WSU's National Undergraduate Literature Conference Celebrates 20th Anniversary

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University's 20th annual National Undergraduate Literature Conference will bring together 250 college students from across the nation to hone their writing skills by sharing their work and learning from literary masters Norman Mailer, Antonya Nelson, Alan Cheuse, Catherine Bowman, Ron Carlson and Lori Aurelia Williams.

"This year we had more students sign up than ever before," says Carl Porter, co-director for NULC. "In the past 20 years, we've had approximately 2,500 different students from virtually every state attend this conference."

WSU's NULC is the only literature conference in the country that focuses exclusively on undergraduates. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the conference, Porter and co-director Mike Vause added a day to bring in extra speakers such as Nelson and Cheuse, both of whom have made previous appearances at the conference, including its 10th anniversary. 

The conference will begin March 30 at noon in the Special Collections Room of the Stewart Library with the Favorite Poem Project. Civic leaders from the community will recite and discuss their favorite poems with conference attendees, WSU students and community members.

"We really want the community to come and experience the conference," Porter says. "We also want to strengthen the connection our civic leaders have with the arts."

On March 31 at noon, Mailer, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, will host an interactive reading for WSU's Convocation program. Mailer's presentation will consist of a combination of readings and conversation.

"He will read from his work, stop and ask questions or ask for reactions to what he has read," Porter says. "The public will have a chance to come to campus and listen to and interact with one of the greatest authors of the latter half of the 20th century."  

With the exception of a banquet on March 31, all events are open to the public.
"Many of these students come from a great distance and incur a lot of personal expense," Porter says. "It would be great for them to share their works with a large group of people."

For more information on the conference, biographies on the speakers and a complete schedule of events, visit

More About the 2005 NULC Keynote Speakers

Catherine Bowman is the author of the poetry collections "Rock Farm" (1996) and "1-800-Hot-Ribs" (1993). She has been awarded the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and two Yaddo Fellowships. Her poems have appeared in editions of Best American Poetry and other literary magazines, journals and anthologies, including: The Paris Review, River Styx and The Los Angeles Times. In addition to teaching at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., Bowman reports on poetry for National Public Radio's,  "All Things Considered" and is the editor of, "Word Of Mouth: Poems Featured On NPR'S 'All Things Considered'" (2003), an anthology of poems she has reviewed for NPR.

Ron Carlson is the author of several novels, most recently his selected stories "A Kind of Flying" (2003), the novel "The Speed of Light" (2003), and the story collection "At the Jim Bridger" (2003). His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, and other anthologies, such as The Best American Short Stories and The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. He is Foundation Professor and Regents' Professor of English at Arizona State University. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and a National Society of Arts and Letters Literature Award. Carlson teaches creative writing at the graduate and undergraduate level, with a distinct emphasis on craft and the process of writing to find the story.

Alan Cheuse received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University. After college, he traveled to Europe and Mexico. Cheuse published his first story in 1979 at the age of 38. His works include the novels: "The Light Possessed" (1990), and "The Grandmothers' Club" (1988) and the story collection "Lost and Old Rivers" (1998). Cheuse has also written several non-fiction works such as "Fall Out of Heaven: An Autobiographical Journey Across Russia" (1987). He was awarded with a Creative Writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1979; Cheuse has also traveled to Columbia, Uruguay and Chile on a U.S. Information Grant. The New Jersey native serves as book commentator for NPR's "All Things Considered" and calls Washington, D.C. home.

Norman Mailer, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y. by way of Long Branch, N.J., is credited as one of the innovators of the nonfiction novel. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner's works include: "The Naked and The Dead" (1948), "The Spooky Art" (2003) and Hollywood screenplays "An American Dream" (1965) and "Tough Guys Don't Dance" (1987). At nine, Mailer wrote his first story, the 250-page "Invasion From Mars" in a series of notebooks. In 1941, Mailer won Story magazine's college contest while studying at Harvard University where he received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering. Mailer, who served in the South Pacific as a sergeant for the U.S. Army during WWII, became well known as a biographer and even an anti-establishment essayist.

Antonya Nelson was born in Wichita, Kan. in 1961. She attended the University of Kansas and the University of Arizona, where she received a Master's of Fine Arts in 1986. She is the author of many works including: "In the Land of Men" (1992), and "The Expendables" (1990), "Living to Tell" (2000), and "Nobody's Girl" (1998). Her work has also been featured in high-profile magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire and Harper's Magazine. Nelson is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and 2000-2001 Guggenheim Fellowship. She divides her time between Telluride, Col. and Houston, where she shares, with her husband novelist Robert Boswell, the Cullen Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Lori Aurelia Williams adored reading as a child, but she never thought she'd be a writer when she grew up. While studying English at the University of Texas at Austin, she departed from the traditional lecture and composition courses and took a creative writing class on whim. Through that class, she learned she loved and had a gift of storytelling. For her fiction, which combines African-American storytelling with street slang, Williams has been honored with a creative writing scholarship and a James A. Michener Fellowship. Among her works are: "When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune" (2000), "Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues" (2001) and "Broken China" (2005). The Houston native now calls Austin, Texas home.


Carl Porter, co-director NULC
(801) 626-6872 ·

Mikel Vause, co-director NULC
(801) 626-6659 ·


Paul Garcia, office of Media Relations
(801) 626-7212 ·