CFP: [American] Essays about Midwestern Places

full name / name of organization: 
Linda Elizabeth Peterson
contact email: 

Essays about place

Call for proposals
for the 38th annual meeting of the
Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars, Creative Writers, and
May 8-10, 2008
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Scott Russell Sanders has written recently, “We’re likely to flood, pave,
poison, or otherwise abuse land if we think of it merely as property or as
raw material for human designs. To think of land more intimately, more
reverently, we need the help of art.”

What land, what place do you find essential? Why? What are the richest,
deepest stories you can tell about its many facets? While many of us feel
connections to particular places, especially when some part of our
childhood or identity is wedded to that place, we often have a basic
illiteracy about the natural and human histories of these placesâ€"a
knowledge of the flora and fauna, of the geological and human activity
that have shaped it, of the threats it faces in the present or the abuses
it’s undergone in the past. We drift down river and tell stories about
what happened to us, but forget to identify what's on the banks, or
explain the river's shifting course over the centuries, or describe the
history of peoples whose lives and cultures were shaped by it, or how
humanity has, in turn, shaped it.

In “Buckeye,” Sanders calls for “new maps, living maps and stories” of our
home ground, especially the Midwest. What acts of attention can you offer
that will fill in the many gaps in knowledge and map a route to a new
sense of reverence for one specific place?

For the 2008 meeting of SSML, we are putting together a session focusing
on essays about Midwestern places. We invite you to consider proposing an
essay (or excerpt from a longer work of literary nonfiction). Please note
that you must be a member of SSML in order to present. See more
information about SSML at

We are again seeking essays that engage the particulars of specific
Midwestern places in ways that may indeed be grounded in personal
experience but seek also to mine substantially the natural, environmental,
civic, cultural, and/or geologic histories of such places.

Please send a brief proposal (less than one page) by October 1 to both of
us. Either paper or electronic submissions are acceptable.

Linda Elizabeth Peterson
227 Anspach
Dept. of English
Central Michigan University
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859

Laura Julier
235 Bessey Hall
Dept. of Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
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Received on Mon Aug 06 2007 - 13:42:59 EDT