Published: Oct. 12, 2011

John McPhee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Encounters With the Archdruid" and "Coming Into the Country," will receive the Wallace Stegner Award from the University of Colorado Boulder's Center of the American West on Oct. 27.

The center's highest award will be presented at a 7 p.m. event in the Old Main Chapel on the CU-Boulder campus. The evening will feature a discussion with McPhee conducted by Patty Limerick, professor of history and chair and faculty director of the Center of the American West, and Charles Wilkinson, distinguished professor and Moses Lasky Professor of Law at CU-Boulder.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and people are encouraged to arrive early.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of McPhee's "Encounters With the Archdruid," a book Limerick has long heralded as the Center of the American West's "founding text" because of its inspiring demonstration of civil dialogue on contentious issues. McPhee also is the author of "Basin and Range" (1981), "In Suspect Terrain" (1983), "Rising from the Plains" (1986), "The Control of Nature" (1989) and "Assembling California" (1993).

"Each time I have assigned McPhee's 'Encounters With the Archdruid' to a class, I take great pleasure in reading it again," said Limerick. "Since I assign it in nearly every course I teach, that means I may be coming up on my 50th reading of it. If there is anyone who cares about the West but who has not read this book, it's time to take action."

Each year, the Center of the American West presents the Wallace Stegner Award to an individual who has made a sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the West through literature, art, history, or lore of the West. Past recipients include Tom McGuane, Sandra Day O'Connor, Ivan Doig, John Echohawk, Billy Frank, Terry Tempest Williams, John Nichols, Vine Deloria Jr., Ted Turner and many more. This year's award was made possible by Alan and Carol Ann Olson.

CU-Boulder's Center of the American West addresses a variety of regional issues, including water management, relationships between federal agencies and communities and economies, land planning, Native American identity, recent art and literature, and the balance of power between tradition and innovation in Western life. The center takes as its mission the creation of forums for the respectful exchange of ideas in pursuit of solutions to the region's difficulties.

For more information visit the Center of the American West's website at or call 303-492-4879.

John McPhee (© Yolanda Whitman 2010)