This conference will explore the competition in the American West between myth and meaning. For centuries scholars have imagined their own west creating a mythic conception of place. This is perhaps because the West does not seem to present natural academic and geographic boundaries, making what constitutes “The West,” and its role in American history a site of conflict for numerous reasons. Its borders are not naturally but politically determined by territorial acquisitions. Constraints of dates have not been used to cite the beginning of Western history. Lacking cataclysmic events, “historical turns” have traditionally been centered on the closing of the frontier and its accompanying “Turner Thesis,” though more recently scholars have exploring the opens wounds of a “legacy of conquest.” Earlier ethnocentric conceptions of the West have created a “Burden of Western History” that demands broader examination of diverse people, places and things in this region to challenge both scholarly and personal imaginations. Though this conference will assume a historical perspective on the American West, we welcome papers from multiple disciplinary perspectives on a wide-range of topics including, but are not limited to: art and culture, political change, regionalism, theory, ecology and the environment, religion, literary studies, media studies and memory.
The conference will be held on the campus of Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California on April 6, 2013. Proposals for papers should be made in the form of abstracts of no more than 250 words and submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, March 1, 2013.