Statement on the TAAF Grant Read

Onoto Watanna’s Cattle at 100: Indomitable Women in the West During the Chinese Exclusion Era

University of Calgary and Chinese Cultural Centre, July 27-30, 2023

Deadline for Proposals (extended): September 30, 2022
You are invited to propose a scholarly paper, panel, or roundtable, or more public-facing creative presentation, performance, or screening to a conference designed to explore the career of Asian North American writer Winnifred Eaton Reeve (1875-1954) and her contexts.

The Montreal-born Eaton, sister of author Edith Eaton (“Sui Sin Far”), is recognized as the first Asian North American novelist. She published Miss Numé of Japan (1898), A Japanese Nightingale (1901), and other bestselling novels under the Japanese pen-name “Onoto Watanna”, a controversial persona that Eaton assumed for over two decades in denial of her Chinese ancestry.

Eaton was also an early Hollywood screenwriter, the first female head of Universal Studios’ scenario department, a prolific journalist, a poet, and a versatile author of fiction in a variety of modes, including naturalism, realism and middlebrow. Her masterful but little known naturalist novel Cattle (1923) and her western novel His Royal Nibs (1925) were written and set in Alberta.

The conference, which has been organized on the centenary of the publication of Eaton’s novel Cattle by the team who developed the Winnifred Eaton Archive, seeks to explore Eaton’s transnational and multi-genre career beyond her Japanese phase, particularly in response to newly recovered and digitized works by her, and to newly situate her within contexts including the Canadian west, Canadian literature, middlebrow fiction, film, Indigenous studies and studies of immigration, race, and gender..

2023 is also the centenary of the passage of Canada’s Chinese Immigration Act, sometimes referred to as Canada’s Chinese Exclusion Act. We invite presenters and attendees to consider Eaton’s controversial masquerade and complex representations of race in her work against the backdrop of over a century of anti-Asian racism and violence in North America and within a history of the Chinese diaspora.

We welcome individual or collaborative proposals for papers, panels, and roundtables on topics below:

We are particularly interested in:

We continue to accept proposals on:

  • The literary and cinematic works of Winnifred Eaton/Onoto Watanna and her peers (late 19th/early 20th-century writers)
  • Eaton’s rich oeuvre: fiction, journalism, screenplays, drama, poetry
  • Eaton’s transnational career (US, Canada, and Jamaica)
  • Eaton, modernism, and cosmopolitanism
  • The politics of literary recovery
  • Teaching with the Winnifred Eaton Archive
  • Digital Humanities and Asian North American literature and culture
  • Eaton and Canadian nationalism
  • Eaton and the Calgary literary community
  • Early film, especially by women filmmakers and/or about the West
  • Eaton’s adaptations: film, theatre, and source materials
  • Early North American immigrant writing and mixed-race kinship
  • Historic Asian North American literature and culture
  • Asian North Americans in the West
  • Prairie/Western literature
  • Transnational North American literature during the Exclusion Era
  • Eaton’s contemporaries and collaborators
  • Progressive-Era writing by women
  • Stenography and authorship in the Progressive Era

We also welcome creative proposals (for example, staged readings of plays or scripts by or about Eaton; film screenings; and more) and more public-facing work.

Proposal submissions guidelines:

  • Paper (15-20 mins): 250-300-word abstract and short bio
  • Panel (3-4 presenters): 250-300-word abstract, including presenter names and titles of presentations
  • Roundtable (4-6 speakers): 250-300-word abstract, including speaker names and short bios
  • Creative presentation (individual or collaborative): 250-300 word abstract and short bio

Learn more: