Rediscovering the American Midwest

Series Editors: Jon K. Lauck and Patricia Oman

The Making of the Midwest

Essays on the Formation of Midwestern Identity, 1787–1900

Edited by Jon K. Lauck

Everything has a beginning, including the Midwest. During the American colonial period, what would become the Midwest was the “backcountry,” or the area behind the coastal population centers. It was rural and rough, the sort of place that fueled populist resistance to the federal taxation of whiskey. At the time of the Revolution, it was The West, often undifferentiated between north and south and largely associated with Kentucky. In the early years of the republic, however, the regional differentiation deepened and grew until the latter half of the 19th-century, when the Midwest emerged as a fully formed region. The essays in this book help explain this process of region-making.


ISBN 978-1-942885-76-4 | hardback | $50.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

ISBN 978-1-942885-75-7 | paperback | $30.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Pieces of the Heartland

Representing Midwestern Places

Edited by Andy Oler

Although representations of the Midwest in the 20th century often draw on the tropes of emptiness, evacuation, and loss, Pieces of the Heartland argues for a more complex view of the region. Addressing a variety of midwestern subjects—from creative works to national organizations and tourist brochures—the essays in this collection propose exciting new critical methods for studying the still vibrant geographic heart of the U.S.


ISBN 978-1-942885-54-2 | paperback | 250 pages | $25.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

ISBN 978-1-942885-53-5 | hardcover | 250 pages | $40.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

A Scattering Time

How Modernism Met Midwestern Culture

Edited by Sara Kosiba

The American Midwest does not feature prominently in studies of modernism. Modernism is cosmopolitan and avant-garde, the story goes, whereas the Midwest is . . . not. The essays in this ground-breaking collection tell a different story, arguing for a more nuanced understanding of both modernism and the Midwest. The Midwest, it turns out, has a radical streak.


ISBN 978-1-942885-52-0 | paperback | 248 pages | $25.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

ISBN 978-1-942885-51-1 | hardcover | 248 pages | $40.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

The Midwestern Moment

The Forgotten World of Early Twentieth-Century Midwestern Regionalism, 1880-1940

Edited by Jon K. Lauck

The American Midwest wasn’t always “fly-over country.” In the early 20th century it experienced a flowering of regional energy and industry—Midwestern writers, artists, crusaders, and entrepreneurs dominated in American culture. Essays in this volume seek to bring that forgotten Midwestern Moment back into the spotlight and inspire further research into a period of Midwestern history that has been largely forgotten.


ISBN 978-1-942885-50-4 | paperback | 304 pages | $25.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

ISBN 978-1-942885-49-8 | hardcover | 304 pages | $40.00

Buy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Call for Proposals: Midwest Gothic

In the American cultural imagination, the Midwest represents the pastoral “home” or “heart” of the nation, a space closely identified with agriculture and rural values. Defined against the urban and industrial, the region has come to embody national myths, positing a middle landscape full of promise and fertility. Alongside these ideas of the region, pervasive images of small-town provinciality and Main Street speak to the ongoing depiction of the Midwest as nostalgic and anachronistic. While these representations belie the complex realities of history and place, the Midwest Gothic, as a regional subgenre, acts as a response to an increasingly out-of-synch national mythology by digging up the secrets, horrors, and forgotten histories that lie just beneath the topsoil. This subgenre provides a regional lens through which to view the American Gothic’s central themes and concerns, emphasizing the heartland’s distinctive role in national identity.

In literature, the Midwest Gothic has a longstanding and multifaceted tradition, including works such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage, and Bienvenido Santos’s “Scent of Apples.” In film and popular culture, the Midwest Gothic encompasses diverse modes and genres ranging from horror/neo-noir films like Children of the Corn and Fargo, serial documentaries such as Making a Murderer, and television shows like Sharp Objects and Stranger Things. Such works delve into tensions between urban and rural spaces as well as vital socio-political and economic concerns of the region, including deindustrialization and economic disparity, crime, addiction, mental illness, racism, sexism, homophobia, and isolation. Conceiving of the region as a national “wound,” the Midwest Gothic demonstrates the return of the repressed as a force for healing, illuminating the dark underside of a cultural mythology in order to counterintuitively affirm life.

This edited volume is particularly interested in original contributions between 5,000 and 7,000 words on topics including, but not limited to:

  • The rise of the Midwest Gothic, including seminal authors such as Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, and Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Representations of race, socioeconomic class, gender, and queerness

  • Intersections with the American Gothic and other regional Gothics

  • Tensions between the urban and rural

  • Representations of immigration in the Midwestern Gothic

  • Domestic abjection

  • Representations of the Farm Crisis

  • The opioid crisis, addiction, and mental illness

  • The pastoral and post-pastoral

  • Documentary and non-fiction approaches to the Midwestern Gothic

Please submit abstracts of 300-500 words to Dr. Brandi Homan and Julia Madsen at by November 1, 2019. Selections will be made by December 1, 2019. Final essays (of 5,000-7,000 words) are due February 1, 2019.