National Steinbeck Center Academic Conference: John Steinbeck and East of Eden

deadline for submissions: 
April 25, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
National Steinbeck Center
contact email: 

Deadline for Submissions: Monday, April 25, 2022.

Overview: In honor of the 70th Publishing Anniversary of East of Eden, The National Steinbeck Center is excited to launch the first annual academic conference dedicated to research on the Nobel Laureate.

John Steinbeck made an indelible impact on literature in the 20th century through his novels and short stories. After he won the Pulitzer Prize Fiction Award in 1940 for his controversial novel The Grapes of Wrath, his literary skills continued to captivate the global audience. In 1948, he returned to his hometown of Salinas to begin intensive research for East of Eden, which he believed to be his Magnum Opus. In 1952, after “11 years of mental gestation (and) one year of uninterrupted writing”, he published the novel, dedicating it to Thom and John, his young sons. That same year, he was the sixth American to have ever won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The judges praised him for his “at one and the same time realistic and imaginative writings, distinguished as they are by the sympathetic humor and a social perception”

As we approach the 70th anniversary of one of his seminal texts, we invite scholars to share research on Steinbeck and join an intellectual conversation we hope to continue every year. We invite submissions which could be considered for one of the following panels, as well as short lectures in between panels.

Our panel discussions will be on the following topics:

The legacy of East of Eden
How has the novel maintained its impact? What does it comment on that is still applicable today?

Steinbeck and Agriculture
How was his writing shaped and influenced by the local industry? What does Steinbeck say about agriculture? What are some ways to read this relationship?

Steinbeck in the 21st Century
How do we read him now? How is his writing received? What are some modern critical interpretations?

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Modern, critical readings of Steinbeck as an author
  • Steinbeck’s influence on American thought
  • Steinbeck’s relevance in the 21st Century
  • The significance of agriculture in Steinbeck
  • East of Eden in the 21st Century

We encourage submissions on any of these topics or something that is not on this list. We will select panelists and short lecture presentations from our full pool of submissions, but if you have a preference between the two, please indicate it in your submission. Short lectures are generally limited to 15 minutes, however shorter 10–minute presentations and longer 20–minute presentations will be considered dependent upon interest.

On modality: while the panel sessions and lectures will be held in-person at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA, the opening remarks and three short lectures will be available for attendees online.

Please direct your 250–word proposal and a short professional bio to Pooja Bachani Di Giovanna. Proposals should include your name, affiliation (if applicable), contact information (including phone number and email), an abstract of 250 words about a proposed topic, an image (if proposal is to be considered for the virtual panel), and a 100-word bio. Please specify any A/V needs. Please also specify whether you are able to travel to Salinas or whether you are submitting for the virtual short lecture only.

Deadline: Please email proposals to conference@steinbeck.org by Monday, April 25, 2022. Stipends of $200 will be offered to panelists and speakers who attend in person; panelists on the virtual session will be offered stipends of $75. The conference organizers and the National Steinbeck Center are committed to reflecting a wide range of experience of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and physical ability. Scholars of the global majority are especially encouraged to submit proposals.