Welcome to Portland
Sitting at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers and fifty miles from the Pacific Ocean, Portland Oregon is one of the quintessential Pacific Northwestern cities—a gateway to the Willamette Valley to the South, the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia Gorge to the East, and the Pacific coastline to the West (travelportland.com). Its history epitomizes crucial aspects of US modernity in this region, including its early reliance on extractive industries in timber and fisheries, its complex and often fraught interactions with Native American communities and sovereignties, its prominent labor movement, its networks of cultural and commercial trade across the Pacific Rim, and its more recent prominence in the leisure and the digital tech sectors. A city of political engagement and activism, Portland is famous for its post-1960s countercultural scene, its progressive politics, and its notoriety during the Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests. It has also been a pioneer of public policies promoting environmental sustainability, including a longstanding commitment to green infrastructure.
Rich in cultural offerings, Portland is the home of important regional art museums, performance venues, and literary institutions including the Portland Art Museum, the Portland Opera, The Oregon Symphony, and the famous Powell’s Bookstore. It has also established itself as one of the top culinary destinations in the US. Celebrated and parodied for its eccentricity, hipsters, and artisanal businesses on the IFC sketch comedy show, Portlandia, the city continues to earn its reputation as one of America’s most vibrant and idiosyncratic urban communities.
Portland is a city of universities and colleges, including Portland State University, Lewis and Clark College, Reed College, the University of Portland, Portland Community College, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and Oregon Health and Sciences University. It also hosts facilities owned by the University of Oregon and Oregon State University and is within 120 miles of the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Willamette University.
Portland State University has one of just a handful of MA programs in publishing in the US, and Portland has a vibrant small press scene. Publishers include Ooligan (PSU), Tin House Books (Brooklyn/Portland), Bitch Media and its quarterly magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, and a number of comics and graphic narrative publishers, including Dark Horse Comics and Oni Press. Portland is also home to Portland Literary Arts (literary-arts.org), a major sponsor of talks by leading writers and public intellectuals.
Getting to and around Portland
Portland’s PDX airport is served by nonstop flights to most major US cities. It also hosts nonstop international flights from London, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Ontario, Toronto, Frankfurt, and Tokyo. The AMTRAK station has direct service to Vancouver BC, Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles. For drivers, Portland is on I-5, connecting to Seattle in the North and Northern California to the South, and I-84, connecting to Boise and Salt Lake City. Getting around the city is easy with its MAX Lightrail (which connects to the airport) and its downtown streetcar network, as well as TRIMET local buses. It runs a Bikeshare program, Biketown, and hosts over 300 miles of dedicated bikeways. Portland is also served by more than 10 taxi companies as well as Uber and Lyft.
The local organizing committee has selected the Portland Hilton Downtown as the primary location for conference session and guest accommodations (hilton.com/en/hotels/pdxphhh-hilton-portland-downtown). The Hilton Duniway Portland, catty-cornered from the Hilton Downtown, will host several additional sessions. Both hotels are located in the heart of downtown Portland, surrounded by shopping, dining, the Portland Museum of Art, Portland’s 5 Center for the Arts, within easy walking distance to Powell’s Books and the Portland waterfront, and providing easy access to a wide range of other neighborhoods in this exciting and vibrant city.
Portland has a national reputation for its restaurant scene; it was ranked as America’s #1 food city by the Washington Post in 2015. Plentiful restaurant and food options exist close to the conference hotel. Portland is also renowned for its legendary microbrew culture, with over 100 breweries and brewpubs throughout the city (northwestmicrobreweries.com/portland-metro). The recent growth in craft distilleries has led to lively clusters of distilleries in town, most with tasting rooms (https://portlandfoodanddrink.com/your-guide-to-distilleries-in-portland-oregon). Wine bars and urban wineries abound, serving wines crafted in Portland (pdxurbanwine.com) as well as throughout Oregon’s rich and varied wine regions (oregonwine.org). Another signature of the Portland culinary scene are the numerous “pods” of Food Carts scattered in parking lots, parks, and street corners in nearly every neighborhood (foodcartsportland.com).
Portland houses numerous art and cultural institutions, including galleries and museums (padaoregon.org).It is the home to the Portland Art Museum (PAM); with a collection of over 42,000 items, including the collection of Clement Greenberg (acquired in 2001), it is one of the largest art institutions on the West coast. Its 2005 renovation added the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, a major new exhibition space for the city with collections of Modernist Art by northwest artists including Carl Morris, Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, C. S. Price, and Jacob Lawrence, and their contemporary Native American and American Indian collections. PAM is also the home of the Northwest Film Center (NWFC); its programs, including three annual film festivals, serve as catalysts for cultural appreciation, conversation, and collaboration around new ways of seeing in the Northwest and beyond.
Music and Performance
Portland hosts a rich and varied music and performance scene. It is home to the Portland Opera, the Oregon Symphony, the Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Third Angle New Music group, several theater companies, and a wide range of live music and comedy venues as well.
Gardens and Public Space
Portland contains over 10,000 acres of parkland, including extensive public space along both the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Highlights include the International Rose Test Garden, with over 650 rose varieties, and The Portland Japanese Garden, often regarded as one of the finest examples of a traditional Japanese garden outside of Japan. Forest Park, in the West of the city, was designed by the Olmstead Brothers and has over 70 miles of hiking trails and offers panoramic views of the city and the Cascade Range.
Portland’s MLS soccer team, the Timbers, and its NWSL Team, the Thorns, play at Providence Park in downtown Portland. The Portland Trailblazers play at the Moda Center in the Rose Quarter.
The Oregon Zoo is located in Washington Park in the hills southwest of Downtown Portland and is easily accessible by MAX Light Rail. Also in Washington Park is the Portland’s Children’s Museum. Other Museums aimed toward families include the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (which offers guided tours of the USS Blueback, a decommissioned submarine) and the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.
Portland is a mecca for all sorts of urban outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, and canoeing. For skiers, the national historic landmark Timberline Lodge, one of the WPA’s most stunning building achievements, rests at the base of Oregon’s majestic Mount Hood only 60 miles from Downtown Portland and offers skiing and lodging 12 months a year (it was also featured in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as the exterior of the fictional Overlook Hotel).
Local Organizing Committee
- Paul Peppis, Professor of English and Director of the Oregon Humanities Center, University of Oregon
- Helen Southworth, Professor of English, University of Oregon
- Mark Whalan, Robert D. and Eve E. Horn Professor of English, University of Oregon
- Honor O’Sullivan, Graduate Assistant, English, University of Oregon
- Geneviève Brassard, Associate Professor of English, University of Portland
- Jay Dickson, Professor of English and Humanities, Reed College
- Josh Epstein, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Studies Advisor of English, Portland State University
- Anita Helle, Professor English Emerita, Oregon State University
- Elizabeth Sheehan, Associate Professor of English, Oregon State University
- Rishona Zimring, Professor of English and Director of Gender Studies, Lewis & Clark College
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of English
Robert D. and Eve E. Horn Endowment
Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities
Center for Environmental Futures
Creative Writing Program
The School of Writing, Literature, and Film