs

Please send 500-word proposals of individual papers to the Willa Cather Foundation’s education director, Tracy Tucker, at, by February 15, 2017. If your paper is accepted, you will be notified by March 15, 2017. You will need to submit your final paper by May 1, 2017. Papers should be 8-10 pages in length (20 minutes when read).


17th International Willa Cather Seminar - Seeking Proposals for 2019 (Closed)

17th International Willa Cather Seminar - Seeking Proposals for 2019 (Closed)
17th International Willa Cather Seminar - Seeking Proposals for 2019 (Closed)

The Willa Cather Foundation invites proposals for the 17th International Willa Cather Seminar, to be held in June 2019. Seminar directors work alongside WCF staff and Board 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, Massachusetts; and Chicago. Seminars traditionally last 5-­6 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 WCF staff and Education Committee collaborate with, advise, and support directors and partner institutions in order to ensure that seminar experiences are successful and satisfying for all.

For questions or to submit a proposal, please contact Andrew Jewell, Education Committee Chair (, and Tracy Tucker, Education Director of the Willa Cather Foundation ( Deadline for proposals is February 1, 2017.

2016 Spring Conference & Symposium (CLOSED)

2016 Spring Conference & Symposium (CLOSED)
2016 Spring Conference & Symposium (CLOSED)

“Both Bitter and Sweet”: Cather, Literature, and the Great War
June 2-4, 2016 | Red Cloud, Nebraska

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. Topics 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 ( Please see the full CFP for details.