Skip to Main Content
Mobile Menu

The Western Studies Center

Student researchers Joe Cavanaugh and Cindy Sikkema, illustrator James Lloyd, and faculty director Tara Penry at the Thomas Wolfe Society poster exhibit, May 2013

Student researchers Joe Cavanaugh and Cindy Sikkema, illustrator James Lloyd, and faculty director Tara Penry at the Thomas Wolfe Society meeting, May 2013. HWSC was a cosponsor of the conference on the theme of “Thomas Wolfe and the West,” and sponsor of the student research exhibit.

Our Mission and Activities

The Hemingway Western Studies Center supports research and events leading to an understanding of the American West.

Since 2011, primary activities for the western studies center include bringing speakers to Boise, supporting student research, and publishing books relating to Idaho and the Intermountain West. The Center cosponsored the Thomas Wolfe Society meeting in Boise in May 2013, on the theme of “Thomas Wolfe in the West.” In 2013-14 the Center launched Western Writers Online, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of shorter public scholarship on the writers of the North American West.

Historically, the center has housed an interdisciplinary book series, the Idaho Center for the Book, and the Idaho Film Collection. Under our current organization, the Idaho Center for the Book now lives in the Art Department under the leadership of Dr. Stephanie Bacon, and the Idaho Film Collection has moved to BSU’s interdisciplinary Cinema and Digital Media program, directed by Dr. Pete Lutze of the Communication Department. The Idaho Writers Archive at Albertsons Library is another project supported by the center.


Western Writers Series logoIdaho Artists A Contemporary Selection


News Highlights

Summer 2014 – The 2013 issue of the Thomas Wolfe Review is out, featuring “A Motorcar Runs through It: A Triptych Study of Thomas Wolfe’s West,” by former HWSC director Tara Penry, with BSU student researchers Cindy Sikkema (BA, English 2014) and Joe Cavanaugh (BA, English 2013) and student artist James Lloyd (BFA, Illustration 2013. The original poster display was funded by the Hemingway Western Studies Center, and a poster-sized reproduction in the Thomas Wolfe Review was funded by a grant from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University.

May 2014 – Tara Penry has stepped down as director of the Center. Her successor has not yet been named.

Oct 2013Western Writers Online has launched at The successor to the print Western Writers Series (1972-2006), the web journal and research hub debuted at the Western Literature Association conference in Berkeley, California, October 9. Our Articles section is live now. Future plans for the site include a Resources section, Reprints, and Reviews.

June 2013 – Jamie Lynn Groves (MS, Raptor Biology, expected May 2014) and Michael S. Beaudoin (MA, History, expected May 2014) will receive HWSC research grants this summer to support their respective studies of burrowing owl nesting behavior and northwest cougar management plans. Ms. Groves will present her research at the Raptor Research Foundation Annual Conference in Argentina. Mr. Beaudoin will present his findings at BSU in September 2013. Congratulations to Jamie Lynn Groves, Michael Beaudoin, and their faculty sponsors, Dr. Jim Belthoff and Dr. Lisa Brady.

This is the second year of the HWSC summer research grant for graduate research in western studies. The grant has so far supported six graduate students from three Boise State colleges in conducting research under the direction of a Boise State faculty advisor.

May 24-25, 2013 – BSU undergraduates Joe Cavanaugh (English, Dec 2013), Cindy Sikkema (English, May 2014), and James Lloyd (Art Illustration, May 2013) shared their research and creative work in a poster exhibit at the Thomas Wolfe Society meeting in Boise, under the direction of faculty advisor Tara Penry. Printing and design costs for the exhibit were supported by the Hemingway Western Studies Center.

December 2012 – Western Writers Online is one of three core projects in the nascent BSU Digital Humanities program to receive a $500,000 challenge grant from the NEH. The grant supports the creation of Idaho’s first Digital Humanities program, housed in the Arts and Humanities Institute at BSU. The other core projects included in the grant are Melville’s Marginalia (Prof Steven Olsen-Smith, director) and Stories of Idaho (Prof Leslie Madsen-Brooks, director). The Arts and Humanities Institute must raise an additional $1.5 million to qualify for the $500,000 challenge grant.

See more news and events –>

Our Name

When Boise State University founded its Western Studies Center in the 1980s, Hemingway family members graciously allowed use of their name, honoring the celebrity writer who loved the region. To find out more about our namesake author, researchers may visit sites below. These sites are not affiliated with Boise State University or with the Hemingway Western Studies Center.

The Hemingway Society – Premier research community devoted to the author’s life and work

Online Resources at the JFK Library – Articles, Photos, Links, and more

Hemingway in Sun Valley – Essays from the Sun Valley Guide, a free quarterly magazine

Hemingway’s love of the outdoors – Excerpt from A New Literary History of America, edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009)

Freelance writer Allie Baker’s Idaho-based Hemingway Project

The Hemingway home in Ketchum, Idaho, is occupied today by offices of The Nature Conservancy.



Return to English Department