GSHA 2013 Annual Conference

“History, Imagination, and Myth: The American West”

Call for Papers:

The Graduate Student History Association of Claremont Graduate University is pleased to announce its fifth annual spring conference: “History, Imagination, and Myth: The American West.”

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 by Friday, March 1, 2013.


Registration 9:00 – 10:00 am

Registration in Burkle Building Lobby

Session 1: 10:00 – 11:45 pm

Panel 1: Imagining the West
Panel Chair: Stephen Aron, Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Personnel, Department of History,  University of California, Los Angeles and Chair, Autry Institute for the Study of the American West
Location: Burkle 12
Laura Keller, “’As Far as We Could See’: Mythic Space, Place-making and the Corps of Discovery,” Arizona State University
Travis Ross, “The Generation(s) of Memory in California,” University of Utah
Elisse La Barre, “Reconstructing the Instrumental Soundscape of Alta California,” University of California, Santa Cruz
Celeste Menchaca, “Civilizing Wilderness: Racial Visions of the San Gabriel Mountains, 1890-1915,” University of Southern California
Panel 2: The Invisible West
Panel Chair: Joshua Goode, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies & History and Chair of the History Department,  Claremont Graduate University
Location: Burkle 24
Jennifer Thornton, “Murray’s Dude Ranch and the Black American West,” University of California, Riverside
Mary Okin, “Memory and Imagination: The Founding of the State Normal School in California,” San Jose State University
Lucas N.N. Burke, “The Myth of the Model City: The Portland Panthers and the Black Roots of an Urban Reinvention,” University of Oregon
Caroline Bunnell Harris, “Holy Jumpers in Los Angeles: Imagining Religion in the American West,” University of California, Los Angeles

Lunch 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Lunch in Jenkins Courtyard, Burkle Building

Keynote Address 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Keynote Address
“The American West: A Very Short Introduction” by Stephen Aron, Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Personnel, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles and Chair, Autry Institute for the Study of the American West 

Session 2: 2:00 – 3:45 pm

Panel 3: Mythology of the West
Panel Chair: Tamara Venit-Shelton, Assistant Professor of History,  Claremont McKenna College
Location: Burkle 12
Judith N. Tapper, “Saints and Sinners: John Ford and the Myth of the American West,” Claremont Graduate University
Daniel McClure, “Go West and Turn Right: John Wayne’s Reconstruction of America, Vietnam, and the Emerging Culture Wars,” University of California, Irvine
Catherine Newell, “The Strange Case of Dr. von Braun and Mr. Disney: Frontierland, Tomorrowland and America’s Final Frontier,” University of Miami
Priscilla Kilili, “The Politics of Memory: Why Pop Culture has Mythologized our Memory of the American West,” San Jose State University
Panel 4: Ordering of the West
Panel Chair: Stephanie Muravchik, Adjunct Professor of History,  Claremont Graduate University and Associate Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
Location: Burkle 24
Milton Solorzano, “Eastward Bound: Capital and the Development of the West, 1832-1893,” San Jose State University
Daniel Lanza, “Are We Not Men? Frontier Manhood, Queer Anxiety, and the Vietnam War in Norman Mailer and James Dickey’s Hunting Narratives,” Claremont Graduate University
Alexander Lalama, “Sailing Across the Desert: Remapping and Rebuilding Herman Melville’s American Identity in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian,” Claremont Graduate University
Dean Ryuta Adachi, “‘We Can’t Be Like the Chinese’: The Christian-Led Movement to ‘Civilize’ Late-Nineteenth Century Japanese American Laborers,” Claremont Graduate University

Social 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Social in Jenkins Courtyard, Burkle Building