About the Conference

The University of South Dakota Department of English will be hosting the biennial John R. Milton Writers’ Conference October 31-November 2, 2013.  The 2013 conference will also be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of South Dakota Review, and the three-day literary event will include readings and book signings by award-winning featured authors, scholarly panel sessions exploring the conference theme of “Memory, Remembrance, Commemoration and the American West” as well as creative writing panels and pop culture sessions.  Other conference highlights include a conference book fair, lunch at the world-famous National Music Museum, as well as a poetry slam sponsored by the Vermillion Literary Project at the Muenster University Center pit lounge.  Conference lunches (with musical entertainment), and a conference banquet will provide opportunities to socialize and interact with other writers, scholars, and conferees.

This year’s visiting featured writers will include Pam Houston, Kwame Dawes, Leanne Howe, Joy Castro, Patrick Hicks, as well as USD faculty authors Fred Arroyo, Natanya Pulley, and Lee Ann Roripaugh.   Prior year’s conferences have brought in well over 100 attendees, including presenting writers and scholars from all across the region and nation—-including even the occasional international conferee.

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. 

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of South Dakota Review, the 2013 conference theme will explore topics or approaches that might include, but aren’t limited to memory, (mis)remembering, remembrance, commemoration and:

• Western American literature, history, and culture;
• broken treaties, obligatory assimilation, as well as post-colonial and/or indigenous studies in American Indian literature, history, and culture;
• the 40th anniversary of Wounded Knee;
• environmental issues and ecocriticism;
• the American West as myth and fantasy space;
• discourses of difference/otherness, including multiculturalism, race, and ethnicity in the American West;
• shifting representations of gender and/or queerness in the American West;
• Manifest Destiny;
• the role of virtual culture, cyberspace as “new frontier,” and simulacra in the American West; and
• 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.

Registration is open to the public and USD alumni/ae are especially welcome.  For detailed conference information, please visit https://miltonconference.wordpress.com or contact the Department of English at (605) 677-5229.

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