Wyoming Arts Council

2011 John R. Milton Writers’ Conference at USD has a real Wyoming flavor

Cody’s Mark Spragg will serve as keynote speaker for the John R. Milton Writers’ Conference at the University of South Dakota October 27-29 in Vermillion, S.D.

Mark Spragg is the author of Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the 2000 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers award, and the novels, The Fruit of Stone, An Unfinished Life, and in 2010, Bone Fire. All four were top-ten Book Sense selections and An Unfinished Life, was chosen by the Rocky Mountain News as the Best Book of 2004. Spragg’s work has been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in Wyoming with his wife, Virginia, with whom he wrote the screenplay for the film version of his novel, An Unfinished Life, starring Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman, and released in 2005.

The three-day literary conference will include readings and book signings by award-winning featured authors, scholarly panel sessions exploring the conference theme of “Outlaw!: Law and (Dis)order in the American West,” as well as creative writing panels and pop culture sessions.  Other conference highlights include a showcase presentation of USD graduate creative writing students, a conference book fair, as well as a poetry slam sponsored by the Vermillion Literary Project at the MuensterUniversityCenter pit lounge featuring poet Kristin Naca. 

This year’s visiting featured writers will include Mark Spragg, Sherwin Bitsui, Kristin Naca, Karen Shoemaker, William Trowbridge, and USD visiting writer David Chan, who will give readings and book signings along with permanent USD creative writing faculty Ed Allen and Lee Ann Roripaugh.

The conference features an infusion of talent from Wyoming: Mark Spragg, Cody; Lee Ann Roripaugh, Laramie native; Robert Roripaugh, Wyoming Poet Laureate emeritus; Paul Bergstraesser, Laramie; Val Pexton, Laramie; Julianne Couch, Laramie (now in Ames, Iowa); Meg Lanker, Laramie; Jeran Artery, Cheyenne; and Michael Shay, Cheyenne.

The biennial John R. Milton Writers’ Conference was established in 1998 to celebrate the life and work of University of South Dakota English Professor and South Dakota Review founder John R. Milton.  The conference pays tribute to John R. Milton’s lifelong engagement with and commitment to Western writers and literature.  With respect to this year’s theme of “Outlaw!: Law and (Dis)Order in the American West,” conferees are invited to submit paper and/or panel proposals that consider (but aren’t limited to) some of the following topics: law and (dis)order in Western American literature, history, and culture; law and (dis)order in relationship to broken treaties, obligatory assimilation, as well as post-colonial and/or indigenous studies in American Indian literature, history, and culture; law and (dis)order in the American West with respect to environmental issues and ecocriticism; outlaw as myth and fantasy space in the American West; outlaw as Other; gender outlaws, and/or queering the American West; borders, border crossings, and boundary transgressions; virtual outlaws, and/or outlaws in the “new frontier” of cyber-space; and representations of outlaws and/or law and (dis)order in popular culture (including, but not limited to, HBO’s Deadwood and Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Westerns (both film and television), graphic novels, and science fiction.

This year’s event is sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Department of English, Barnes & Noble, South Dakota Review, the John R. Milton Endowment and the Wayne S. and Esther M. Knutson Endowment of the USD Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Philip A. Riley, Jr., as well as by grants from the South Dakota Humanities Council.

For detailed conference information, please visit http://miltonconference.wordpress.com or contact the Department of English at (605) 677-5229.

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