July 12-14, 2018
Peterborough, New Hampshire


The Third International Thornton Wilder Conference will be held in Peterborough, New Hampshire, July 12-14, 2018. The conference will be co-sponsored by the Thornton Wilder Society and the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. Peterborough, a small town in southern New Hampshire, is the site of the MacDowell Colony, which has provided support for thousands of writers, artists, and composers since its founding in 1907. The Colony was one of Thornton Wilder’s favorite places to work on a novel or play; and because part of Our Town was written there, Peterborough is often cited as the model for Grover’s Corners, one of the most famous fictional towns in American literature. Wilder received the inaugural MacDowell Medal in 1960, an award that has since been bestowed on many of the world’s most notable artists in all media.


While we certainly encourage papers that deal with Our Town, we are interested in proposals on all aspects of Wilder’s work––and on its relation to the work of other writers and to the several eras of his productive life, from the 1920s through the 1970s––as a dramatist, novelist, screenwriter, librettist, essayist, lecturer, adapter, translator, teacher, and scholar. We welcome proposals applying any critical perspective to his work, as well as proposals on teaching Wilder; and because Wilder’s relationship to his family was important to his life and art, we also welcome papers dealing with the work of his siblings and his parents. We invite proposals from graduate students, established scholars, and independent scholars of all nationalities––in American, English, and comparative literature; American studies; history; classics; theatre; religion; music; and other fields. Fellowships will be made available to help defray the expenses of graduate students attending the conference.


In addition to paper presentations, we will be inviting renowned theatre and literary artists to participate. Conference events will include an opening night reception on July 11th, productions of Wilder plays by local theatre companies, a walking tour of Wilder-related and Our Town– related sites in Peterborough, a bus tour that includes a visit to Wilder’s studio at the MacDowell Colony and the cemetery depicted in Our Town, and a closing-night banquet at which the Wilder Prize will be awarded to a distinguished literary figure. Housing at different cost levels will be available; shuttle services will be provided to Peterborough from the nearest train station and airport.


We welcome your suggestions and questions. Please send a 250-500-word proposal (noting any audiovisual requests) along with a brief CV or biographical statement to Jackson R. Bryer at


The deadline for proposals is January 1, 2018; presenters will be notified of acceptance by February 1, 2018.