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Dr. Tracy Lassiter Co-Organizes International Conference

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Dr. Tracy Lassiter, assistant professor of English at UNM-Gallup, is co-organizing a conference titled “Visual Depictions of the American West” to be held in Venice, Italy this September.

By: Lee Lamb, Sr. Public Relations Specialist

January 15, 2021 - In this ongoing pandemic, it has been difficult to imagine what the global community will look like beyond the lockdowns, travel restrictions, and virtual world that most humans have had to interact within since the early part of 2020. With the promise of a vaccine, plans for an eventual return to normal in the later part of this year remain in flux, but there is hope that many of the hallmarks of academic life—such as attending conferences, presentations, and other in-person activity—may return by the fall, if not sooner.

Dr. Tracy Lassiter, assistant professor of English at UNM-Gallup, is looking beyond the COVID-19 pandemic by co-organizing an international conference, Visual Depictions of the American West, to be held in Venice, Italy, from September 13 to September 16. While plans for an in-person conference will depend on progress with the ongoing pandemic, Dr. Lassiter says that there is growing confidence that speakers and participants will be able to join together in the fall.

“This conference includes members of an international cohort who have worked on various academic projects together for sixteen years,” she said. “We are prepared for it to be held virtually if necessary, but we enjoy our camaraderie and the chance to include new scholars in our network, which is fostered more readily with in-person meetings.”

Dr. Lassiter also plans to deliver a keynote speech at the conference titled, “Re-Visions: New Perspective of the Old West,” which will address how people see the American West and its people. “The image of the American West with its rugged cowboy taming the landscape is iconic,” explains Dr. Lassiter. “However, that iconography and its myths denigrate or ignore other inhabitants of the region, namely the indigenous populations who existed in the region well before colonization and conquest.”

Through an examination and review of contemporary graphic novels from artists within Native American communities, Dr. Lassiter will present new perspectives of the American West represented by the people who have historically been misrepresented throughout society and history. She further explains that “current graphic novelists tell stories that situate the land and its people in new contexts reflective of how they see themselves, not how they have been perceived by others.” And, through this storytelling, people can better understand history, receive true accounts of old narratives, and have a better appreciation of the American West.

In addition to Dr. Lassiter’s keynote, other panelists are scheduled to deliver remarks, including acclaimed Italian writer, Gianfranco Manfredi, who will focus on the graphic aspects of Tex and the series’ actual debts to the Golden Age of American Western comics. Roy Boney, Jr., is also scheduled to join the conference speakers’ list as well with a presentation that is currently being developed. Boney is a full-blooded Cherokee comic artist, computer animator, and language preservationist from Locust Grove, Oklahoma.

The culminating event of the conference will be a roundtable conversation of all the keynote speakers who will talk about historical depictions of the American West and how those depictions will change as new artists, writers and filmmakers bring fresh perspectives to the Western genre.

“I look forward to being part of this conversation with scholars and creators from all over the world, whether that conversation takes place virtually or in-person,” Lassiter added.

Additional information and conference updates can be found on the conference Website at https://www.venicewestconference.com/.

For more news and information, please visit www.gallup.unm.edu/news

UNM Gallup Article Contact:

Lee Lamb, Sr. Public Relations Specialist | lambc@unm.edu

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