Sherwood Anderson’s 1928 Tar: A Midwest Childhood opens with the title character remembering his childhood and acknowledging that he has, within this narrative, created his childhood midwestern hometown almost entirely from his imagination, “one place all his own, the product of his own fancy” (4). “To tell the truth, Tar was trying,” the narrator promises, “to get at something it was almost impossible to get at in the reality of life,” the inevitable changes that disrupt and discount the intertwined memories of childhood and place (7-8). Anderson’s Tar works with and against tropes often associated with the Midwest, insular small towns and innocent childhoods, and so stands in a long line of midwestern writers firmly grounding childhood and child characters in a specific place.
For this proposed session for the Annual Symposium of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (May 14-16, 2020 in Chicago), I invite 350-word proposals for papers considering literary representations of midwestern childhoods. Please send proposals and a 50-word bio including your institutional affiliation to Maggie Morris Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 10, 2019.