W.D. Howells Society Panels at the American Literature Association Conference, May 21-24, 2020 (UPDATED DEADLINE)

deadline for submissions: 
January 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
W.D. Howells Society
contact email: 

The William Dean Howells Society welcomes proposals for two sessions at the 31st annual conference of the ALA in San Diego, CA from May 21-24, 2020.



Though born and raised in Ohio, William Dean Howells is often considered the prime shaper and protector of what Nancy Glazener terms the “northeastern urban bourgeoisie” because of his stewardship of the elite east coast literary magazines The Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s. Inspired by our transition from Boston back to the West Coast for ALA 2020, for this panel we seek presentations on Howells’s equally important relationship with the American West, broadly construed.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Howells’s upbringing in the Midwest (or the “Old Northwest”).
  • Howells’s personal and professional relationships with Western writers like Mark Twain and Bret Harte.
  • The representation of Western characters in his novels (their dialect, their worldviews, etc.).
  • Comparisons between Howells’s east coast realism and the naturalism of California writers like Frank Norris and Jack London.
  • Readings of Western settings in his novels, such as the divorce sequence in A Modern Instance, or a discussion of Howells’s lesser-known The Leatherwood God, which Edwin Cady figured as “his only true Western novel.”



With the 100th anniversary year of William Dean Howells’ death falling a few weeks before this year’s ALA conference, the William Dean Howells Society welcomes submissions on any aspect of Howells’ life, career, influence, and writing, including but not limited to his novels, short stories, plays, poems, travel writing, and literary and cultural criticism. Papers that situate their particular topics within the history and possible futures of the reading and study of Howells are especially welcome.


Please send 250-500 word proposals to jsampso5@jhu.edu by *January 30 2020. *Please note if you will require A/V for your presentation.