Finding a New Midwestern History


Finding a New Midwestern History

Edited and with an introduction by Jon K. Lauck, Gleaves Whitney, and Joseph Hogan

396 pages
1 illustration, 4 maps, 1 table, 1 graph, index


November 2018


$55.00 Add to Cart

November 2020


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2018


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2018


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In comparison to such regions as the South, the far West, and New England, the Midwest and its culture have been neglected both by scholars and by the popular press. Historians as well as literary and art critics tend not to examine the Midwest in depth in their academic work. And in the popular imagination, the Midwest has never really ascended to the level of the proud, literary South; the cultured, democratic Northeast; or the hip, innovative West Coast. 

Finding a New Midwestern History revives and identifies anew the Midwest as a field of study by promoting a diversity of viewpoints and lending legitimacy to a more in-depth, rigorous scholarly assessment of a large region of the United States that has largely been overlooked by scholars. The essays discuss facets of midwestern life worth examining more deeply, including history, religion, geography, art, race, culture, and politics, and are written by well-known scholars in the field such as Michael Allen, Jon Butler, and Nicole Etcheson.

Author Bio

Jon K. Lauck is an adjunct professor of history and political science at the University of South Dakota and the author of numerous books, including The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History. Gleaves Whitney is director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author or editor of fifteen books including most recently To Heal a Nation: The Story of Gerald R. Ford. Joseph Hogan is the program manager of the Common Ground Initiative at the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University.


"In 2015, a group of historians met in Michigan to reinvigorate the study of midwestern history. The result of the meeting was a series of essays published in this engaging volume. Individual essays cover virtually every imaginable topic of the history of the American Midwest. . . . This book could be assigned in advanced undergraduate courses, and any faculty or academic staff whose teaching even remotely deals with the Midwest should read this book."—J. Shelton, Choice

“Engaging, provocative, and cogently argued. . . . This collection provides an insightful, perceptive, smart regional consciousness. This book will make its mark as an important contribution to the intellectual history of the Midwest as well as to the historiography of the region.”—R. Douglas Hurt, professor of history at Purdue University and author of The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century

"Together the essays offer multiple ways of defining, identifying, understanding, and grappling with the Midwest and its history. They pose crucial questions and suggest some important conversations for the field."—Annette Atkins, Missouri Historical Review

"Finding a New Midwestern History aims to invigorate the field of midwestern history, and its collection of essays succeeds at providing an expansive overview of potential areas of study."—Rachel Boyle, Nebraska History

"Collectively, the book's contributors illuminate the richness and complexity of the field, and they articulate why the Midwest deserves consideration anew in both scholarly research and the popular imagination."—Elizabeth Grennan Browning, Michigan Historical Review

"This new book reflects the laudable strengthening of Midwestern academic studies in recent years and is another important contribution to Midwestern studies by the University of Nebraska Press."—Omaha World-Herald

“The result isn’t comprehensive (even ten such volumes couldn’t claim to be), but the menu is richly varied. . . There is no single ‘Midwest,’ of course, but projects such as this . . . offer a much-needed alternative to disdain and cheerleading alike.”—John Wilson, First Things

"This engaging collection of essays examines midwestern history from a wide variety of perspectives, offering valuable insights into the region."—William C. Barnett, Annals of Iowa

 "This is a valuable contribution to a reenergized field of study. Students of midwestern history will need to be familiar with it, and the region’s academic and public libraries will want to add it to their collections."—Robert G. Barrows, Indiana Magazine of History

"Finding a New American History [is] a valiant effort . . . like the area it treats, it's unexpected, intensely satisfying, and full of riches."—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Introduction: Toward a New Midwestern History    
Jon K. Lauck, Joe Hogan, and Gleaves Whitney

Part 1. The Midwest as a Region
Chapter 1. The Birth of the Midwest and the Rise of Regional Theory    
Michael C. Steiner
Chapter 2. How Nature and Culture Shaped Early Settlement in the Midwest    
James E. Davis
Chapter 3. First Cousins: The Civil War’s Impact on Midwestern Identity    
Nicole Etcheson

Part 2. The Midwest’s People
Chapter 4. Native Americans and Midwestern History    
Susan E. Gray
Chapter 5. American and European Immigrant Groups in the Midwest by the Mid-Nineteenth Century    
Gregory S. Rose
Chapter 6. Civic Life in a Midwestern Community    
Paula M. Nelson
Chapter 7. Politics in the Promised Land: How the Great Migration Shaped the American Midwest    
Jeffrey Helgeson

Part 3. The Iconic Midwest
Chapter 8. Midwestern Small Towns    
John E. Miller
Chapter 9. The Agrarian Midwest: A Geographic Analysis    
Christopher R. Laingen
Chapter 10. The Role of Sports in the Midwest    
David R. McMahon

Part 4. Midwestern Landscapes
Chapter 11. The View from the River: Another Perspective on Midwestern History    
Michael Allen
Chapter 12. The Midwest’s Spiritual Landscapes    
Jon Butler
Chapter 13. The Development of Midwestern Cities    
Jon Teaford

Part 5. The Midwest’s Voices
Chapter 14. Of Murals and Mirrors: Midwest Regionalism Then and Now    
Zachary Michael Jack
Chapter 15. Midwestern Intellectuals    
James Seaton
Chapter 16. Midwestern Musicians    
James P. Leary
Chapter 17. Midwestern Writers: The Fourth Wave    
David Pichaske

Part 6. The Midwestern Experience
Chapter 18. The Upper Midwest as the Second Promised Land    
Gleaves Whitney
Chapter 19. Growing Up Midwestern    
Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
Chapter 20. The Best of Babbitt: The Midwestern Vision of Arthur Vandenberg    
Hank Meijer
Chapter 21. Of Conformity and Cosmopolitanism: Midwestern Identity since World War II    
J. L. Anderson

List of Contributors    

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