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Middle West Review | An interdisciplinary digital journal about the American Midwest

March 9, 2014

A new digital journal on the Midwest is scheduled to launch in mid-April:

Middle West Review | An interdisciplinary digital journal about the American Midwest.

I heard about it yesterday at the Missouri Valley History Conference. Among things already posted, editor Paul Mokrzycki offers the following under the heading What is the Midwest?

Ideas about region, space, and place sit at the heart of American history. Differing understandings of political economy often fall along sectional lines, and popular culture reflects and shapes notions of regional distinctiveness. Most broadly, the United States can ostensibly be divided between North and South, with the North functioning in the popular imagination as a space of urbanity, rationality, and progressiveness, and the South operating as a backwater, a reservoir of outmoded customs and attitudes. Yet scholars of the U.S. South — many of whom hail from the Northeast and Midwest — have long cut against such an overly simplistic dichotomy. They observe, to quote the great historian W. J. Cash, that there are “many Souths,” as might be expected in a vast physical area stretching across a dozen or so states. While Durham, North Carolina, differs monumentally from Addison, Alabama, or Atlanta, all three towns belong within “the South,” broadly conceived, and it would be safe to assume that they each contribute in unique ways to an amalgamated “southern culture” characterized by music, food, religion, sport, language, and other traditions.

Can the same be said for cities in “the North”? Or, is “northern culture” only perceivable within smaller regional contexts such as New England and the Midwest? While the field of New England studies enjoys some attention in institutions such as the University of Southern Maine, Boston University, and the University of Rhode Island, midwestern schools devote relatively fewer resources to the study of their region. (Both pale in comparison to the emphasis that southern colleges and universities like the University of North Carolina, the University of Alabama, and Ole Miss place on southern studies.) Monmouth College in Illinois launched the Midwest Matters Initiative in 2009, the first such program in the nation. A few other institutions dedicate themselves to midwestern literature and Native history in the region, but by and large midwestern studies remains an untapped well.

This blog seeks to examine why scholars and ordinary midwesterners alike refuse to investigate what the Midwest means and in the process help correct this scholarly and cultural oversight. We thus invite submissions from students, faculty, and other observers who seek to answer these fundamental questions about region, identity, culture, and history.

I, for one, look forward to see what this new initiative will foster.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 9, 2014 3:24 am

    Reblogged this on Buffalo Doug.

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