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Tara Penry is presenting a paper at the Western Literature Association conference in Minneapolis this week. Her paper, “Blame It On Nature: Bret Harte’s Deadly Miscegenation Plots. . . And One Exception,” explores the various ways that popular short story writer Harte approached the subject of interracial marriage in his fiction during the late 19th century. The paper springs from Penry’s book-in-progress, “Extravagant Fiction: Bret Harte’s American Art,” a study of the artful contradictions in the 40-year corpus of a major early writer of the American West. While in Minneapolis, Penry will cross the Mississippi to visit the Minnesota Historical Society library in St. Paul, where she will conduct research on a western magazine that once flourished with the support of the Northern Pacific Railroad.