Fall 2017 issue of The Howellsian now available

The Fall 2017 issue of The Howellsian is now available: https://howellssociety.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/howellsian-fall-2017-vol-20-no-1.pdf



CFP: Howells Panels at ALA 2018

The William Dean Howells Society welcomes submissions for two panels at the 29th Annual American Literature Association Conference to be held in San Francisco, May 24-27, 2018.

Panel 1: William Dean Howells and Democracy 

Historically, the subject of Howells’s politics has been a matter of dispute. For some—most notably H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis—Howells evinced a contemptibly timid conservatism that was an impediment to political progress. Whereas for others, like Timothy Parrish, Howells stands as the Gilded Age’s “most politically radical writer.” What is incontestable, however, is that politics remained a constant concern for Howells, from his early days as a legislative correspondent, to his time as consul, and finally as the nation’s preeminent critic and novelist. In his polemical criticism, for example, he framed Realist aesthetics as a means to actualizing America’s democratic ideals. In his column of July, 1887 he writes, “Democracy in literature is the reverse of [aristocratic aesthetics]. It wishes to know and to tell the truth…it does not care to paint the marvellous and impossible for the vulgar many, or to sentimentalize and falsify the actual for the vulgar few. Men are more like than unlike one another: let us make them know one another better, that they may be all humbled and strengthened with a sense of their fraternity.” Late in his career, political matters took center stage for Howells. Alone among his peers, he famously risked his reputation and position by defending those accused in the Haymarket Affair. However, though he’d become an avowed socialist and outspoken opponent of economic inequality who sided with workers in labor disputes, Howells was critical of strikes and direct action. In The World of Chance (1893) he writes, “the right way to universal prosperity and peace is the political way…we must have the true America in the true American way, by reasons, by votes, by laws, and not otherwise.” Throughout his career, Howells’s political sensibilities evolved, but his preoccupation with democracy was unwavering. For this panel, we invite proposals for presentations that examine the subject of democracy in Howells’s work.

Potential topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Howells on the American presidency
  • Howells on protectionism vs. cosmopolitanism and globalization
  • Howells on the American nation, nationhood, citizenship
  • Howells on American exceptionalism
  • Howells’s critique of the Spanish-American War
  • Howells on foreign and / or domestic policy
  • Howells on social organization, utopianism, class struggle, direct action, etc.
  • Howells’s politicized aesthetics
  • Howells on American pluralism and diversity
  • Howells’s relation to political figures like Henry Adams, Henry George, John Hay, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., among others

Panel 2: Open Topic

For this session, we invite proposals for presentations concerned with any aspect of Howells’s life and work.

Please submit 300-500 word abstracts to Andrew Ball (ajball79@icloud.com) by January 8. The subject of the email should be “Howells ALA 2018” and the proposal should include any A/V needs you will require.



Howells in the News: Richard White on Howells at the OUP Blog

Abraham Lincoln, the politician whose memory and legacy dominated the Gilded Age, died as this book begins, but he never really vanished. The novelist and critic William Dean Howells captured part of the reason when he reviewed John Hay’s and John Nicolay’s monumental biography of the president in 1890. Howells wrote that “if America means anything at all, it means the sufficiency of the common, the insufficiency of the uncommon.” Lincoln had come to be both the personification of the American common people and the nation’s greatest—and most uncommon—president. Howells thought it was the nation’s common people and common traits that most mattered.

Howells, famous then and largely forgotten since, knew most everyone, but he always remained detached. He watched, and he wrote. His interventions in politics remained minor. Howells was a Midwesterner, and this was the great age of the Midwest. Originally a committed liberal, he came to acknowledge liberalism’s failures and insufficiencies, and then struggled to imagine alternatives. He did so as a writer, and he and his fellow Realists created invaluable portraits of the age. In his confusion, his intelligence, and his honesty, he reminds us that for those living through the Gilded Age it was an astonishing and frightening period, full of great hopes as well as deep fears. When Howells cryptically embraces the common, it is worth listening to him. Understanding his judgment of the “sufficiency of the common, the insufficiency of the uncommon” provides a lens for assessing the Gilded Age.

“W. D. Howells” by Underwood & Underwood, featured in The North American review. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Public lecture by Daniel Mrozowski June 15 at the Mark Twain House: “My Dear Howells:” The Literary Friendship of Samuel Clemens and William Dean Howells

From Paul Petrie:

The Trouble Begins at 5:30

This Thursday, June 15

5:00 Reception, 5:30 Lecture

“My Dear Howells:” The Literary Friendship of Samuel Clemens and William Dean Howells

Lecture by Daniel Mrozowski

The personal and professional relationship between Mark Twain and William Dean Howells was one of the most important in American letters. Howells was a significant literary gatekeeper as editor of the Atlantic Monthly and a major novelist in his own right. Understanding their relationship illuminates the culture, business, and ideas that animated post-Civil War American literature.

Daniel Mrozowski is a visiting lecturer in English at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. Mrozowski is the president of the William Dean Howells Society of America, a scholarly organization dedicated to the study of the 19th-century editor, author, and critic that sponsors regular panels at the annual American Literature Association convention.  Dr. Mrozowski’s research and writing focuses on 19th-century American literature and its intersection with business history. He is working on a book about the rise of the corporation and its influence on American fiction during the Gilded Age.

The Trouble Begins at 5:30 Lecture Series is sponsored by Connecticut Humanities.

This event is presented at no cost but reservations are highly suggested.

Call 860-247-0998 or to reserve tickets click here.

Other Fun Stuff Coming Soon:



Saturday, June 17, 5 to 6:30 p.m.

International Wine Tasting Sponsored by Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum 


Taste wines from Italy, Spain, Australia, Argentina, and America accompanied by a selection of savory appetizers & decadent desserts.

Music provided by Rob McCrann.

All proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum.


Pond House Café            *          Whole Foods         *       Taylor Rental

Wines from Frederick Wildman & Sons, LTD: Wine Enthusiast Importer of the Year Award 2016:          

El Coto Blanco, Rioja, Spain

El Coto Crianza, Rioja, Spain                                                                              

Melini Chianti Riserva DOC, Tuscany, Italy

Hewitson Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide, Australia    

Cavicchioli 1928 Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

La Linda Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Wines from Allan S. Goodman, Inc.:                      

Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay, WA

Motto Zinfandel, California

Questions: friendsmth@yahoo.com or 617-905-1912

Tickets are $35;  advance purchase by JUNE 15 required. No tickets will be sold at the door.

To purchase tickets click here. Deadline: June 15, 2017!



Saturday, June 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Day-Long Writing Workshop: Using Our Voice for Others with Susanne Davis


Howells Society Panels at ALA 2017 (Boston)

Thursday, May 25

Session 1-J 9:00-10:20

On the Neglected Works of William Dean Howells (Helilcon, 7th Floor)

Organized by the William Dean Howells Society

Chair: Andrew Ball, Lindenwood University

1. “Howells’s Critical Poetic Engagement with Race and Lynching,” Patricia Chaudron, University at Buffalo

2. “‘The slow martyrdom of her sickness malady’: William Dean Howells’ ‘Sketch of Winnie’s Life’,” Lindsey Grubbs, Emory University

3. “Howells’s The Whole Family: A Collaborative Failure?,” Gregory J. Stratman, American Public University

Session 2-F, 10:30-11:50

Howells on Race and Class in the Gilded Age (Essex North Center, 3rd Floor)

Organized by the William Dean Howells Society

Chair: Andrew Ball, Lindenwood University

1. “A Farce and Failure of a Novel: Farcical Realism in William Dean Howells’s An Imperative Duty,” Lisa McGunigal, The Pennsylvania State University

2. “An Imperative Duty and the Idea of Race in the Late 19th Century,” Naoko Sugiyama, Japan Women’s University

3. “Marble Halls and Tenement Houses: Proxemics between the Middle Class and Working Class During the Gilded Age,” Kirsten Clemens, Appalachian State University

4. “An Innocent Abroad: Mr. Homos, the Altrurian Traveler,” M.M. Dawley, Boston University

Session 3-L 12:00 – 1:20 pm

Business Meeting: William Dean Howells Society (Essex Center, 3rd Floor)