CFP: READING W.D. HOWELLS (1837-1920) A CENTURY LATER (NEMLA; deadline 9.30.19)



NEMLA, Boston, MA, March 5-8, 2020

In the 100th anniversary year of William Dean Howells’ death, NEMLA will hold its annual convention in the city that hosted the Ohioan’s rise to literary success and cultural celebrity. From very early in his career, Howells’ literary achievement has been inextricably intertwined, for better and for worse, with his public reputation and cultural influence. Accordingly, this panel welcomes submissions on any aspect of Howells’ life, career, influence, and writing, including but not limited to his novels, short stories, plays, poems, travel writing, and literary and cultural criticism. Papers that situate their particular topics within the history and possible futures of the reading and study of Howells are especially welcome. The panel is offered in cooperation with the W.D. Howells Society.

Submit paper abstracts of no longer than 500 words by September 30 via the NEMLA website, here: The abstract submission interface opens on June 15. If you do not have a NEMLA account, open one for free here:

If you intend to use media for your presentation, be sure to include that information in your user account when you submit your abstract. See the information under “Audiovisual Requests and Wireless Internet” for more information about available AV media, here:

Authors of accepted proposals will be notified in early October; finalization of panel, with confirmed participants, will be completed by October 15. Presenters’ NEMLA membership/registration must be completed by December 7 for their names and paper titles to be included in the conference program.




1 thought on “CFP: READING W.D. HOWELLS (1837-1920) A CENTURY LATER (NEMLA; deadline 9.30.19)


    To NEMLA:

    I graduated from CUNY / Hunter College in NYC in 2004 with an MA Degree focused on the work of William Dean Howells, particularly with his support in the 1880s for women’s advancement. I have never worked within the academy, and therefore cannot submit a scholarly paper for this or any other Conference. However, I would like very much to attend NEMLA’s 100th Year Conference honoring Mr. Howells if it might be open to attendance by non-academy persons.

    Mr. Howells gained my deep respect as I read his novels, his writing in The Atlantic Monthly, and especially as I followed the evolvement of his views related to social justice, and the aspirations of the lower-class toward higher social acceptance. I became most particularly interested in what I considered to be his bravery, in public statements, as he tried to reconcile his own inner conflict between sympathy for women generally and his recognition that he not only benefited personally from maintaining the status quo that kept them dominated and confined within the home, but could never attain certainty that this “women’s sphere” was not her ordained place within the overall scheme of nature.

    I remain very honored to have been put in touch with his work by the Professors who inspired me, and also to have had the privilege of meeting and receiving the ongoing support of Professor Elsa Nettels, whose work on Mr. Howells I had found and admired, and who responded so generously to the one letter I wrote her to tell her of my admiration for one book. Professor Nettels introduced me to NEMLA for which I am also most grateful. We attended the last Boston NEMLA Conference honoring Mr. Howells together. I felt very scholarly and remain deeply grateful for having had this very special engagement.

    I have continued to feel what I believe to be a true, lasting connection with this kind and generous man of his times.

    Following graduation I became a member of the W.D. Howells Society, although I am sorry to say I have let my membership lapse in recent years. I should like to renew it, and to attend this 100th anniversary NEMLA celebration if possible.

    Would you be so kind as to advise me if the Convention is open to attendance by students or former students of Mr. Howells’ work?

    Thank you.


    Maureen D. McGowan

    W.D.Howells Society Member (lapsed dues)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s