Celebrating 50 Years of Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars and Writers

deadline for submissions: 
January 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature
contact email: 

Celebrating 50 Years of Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars and Writers

The 50th Annual Symposium of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

May 20 – May 22, 2021

The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago, IL

Join us in Chicago in May 2021 as we celebrate 50 years of SSML. Founded in 1971, the vision of the society is to “encourage and assist the study of Midwestern literature in whatever directions the insight, imagination, and curiosity of its members may lead.” We are honored and thrilled to be celebrating our anniversary at a prestigious institution in a world-class Midwestern city: “Free and open to the public since 1887, the Newberry is an independent research library whose world famous collection is available to scholars, genealogists, and lifelong learners alike.”

Please note: At the moment, we are planning for an in-person symposium for 2021, but the safety of our members and participants is always paramount. We will continue to monitor the ongoing Covid-19 situation and will make planning adjustments as necessary.


We welcome proposals for panels, individual papers, and roundtables on Midwestern literature, and readings of original creative work with a Midwestern emphasis.

We especially seek proposals that complicate stereotypical notions of the Midwest as a rural, white, “heartland” space. Such papers might take advantage of our conference location in Chicago, or they might articulate the diversity of the Midwestern experience by examining the rich and ongoing tradition of writing by Black, Native American, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ, and disabled authors.

Proposals related to the work of both the 2020 Mark Twain Award winner, Marilynne Robinson, and the 2021 Mark Twain Award winner, Rebecca Makkai, are especially invited.

Please see the website for details on these and other specific panels.

Deadline: no later than Jan. 1, 2021.

Find the link to an online proposal form at ssml.org/symposium.

Student scholarships are also available.  See our website for more information (deadline for student scholarships is also Jan. 1, 2021).