Literatures of the West Coast • University of Victoria

Graduate Program, Department of English

Literatures of the West Coast Course Offerings 2011

Starting in January:


When Theodore Roethke moved to Seattle in 1947 to teach at the University of Washington, he entered a period of transformation: his poetry, previously characterized by its precise formalism and autobiographical emphasis, became increasingly expansive and marked by ecological attentiveness. The course will account for the importance of this shift in terms of Roethke’s career, of his powerful influence as a teacher, and of contemporary directions in American poetry at large. It will examine the emergence of a “Northwest school,” composed of Roethke’s most famous students, including Carolyn Kizer, James Wright, David Wagoner, Richard Hugo, and Tess Gallagher—all of whom acquired national prominence in the later decades of the twentieth century. In so doing, the course will concentrate both on the poetry itself and on the material aspects of the literary culture of the region, such as the journal Poetry Northwest, edited first by Kizer and later by Wagoner. The course will also examine attempts by critics and anthologists (such as Robin Skelton and David Biespiel) to define a regional canon, and, via Skelton, it will address the question of the relevance of the Northwest school to poets in Canada. The course will be of particular interest to students in the Literatures of the West Coast concentration, and will also appeal to students with interests in American poetry and in environmentally oriented criticism. Major topics will include: American literary history; theories of influence; representations of nature; canonization; formalist, confessional, and Deep Image poetry; and feminist poetics. Students will be encouraged to adopt a range of critical methods, but the course will place particular emphasis on theories of influence— beginning with, but not limited to, the contemporary studies of Walter Jackson Bate (1970) and Harold Bloom (1973)—and on ecocritical approaches. The Library’s Special Collections will afford students opportunities to pursue archival research projects. In addition to the above, the course will take up what I’m calling “poetic problems,” or interpretive cruxes, as they relate to issues of influence, schools, and aesthetic strategies. I’m interested in a) the interpretive difficulties that poems sometimes present, and b) the possibilities that such difficulties provide for making broader claims about the history of American poetry and of the literature of the Pacific Northwest.

Instructor: Nicholas Bradley


Jeffers letters: first volume newly published

The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, with Selected Letters of Una Jeffers: Volume One, 1890-1930.

A long-awaited contribution to Jeffers studies.

Haida delegation to examine cultural treasures at Pitt Rivers Museum

This September a group from Haida Gwaii will be traveling to Oxford University to examine, discuss, and share knowledge about several Haida Nation cultural treasures at the Pitt Rivers Museum. They will also bring home the remains of an ancestor.

For more information you can:

• visit the Haida Repatriation Committee‘s page on the event,
• read the Pitt Rivers Museum press release,
• read the news story at the Oxford University website,
• and view the Pitt Rivers Museum Haida Collection Flickr Photostream put together by Cara Krmpotich.

Tor House aerial view

Robinson Jeffers‘s Tor House, seen from above as part of the California Coastal Records Project.

Green Portland

Assuming everyone plays along, the Oregon Sustainability Center, now planned for a vacant lot in the middle of the city of Portland, will be by far the largest building designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, the most stringent green-building program in the world.

University funding in the U.S. Pacific West

Nowhere in the 2008-9 academic year was the damage more sudden and severe than in the five states of the Pacific West.

CFP: LWC Graduate Conference 2009

University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
October 8-10, 2009

Writers from Canada, the United States, and the First Nations have historically attempted to
define and comprehend the North and South American West Coast.  Until recently, criticism has
been limited to nationalistic, historic, and hemispheric theories among other more traditional
approaches. The emergence of New Regionalism has afforded a focus on spanning borders and
considering these literatures in new ways. This year’s graduate conference theme encourages
discussion of place as it relates to literatures of the West Coast.  We are interested in receiving
proposals on the following related topics:

  • Hemispheric studies/literatures
  • Place-based writing in any genre or field
  • Environmental literature, comparative literature, borderlands writing
  • Ecocriticism, ecophilosophy, ecopoetry, ecopedagogy, and ecocomposition
  • New Regionalism, Bioregionalism, and Post Regionalism
  • Asian American, Indigenous North American, and culturally diasporic literatures
  • What it means to discuss “Literatures of the West Coast”

Speakers will include literary critic Laurie Ricou, poet Patrick Lane, and poet/professor Jay
, among others.

The University of Victoria is located just outside Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia.
Victoria’s airport, about 30 minutes from campus, serves most major carriers. Victoria is
accessible by ferry from Tsawwassen, BC (just south of Vancouver), or from Seattle, Port
Angeles, and Anacortes, Washington.

Proposals and short bios should be no more than one page, single-spaced.  Full papers should be
no more than 10 pages double-spaced.

For additional information about the conference, including presentation formats, submissions,
submission guidelines, plenary speakers, or any other considerations please contact:
Amber McMillan and Leina Pauls at lwcconference2009 [at]

How to Submit
Please submit proposals via e-mail at lwcconference2009 [at]
Graduate student registration fee is $35.00 (CDN)
All proposals must be submitted by August 21, 2009.