May 1 – “Finding the Lost Region: A Conference on Rediscovering the Midwest, America’s Most Common Ground.”

GVSU Richard M. DeVos Center, Downtown Grand Rapids

401 Fulton St. West Grand Rapids, MI 49504

From left to right: Mary Eilleen Lyon, Gleaves Whitney, Ralph Hauenstein, Hank Meijer, Annette Kirk, and Karen Loth attended our conference, Finding the Lost Region.

The Event

What can the culture and history of the Midwest tell us about the development of democracy, the expansion of industry, and the flourishing of pluralism in America?

In comparison to such regions as the South, the far West, and New England, the Midwest and its culture—the history of its peoples and places; its literature, music, and art; the complexity and richness of its landscapes—has sadly been neglected. And this neglect is both scholarly and popular: historians as well as literary and art critics tend not to examine the Midwest seriously in their academic work, while the myth of the Midwest has not, in the popular imagination, ascended to the level of the proud, literary South; the cultured, democratic Northeast; or the hip, innovative West Coast.

Nevertheless, the Midwest has a history and culture well worth exploring, analyzing, and bragging about. The purpose of our conference, titled “Finding the Lost Region: A Conference on Rediscovering the Midwest,” was to excite interest in the Midwest as a region with its own rich, nuanced, and varied history and culture. Our conference featured keynote addresses and panel discussions on the history, literature, and art of the Midwest, Midwestern leadership and statesmanship, and the budding field of Midwestern Studies. We invited numerous scholars—historians, literary critics, geographers—to present on their work on Midwestern life and culture. With this summit we started a conversation on the Midwest that engages the scholarly and popular imagination; most importantly, we started a lasting conversation.

Schedule of Events

Friday May 1:

Planning Meeting of Midwestern Historians: 7:00 am

The Midwest’s Voices: 8:30-10:00 am
Midwestern Regionalists: Then and Now: Zachary Michael Jack, North Central College
Midwestern Intellectuals: James Seaton, Michigan State University
Midwestern Musicians: James Leary, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Midwestern Writers: The Third Wave: David Pichaske, Southwest Minnesota State University
Chair: Michael C. Steiner, California State University-Fullerton

The Midwestern Experience: 10:15 am – 11:45 pm
Civic Life in a Midwestern Community: Paula Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Growing Up Midwestern: Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Iowa State University
The Role of Sports in the Midwest: David McMahon, Kirkwood College
Midwestern Identity since World War II: Joe Anderson, Mount Royal University
Chair: John E. Miller, South Dakota State University

Lunch: 11:45-12:45 pm
Keynote: 12:45-1:45 pm – Joe Amato, Southwest Minnesota State University

Press Panel Discussion: 2:00-3:45 pm
Monica Davey, New York Times
Ben Kesling, Wall Street Journal
Jennifer Day, Chicago Tribune
Chair: TBD

Panel Discussion on Reviving Interest in the Midwest as a Region: 4:00-5:45 pm
Reflections on the Limited Appeal of Midwestern History: Andrew Cayton, Miami University
Steps Toward Reviving Midwestern History: Jon Lauck, University of South Dakota
Publishing Books about Midwestern History: Catherine Cocks, University of Iowa Press
The Future of the History of the Midwest: Joe Anderson, Mount Royal University
Chair: TBD

Click here for Day 1 of the event!

Gallery

Invitation

April 30-May 1 “Finding the Lost Region: A Conference on Rediscovering the Midwest, America’s Most Common Ground.”

GVSU Richard M. DeVos Center, Downtown Grand Rapids

401 Fulton St. West Grand Rapids, MI 49504

What can the culture and history of the Midwest tell us about the development of democracy, the expansion of industry, and the flourishing of pluralism in America?

In comparison to such regions as the South, the far West, and New England, the Midwest and its culture—the history of its peoples and places; its literature, music, and art; the complexity and richness of its landscapes—has sadly been neglected. And this neglect is both scholarly and popular: historians as well as literary and art critics tend not to examine the Midwest seriously in their academic work, while the myth of the Midwest has not, in the popular imagination, ascended to the level of the proud, literary South; the cultured, democratic Northeast; or the hip, innovative West Coast.

Nevertheless, the Midwest has a history and culture well worth exploring, analyzing, and bragging about. The purpose of our conference, titled “Finding the Lost Region: A Conference on Rediscovering the Midwest,” is to excite interest in the Midwest as a region with its own rich, nuanced, and varied history and culture. Our conference will feature keynote addresses and panel discussions on the history, literature, and art of the Midwest, Midwestern leadership and statesmanship, and the budding field of Midwestern Studies. We are inviting numerous scholars—historians, literary critics, geographers—to present on their work on Midwestern life and culture. With this summit we hope to start a conversation on the Midwest that engages the scholarly and popular imagination; most importantly, we hope to start a conversation that lasts.

Schedule of Events:

Thursday April 30th:

Welcome: Gleaves Whitney, 8:00 am
Introduction: Jon Lauck, 8:15 am

The Midwest as a Region: 9:00-10:15 am
How Nature and Culture Shaped Early Settlement in the Midwest: James E. Davis, Illinois College
First Cousins: The Civil War’s Impact on Midwestern Identity: Nicole Etcheson, Ball State University
Regionalist Thought in the Midwest: Michael C. Steiner, California State University-Fullerton
Chair: Jon Butler, Yale University

The Midwest’s People: 10:30 – 11:45 am
American and European Immigrant Groups in the Midwest by the mid Nineteenth
Century: Gregory S. Rose, The Ohio State University-Marion
The Native American Midwest: Susan Gray, Arizona State University
Politics in the Promised Land: How the Great Migration Shaped the American Midwest:
Jeffrey Helgeson, Texas State University
Chair: Joe Hogan, Hauenstein Center

Lunch: 11:45-12:45
Keynote: 12:45-1:45 – Hank Meijer

The Iconic Midwest: 2:00-3:45 pm
The Small Town: John Miller, South Dakota State University
The Midwest as an Economic Engine before World War I: David Good, University of Minnesota
The Agrarian Midwest: Chris Laingen, Eastern Illinois University
Chair: Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Iowa State University

Midwestern Landscapes: 4:00-5:45 pm
River Culture: Mike Allen, University of Washington-Tacoma
The Midwest’s Spiritual Landscapes: Jon Butler, Yale University
The Development of Midwestern Cities: Jon Teaford, Purdue University
Chair: James E. Davis, Illinois College

Break: 5:45-7:00
Keynote: 7:00 – Speaker: Colin Woodard

To RSVP for Day 1 of the conference, click the icon below:

Eventbrite - Finding the Lost Region Conference, Day 1

Friday May 1:

Planning Meeting of Midwestern Historians: 7:00 am

The Midwest’s Voices: 8:30-10:00 am
Midwestern Regionalists: Then and Now: Zachary Michael Jack, North Central College
Midwestern Intellectuals: James Seaton, Michigan State University
Midwestern Musicians: James Leary, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Midwestern Writers: The Third Wave: David Pichaske, Southwest Minnesota State University
Chair: Michael C. Steiner, California State University-Fullerton

The Midwestern Experience: 10:15 am – 11:45 pm
Civic Life in a Midwestern Community: Paula Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Growing Up Midwestern: Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Iowa State University
The Role of Sports in the Midwest: David McMahon, Kirkwood College
Midwestern Identity since World War II: Joe Anderson, Mount Royal University
Chair: John E. Miller, South Dakota State University

Lunch: 11:45-12:45 pm
Keynote: 12:45-1:45 pm – Joe Amato, Southwest Minnesota State University

Press Panel Discussion: 2:00-3:45 pm
Monica Davey, New York Times
Ben Kesling, Wall Street Journal
Jennifer Day, Chicago Tribune
Chair: TBD

Panel Discussion on Reviving Interest in the Midwest as a Region: 4:00-5:45 pm
Reflections on the Limited Appeal of Midwestern History: Andrew Cayton, Miami University
Steps Toward Reviving Midwestern History: Jon Lauck, University of South Dakota
Publishing Books about Midwestern History: Catherine Cocks, University of Iowa Press
The Future of the History of the Midwest: Joe Anderson, Mount Royal University
Chair: TBD

To RSVP for Day 2 of the conference, click the icon below:

Eventbrite - Finding the Lost Region Conference, Day 2

This conference is co-sponsored by the Earhart Foundation, the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation, and the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.

This conference was co-sponsored by the Earhart Foundation, the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation, and the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.

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