2023 Award Winners

MidAmerca Award


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.

Mark Twain Award

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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