The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature was founded in 1971 by David D. Anderson, Bernard Duffey, Merton Babcock, Russel B. Nye, William B. Thomas, William McCann, and Robert Hubach. The Society exists to support the study and dissemination of work in Midwestern literature, art, film, and scholarly study:
- An annual symposium takes place each May on the campus of Michigan State University, offering a venue for the work of contemporary creative artists: students, scholars, creative writers, and filmmakers come together to celebrate the tradition and cultural heritage of the Midwest.
- SSML presents the Mark Twain Award to a distinguished Midwestern writer, and the MidAmerica Award for outstanding contribution to the study of Midwestern literature.
- SSML publishes two peer-reviewed journals of critical essays, MidAmerica (contains the annual bibliography of primary and secondary works of Midwestern literature) and Midwestern Miscellany.
- SSML is responsible for the multi-volume Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. Volume I was published by Indiana University Press in 2001; Volume II is forthcoming.
- In collaboration with Ohio University Press, the Society offers a book award for a single-authored scholarly work.