ALA 2022: Teaching the Power of Place and Setting in Ernest Hemingway’s Writing

deadline for submissions: 
January 23, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
The Ernest Hemingway Society
contact email: 

The Ernest Hemingway Society

American Literature Association Conference

May 26-29, 2022

Chicago, IL

Teaching the Power of Place and Setting in Ernest Hemingway’s Writing

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway describes his practice of writing in Parisian cafés, noting: “Some days it went so well that you could make the country so that you could walk into it through the timber to come out into the clearing and work up onto the high ground and see the hills beyond the arm of the lake.” His satisfaction with the results of his work points to his efforts to evoke a sensory experience of place in his settings through descriptions that are immersive and vibrant, inviting readers to see themselves in the countryside, bars, fishing boats, and intimate rooms of his narratives.

The power of Hemingway’s settings is not lost on those who admire his work.  As Terry Tempest Williams remarked in her keynote address to the seventh Hemingway Conference, “Ernest Hemingway has been a powerful mentor, in terms of what it means to create a landscape impressionistically on the page.”  Indeed, for long-time Hemingway readers and scholars, his descriptions of setting and place are recognized as fundamental components of his craftsmanship and markers of his dedication to literary excellence. 

When it comes to teaching Hemingway to students who may not be as familiar with his work, however, how do we teach students to excavate the layers of meaning and understand the purposefulness of style and diction that make up his evocations of setting?

While this is not a new question, as recent scholarship, such as Kevin Maier’s Teaching Hemingway and the Natural World, has provided many useful ways to examine Hemingway’s natural settings in the classroom, this panel seeks to continue and build on these discussions.  Focusing on natural and man-made settings and places, panelists will offer additional pedagogical perspectives and useful tools and technologies for teaching setting and place in Hemingway’s life and work. 

Potential paper topics might include:

  • Defining place (or placelessness) in Hemingway’s settings
  • Hemingway’s style and sentence structure in the description of place and setting
  • Utilizing tools and technologies in the classroom like ArcGIS software or virtual tours
  • The role of Cafés, Bars, Restaurants, or other types of places in Hemingway’s work
  • Representation of places in the natural world and ecocritical readings of setting
  • The influence of Hemingway’s lived experiences on his literary representations of place and setting
  • Examinations and comparisons of cities and rural places in Hemingway’s work
  • Travel and movement in relation to setting and place
  • Digital geographies and the mapping of place in Hemingway’s work
  • Feelings of belonging and exclusion associated with place and setting
  • The role of crowds and isolation in Hemingway’s representations of place and setting
  • Comparing manuscripts and using archival material in discussions of Hemingway’s descriptions of setting
  • The rhetoric of and moral treatment of places in Hemingway’s work

Please direct your 250-350 word proposal and a short bio to Kayla Forrest (kmforres@uncg.edu). The deadline for proposals is January 23. Papers are generally limited to 15 minutes.

Additional details about the 2022 ALA Conference may be found online at:  https://americanliteratureassociation.org/ala-conferences/ala-annual-conference/

For more information about the Ernest Hemingway Society, please visit the Society’s website at: www.hemingwaysociety.org.