Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars and Writers

The Annual Symposium of the
Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

Our 53nd year

June 1-3, 2023.

Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, East Lansing, MI

Join us in East Lansing as we meet again to celebrate Midwestern literature, scholarship, and writing. Founded in 1971, the vision of the society is to “encourage and assist the study of Midwestern literature in whatever directions the insight, imagination, and curiosity of its members may lead.”

**Every intent is for this to be an in-person conference; however, we will be monitoring continued Covid-19 developments and make adjustments as necessary.**


The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature invites you to participate in its 51st Annual Symposium

Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars and Creative Writers

June 1-3, 2023

Kellogg Hotel and Convention Center, East Lansing, Michigan

The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature is devoted to the study and production of Midwestern literature in whatever directions the insight, imagination, and curiosity of the members may lead. The SSML annual symposium brings together writers, scholars, and filmmakers to present criticism, poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. At the 2023 symposium we will be honoring Sandra Cisneros with the Mark Twain Award and Jon K. Lauck with the MidAmerica Award, both of whom plan to attend this year.

We welcome proposals for individual papers, panels, and roundtables on Midwestern literature, and reading of creative work with a Midwestern emphasis. Please plan on fifteen minutes for creative and scholarly presentations. All proposals must include the following information:

The title of your proposed paper, reading, or panel; your name; university or other affiliation if you have one, or your home town; mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number; and days and times during the conference that it would be impossible for you to present. Please include this information for all panel members.

If you are a new participant: please provide an abstract, or if you are proposing to read creative work, please submit a short sample of recent work.

If you are a graduate or undergraduate student, please let us know if you would like to be considered for a Wydeven travel support scholarship. You must apply by February 1, 2023.

Please submit proposals (and queries) to the program chair, Jeffrey Hotz at The deadline for proposals is February 1, 2023.

All presenters must be members (or must become members) of the Society and must register for the conference. Dues are $50 ($25 for students) and registration is $125. Student registration is $40; non-participants pay $25. Scholarship recipients are exempt from the registration fee but must pay the membership fee. Forms for membership and registration may be found on the SSML web site:

AV options will be limited. We can only provide a projector and screen, and the equipment requires wireless connection and likely preplanning with the Kellogg Hotel staff. Please note below if your panel will require AV. If you need the AV equipment, please let Jeff know right away. THIS IS CRUCIAL INFORMATION FOR SCHEDULING!

The Society offers monetary prizes for the best creative work and literary criticism read at the conference. Scholarly papers presented at the conference may be submitted for inclusion in one of the Society’s peer-reviewed publications, MidAmerica and Midwestern Miscellany. There is also a prize for student work.

A longtime feature of this conference is an informal book display and sales area begun by poets who brought their chapbooks to display, exchange, and sell to one another.

Information on location and lodgings will be provided with membership and registration materials online at

Our Call for Papers can be found here. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2023.

An electronic Symposium registration form can be found here and below.


Registration fees can be paid here.

The Kellogg Center at Michigan State University, 1-3 June 2023


Badge Information

Your name as it should appear on your badge:

Your institution or hometown:

Contact Information (for journals and messages)

Mailing address (USPS requires us to use the 9-digit zip code; please provide)

Telephone and email

Conference Registration Fees (mark as appropriate)

Participants                                  $125 ____

Student Participants                     $40 ____

Non-Participants                          $25 ____

Awards luncheon tickets @ $35 each ____ number of tickets (yours and guests)

Names of your awards luncheon guests (for their badges) 

SSML Membership Dues ____ new member ____ renewal [must be a member to present at

the Symposium]

—-- check here if you are applying for a student scholarship that waives dues

___ Life Membership $1,000

___ 2023 Patron Membership: $100

___ 2023 Regular Membership: $50

___ 2023 Student Membership: $25

Please add up your totals and mail this form with a check made payable to “SSML” to our new

address: SSML, P.O. Box 4813, East Lansing MI 48826-4813


Prefer to pay by PayPal or credit card? When you log into PayPal you will be

presented with a list of options. If you have a balance in your PayPal account, you can

pay directly from that account. If you prefer to use Venmo or one of the four major credit

cards or your own bank, select the option corresponding to your choice and fill in the requested information. The SSML PayPal account into which you should make

your payment is Even if you're paying through PayPal, please don’t forget to send a copy of this form to our P.O. box or by e-mail to rogerbres@gmail,com

Participants are welcome to bring their publications to an informal book display and sales area begun by poets who brought their chapbooks to display, exchange, and sell to one another.

The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, Inc. is a federally recognized 501(C) (3)

non-profit public charity. Financial contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Our Employer Identification Number (EIN/TIN) is 38-278-1086.

Click here to download the form

Click here to download SSML 2023 Program

Read More

Previously . . .

Programs from previous years’ conferences are available here.

Jon K. Lauck, editor-in-chief of the Middle West Review and founding president of the Midwestern History Association, is the 2023 winner of SSML’s MidAmerica Award for distinguished contributions to the study of Midwestern literature. A native of Madison, South Dakota, Jon holds a JD from the University of Minnesota Law School and a PhD in history from the University of Iowa.

Jon has been an active participant at SSML conferences. In 2014 he chaired a roundtable on the revolt from the village, presenting “The Midwestern Village and Its Writers,” and also spoke on “Reviving Midwestern History” at the Presidential Panel on the future of Midwestern literature, as well as on “Assessing the Midwest in Film” at a panel on the films of Alexander Payne. In 2015 he chaired a roundtable on Russell Kirk as Midwestern writer and spoke on “Richard Wright as Midwestern Writer” at a panel on Richard Wright and Toni Morrison.

Jon is the single author of eight books, most recently The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History (2013) and From Warm Center to Ragged Edge: The Erosion of Midwestern Literary and Historical Regionalism, 1920--1965 (2017). The Lost Region argues for renewed attention to and work in Midwestern history in particular and the region in general. From Warm Center to Ragged Edge contains a chapter on the revolt from the village and another on lesser-known Midwestern writers and their contributions to Midwestern literature. Jon’s latest book, The Good Country: A History of the American Midwest, 1800-1900, will be published in November of 2022 by the University of Oklahoma Press.

With Patricia Oman, Jon is editor of Rediscovering the American Midwest, a series published by Hastings College Press. Jon has also edited or co-edited a number of collections that have broken new ground in Midwestern studies: The Midwestern Moment: the Forgotten World of Early Twentieth Century Midwestern Regionalism, 1880-1940 (2017), Finding a New Midwestern History (2018), The Interior Borderlands: Regional Identity in the Midwest and Great Plains (2019), The Making of the Midwest: Essays on the Formation of Midwestern Identity, 1787-1900 (2020), and The Sower and the Seer: Perspectives on the Intellectual History of the Midwest (2021). He is also the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the American Midwest.

The 2023 MidAmerica Award will be presented to Jon K. Lauck on June 2, 2023, at the awards luncheon of the 51st annual Symposium of Poets and Scholars that will be held from June 1 through June 3, 2023, at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center. This award has been given annually since 1977; past winners include Arnold Rampersad, James R. Shortridge, Donald Pizer, Russel B. Nye, and John T. Flanagan, our first MidAmerica Award winner.

Sandra Cisneros Is SSML’s 2023 Mark Twain Award Winner
Poet, essayist, and fiction writer Sandra Cisneros has won The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature’s 2023 Mark Twain Award for distinguished contributions to Midwestern literature.

A native of Chicago, Sandra Cisneros holds a BA in English from Loyola University (Chicago) and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She has published thirteen books, several of which draw on her Chicago background. “With its Chicago setting, The House on Mango Street (1984) is both Cisneros' most Midwestern and her most acclaimed work,” writes Margaret Rozga in The Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. Rozga goes on to say that “in her poetry chapbook, Bad Boys (1980), Cisneros presents images drawn from her experience in the Mexican inner city of Chicago. Images of Chicago also emerge in a few of the poems in My Wicked, Wicked Ways and in stories such as “Barbie Q” from Woman Hollering Creek (1991).” Perhaps Chicago is most memorably evoked in Cisneros’ masterwork, Caramelo (2002). Her most recent book is Martita, I Remember You (2021).

Cisneros has won many awards for her writing, among them the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature and a 1995 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Sandra Cisneros' Mark Twain Award will be presented at noon on June 2, 2023, at the awards luncheon of The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature’s 51st annual Symposium of Scholars and Writers that will be held from June 1 through June 3 at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center. SSML has given the Mark Twain Award annually since 1980. Past winners include Gerald Vizenor, Tim O’Brien, Ted Kooser, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Jack Conroy, our first Mark Twain Award winner.


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.

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