Panel: A William Dean Howells Retrospective

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML)
contact email: 

Panel: A William Dean Howells Retrospective


Conference: WRITING THE MIDWEST: A Symposium of Scholars and Creative Writers

The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML)

May 28-30, 2024. Kellogg Hotel and Convention Center, East Lansing, Michigan


During his lifetime, William Dean Howells (1837-1920), the so-called “Dean of American Letters,” stood as the preeminent literary figure in the United States, surpassing even Mark Twain or Henry James. In the century since Howells’s death, Twain and James have eclipsed him. Today, Howells’s place in the literary canon rests on a handful of novels like A Modern Instance (1882), The Rise of Silas Lapham (1884), and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1889), and a few short stories like the much-anthologized “Christmas Every Day” and “Editha.” Nevertheless, Howells is a fascinating author who rewards study. A prolific novelist and fiction writer, a successful playwright of popular farces, an eminent literary critic, an editor of vast influence, and an accomplished travel writer, Howells covered an impressive range of topics pertinent to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life. Howells wrote about nearly every topic of pressing social and political interest from the mid-1860s until he died in 1920. A substantial body of scholarship already exists on Howells. More remains possible.


This panel is part of the Society of the Study of Midwestern Literature’s (SSML) annual conference, Writing the Midwest, to be held at the Kellogg Hotel and Convention Center in East Lansing, East Lansing, Michigan, from Tuesday, May 28, through Thursday, May 30, 2024. We seek papers on any topic related to Howells’s career and literary output, whether on well-known or lesser-known works.


Please use this link to propose a paper: 2024 SSML Individual Proposal form. Please indicate that your paper is for the panel on William Dean Howells.


If you have questions about this panel or the SSML conference, please email Jeffrey Hotz at


DEADLINE: Midnight January 15, 2024 (US Eastern time zone).



About SSML and The Writing the Midwest Symposium: The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML), founded in 1971, supports the study and dissemination of work in Midwestern literature, art, film, and scholarly study.  


An annual symposium takes place each May on the campus of Michigan State University, offering a venue for the work of scholars, creative writers, and contemporary artists to celebrate the literary history, traditions, and cultural heritage of the Midwest. SSML encourages the study of Midwestern literature and culture in whatever directions the insight, imagination, and curiosity of its members may lead. Additional details about SSML and the annual conference can be found at the society’s website:


DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY: AV options will be limited. We can only provide a projector and screen. Please note below if your panel will require AV.


STUDENTS: If you are a student, please send them to the Symposium page on the website to apply for a Wydeven travel support scholarship. Students must apply for the travel scholarship by January 15, 2024.