Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars and Writers
Unfortunately, our 2020 and 2021 symposium plans were cancelled due to Covid-19.
We will reconvene at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center from June 2-4, 2022. A CFP and other conference details will be announced in Fall 2021.
We will return to our plans for a conference at the Newberry Library in 2023. Dates TBA.
The 2022 Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literature will be awarded to Gerald Vizenor. Vizenor is a prolific author and critic and a member of the White Earth Nation of the Anishanaabeg in Minnesota. The author of more than thirty books, his writing explores a multitude of genres and forms, much of it emerging from and exploring Midwestern landscapes and experiences. Vizenor’s great strength in contributing to our understanding of the region is his ability to recontextualize and complicate oversimplified and whitewashed versions of the Midwest. Scholar Bradley John Monsma notes, for example, that “The spatiality of his narratives suggests inventive yet historical understandings of the diversity of Native American relations to place.” Vizenor does this throughout his corpus of work, and we honor his contributions to the literature and culture of the Midwest through the awarding of the 2022 Mark Twain Award.
The 2022 MidAmerica Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literary Study will be awarded to Dr. Arnold Rampersad, Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Stanford University. Rampersad’s long and distinguished career as a biographer, editor, and critic has deeply informed our understanding of African American literature, particularly the life and work of two prominent Midwestern literary figures: Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. His two-volume collection The Life of Langston Hughes (1986, 1988) is widely accepted as a core biography of the poet, and the second volume was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Our understanding of African American life and literature, particularly in the Midwest, is richer for Rampersad’s scholarship, and as such, we find him well-deserving of the 2022 MidAmerica Award.