SSML sponsors sessions at the annual Midwest Modern Language Association and Modern Language Association conferences. Participation on SSML-sponsored panels is open to current SSML members with fully paid dues. To become a member, click here.

M/MLA 2023

Cincinnati, Ohio - November 3, 2023

Session Title: Going Public: How Midwestern Writers Foster Democracy 


Presiding: Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio University

  1. "Roughneck Style: Fashioning Radical, Interracial Regionalism in The Anvil," Marc Blanc, Washington University St. Louis
  2. "Going OUT in the Midwest: Brandon Taylor's Real Life," Heather Levy, Western Connecticut State University
  3. "Joy, Abridged: Ross Gay's The Book of Delights and the Paradoxical Indulgence of Flash Nonfiction," Hannah Kroonblawd, Malone University
  4. "What Susan Glaspell Gave Democracy in 1921: Grooming in “Love of the Hills,” “Trifles,” and The Verge," Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio University

M/MLA 2022

Minneapolis, Minnesota - November 17-21, 2022

Theme of Conference: Post-Now

Session Title (Virtual): "Post-Now": Locating the Humanities and/or the American Dream in Midwestern Literature 


  1. “Clara Ann Thompson, Priscilla Jane Thompson, and Aaron Belford Thompson: Republishing Post-Reconstruction Black Poets in the ‘Post-Now,’” Patricia Oman, Hastings College
  2. “Life on the Farm: Memoirs of the Family Farm and the American Dream,” Michele Willman, University of Minnesota Crookston
  3. “What’s the Matter with Iowa? Race and Religion in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead Novels,” John Rohrkemper, Elizabethtown College
  4. “Bette Howland, Blue in Chicago, Public Spaces, and the American Dream,”  Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio University

M/MLA 2021

Milwaukee - November 4-7, 2021

Conference Theme: Cultures of Collectivity

Session Title: Ambivalence, Persistence, and the Role of Community in Midwestern Literature 


  1. Rewriting the Chicago Renaissance: Collectively Creating the Midwest—from Hamlin Garland to Gwendolyn Brooks, 1900-1945, Aaron Cliff Babcock, Ohio U
  2. Community and the Unkillability of Eugene Henderson in Saul Bellow’s 1959 novel, Henderson the Rain King, Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio U
  3. Toni Morrison, the Haunting Legacies of the American South, and the Creation of a Midwest Community. Alejandra Marie Ortega, Purdue U

MLA 2024

Philadelphia, January 4-7, 2024

Presidential Theme: Joy and Sorrow

Title of Session:  The Role of Joy in Midwestern Literature

Presiding: Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio U, Athens


  1. "Small Bursts of Joy: Dawn Powell’s Imaginative Return Home in My Home Is Far Away," Jericho Williams, Spartanburg Methodist College
  2. "Social Change and Personal Happiness in Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window," Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio University
  3. "The Joy-Sorrow Continuum in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five," Jayne Waterman, Ashland University
  4. "Majestic Canopy and Gnarled Roots: Joy and Sorrow in Richard Powers’s Overstory," John Rohrkemper, Elizabethtown College

MLA 2022

Washington, DC - January 6-9, 2022

Presidential Theme: Multilingual US

Title of Session:  Writing With An Accent in Midwestern Literature

Presiding: Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio U, Athens


  1. “The City in Which I Love You: Asian American Poets and the Urban Midwest,” Timothy Yu, University of Wisconsin
  2. “Crumbling Houses and Electric Dreams: Postwar Posthumanism in Raymond DeCapite's A Lost King,” Aaron Babcock,Ohio U, Athens
  3. “Safety Pins and Hidden Tears: Textual Healing in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine,” Ross Tangedal, U of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
  4. “Writing English with an Accent: Bette Howland's Blue in Chicago and the Defamiliarized Image,” Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio U, Athens

The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature exists to support the study and dissemination of work in Midwestern literature, art, film, and scholarly study.

Main Pages




SSML Resources






Midwestern Miscellany

SSML Newsletters