Center for Basque Studies faculty grad students, staff, authors, and visitors enjoyed taking part in the 50th annual Western Literature Association that took place October 14-17 at Harrah’s Reno. The event, the main conference of its kinds, brings scholars in from across the US and internationally, with several attendees making the long trip from the Basque Country to take part. As Basque books editor, I was there with a table displaying many of our Western-themed titles (and others not so Western themed). Center visitors, grad students, and friends participated in the following roundtables:
- In the panel Decolonizing Frontiers: Gender, Race, Region, UPV researcher Mercedes Albert-Llacer presented “The Significance of Youth in the New Literary West.”
- In the panel Robert Laxalt: Regional and Transnational Context, chaired by Center friend and author (of Robert Laxalt: The Voice of the Basques in American Literature), David Rio presented, “Robert Laxalt’s Writing: Beyond Regional and National Borders,” Gretchen Skivington of Great Basin College (and the winner of our inaugural fiction contest presented “Sweet Promised Land in The Basque Hotel in Echeverria,” and Monika Madinabeitia of Mondragon University presented “Inherited Basque-American Legacies: Robert Laxalt´s Sweet Promised Land and Vince Juaristi’s Back to Bizkaia.”
- In the panel Basque Voices in the American West, also chaired by David Rio, Martin Etchart, author of among other things The Good Oak and The Last Shepherd (from the University of Nevada Press), and Gregory Martin, author of among other things, Mountain City (available from North Point Press), spoke about the challenges and opportunities for Basque writers.
- In the panel Transnational and Global Cinematic Wests, Jesús Ángel González of the University of Cantabria presented “Spanish-Basque Transnational Postwesterns.”
- In the panel Performing Wests: Music and Masculinity, Angel Chaparro Sainz of the University of the Basque Country presented “A Musical Map of the West: Willy Vlautin’s Urban Quest.”
- In the panel Crossing Borders: Engaging in the Borderlands of Race and Identity, Center graduate student Iker Saitua presented, ““From ‘Black Bascos’ to ‘White’ Subjects: Basque Sheepherders and Racial Narratives in the American West.”
- Finally, Robert Laxalt was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award, which was accepted by his daughter, Monique Laxalt, author of The Deep Blue Memory, with Warren Lerude, author of Robert Laxalt: The Story of a Storyteller, also on hand to celebrate the work of his good friend, mentor, and colleague.