The Center for Basque Studies and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library are hosting Visions of a Basque American Westerner: An International Conference on the writings of Frank Bergon. The conference is scheduled Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 and 14, at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Scholars and writers from the United States and Europe will discuss and reflect on the work of Bergon during the free and public conference.
In 2017, Basque-Nevadan author, Bergon, donated his complete archival collection to the University’s Jon Bilbao Basque Library. In this collection, there are many drafts with handwritten notes amidst completed manuscripts and published work. Bergon’s work focuses on the history and environment of the American West, which is largely influenced by his Basque heritage.
“This collection is very unique because it allows us to see the person behind the story,” Basque Librarian, Iñaki Arrieta Baro said.”It also shows the story and the transformations each piece went through. This community event we are hosting will highlight this collection, and I’m very excited about it.”
The first day of the conference features an introduction by Bergon and presentations by scholars about different aspects of his work. At 6 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium, Monika Mandinabeitia and Bergon will discuss the book Petra, My Basque Grandmother, written by Madinabeitia about Bergon’s grandmother. At the end of the evening, 15 of Petra’s (Bergon’s grandmother) great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren will perform Basque dances accompanied by musicians Mercedes Mendive, David Romtvedt and Caitlin Belem Romtvedt.
On the second day of the conference, the Center’s Director Xabier Irujo will provide an introduction, followed by speakers Arrieta Baro, David Río, Nancy Cook and David Means. At 6 p.m., Bergon will talk about Basque aspects of his new book, Two-Buck Chuck & The Marlboro Man: The New Old West, which was published March 6. 2019. Then, scholars Madinabeitia and Río will talk about Bergon’s life and work as a Western and Basque American writer.
“There are so many details we’ve put into coordinating this event; it is the largest event we’ve [the center and the library] done so far, but it hasn’t felt like work at all,” Arrieta Baro said. “Everything – from going through the collection to learning about the scholars – is interesting to me.”
While the collection is still in the process of becoming open to the public, the event will highlight many of the important Basque themes in Bergon’s work.
The Center has also made huge strides in publishing through the CBS Press that has published 140 books since its inception, on a myriad of Basque topics by respected academics and Basque authors in the United States and abroad. To learn more about the Center’s publications, visit the online bookstore.
The Center for Basque Studies’ mission is to conduct, facilitate, and disseminate original Basque-related research in the humanities and social sciences, in cooperation with appropriate academic departments at UNR, as well as at other American and foreign universities. The Center for Basque Studies is the leading research and educational institute of its kind outside the European Basque homeland with a unique tutorial Ph.D. program and an active publishing house that produces books on a wide variety of Basque-related topics. For more information, go to www.basquebooks.blogs.unr.edu.