CFP: Small Towns in Literature, Culture, and Film

Call for Papers: Small Towns in Literature, Culture, and Film
NeMLA’s 53rd Convention in Baltimore, Maryland
10-13 March 2022

Abstract Deadline: September 30, 2021

In “Prelude,” the first poem in David Lee’s 1996 collection My Town, the narrator says of the small town in which he lives, “…this is everywhere I’ve ever been” (3). The line suggests a universal or microcosmic nature of the small town as a place in which one might encounter any imaginable personality, archetype, problem, joy, secret, or scandal.

This is perhaps why the small town serves as the setting for many memorable works of literature: short stories (“A Rose for Emily”), novels (Winesburg, Ohio), verse (Spoon River Anthology), plays (Our Town), and film (It’s a Wonderful Life). In each of these examples, the small town is integral to the work’s characters, conflicts, and overarching questions and ideas. This panel will explore tropes, characteristics, questions, and influences of the small town in literature.

Papers may reflect on the following concepts:

Memory and nostalgia; the relationship between past, present, and future; traditional and nontraditional notions of community; strangers, visitors, and new members; town characters and disruptors of the norm; the relationship of the work’s narrator to the town; town centers and gathering places, town identities and rivalries; celebrations and ceremonies; the desire to escape and experience urban life; secrets and scandals; and so forth.

Papers examining literature, film, cultural studies, or other media are invited.

Abstracts are accepted from June 15 through September 30, 2021. Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by September 30 to NeMLA’d online portal:  

The session number is #19194.

For information on NeMLA’s guidelines for abstracts:

Questions can be emailed to

Contact Info: Lori Newcomb

Wayne State College, Wayne, NEContact




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