Middle West Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal about the American Midwest

Middle West Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal about the American Midwest

Edited by Jon K. Lauck
Christopher R. Laingen and Patrick Garry, Associate Editors 

ISSN 2372-5664

eISSN 2372-5672


The Middle West Review is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal focused on studying the American Midwest, a “lost region” which has received far less scholarly attention than other American regions. Middle West Review is the only scholarly print publication dedicated exclusively to the study of the Midwest as a region. It provides a forum for scholars and non-scholars alike to explore the meaning of Midwestern identity, history, geography, society, culture, and politics. Overall, the mission of the Middle West Review is to join with like-minded associations, historical societies, writers, and scholars to help revitalize the study of the American Midwest. The inaugural issue of the journal was published in the fall of 2014 and since 2019 Middle West Review has made the University of South Dakota its home. 

Visit the journal's editorial website.

Table Of Contents

Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 2024


Introduction: Finding the Boundaries of the American Midwest
Jon K. Lauck

A Special Symposium on the Tenth Anniversary of Middle West Review
The Roots of Midwestern Order
Dedra McDonald Birzer

“History Happens Here”: The Midwest and Its State and Regional History
Jeff Bremer

“A profitable investment for every one”: The Present and Future of Black Midwestern Historical Scholarship
David Brodnax, Sr. 

Modernizing the Old Midwest
Jon Butler 

Race-Based Slavery and People of African Descent on the Midwestern Frontier
Christy Clark-Pujara

The State of Midwestern History: The View from Ohio
Donna M. Deblasio 

From Pioneers to Settler Colonists: The Frontier in Midwestern History
Nicole Etcheson 

Indians and Empires in the Early Midwest
John Faragher 

“A Ghost Among Regions”: Considering a Spectral History of the Midwest
Amy Laurel Fluker 

Teaching the Midwest in an Era of Precarity
Anna Thompson Hajdik 

One Hundred Years of Secularization and Pluralization in the Midwest
Daniel G. Hummel 

Midwest History: Will the Past Be Prologue?
Theodore j. karamanski 

Indigenous Agency and Resilience in the Midwest: Reclaiming the Narrative
Doug Kiel 

Not a Revival. A Convention.
Andrew Klumpp 

Upper Midwestern Music, Maps, and Memory: Mainstream Absence, Grassroots Emergence
James P. Leary 

Regionalism in a Global Age
Timothy R. Mahoney 

The Humanities Model is in Trouble—Let’s Rethink It
Patricia Oman 

Recent Scholarship on Midwestern Contributions to Popular Music: Trends and Opportunities
Barton Price 

The Future of Midwestern History: A Gloomy View from the Middle Land
Pamela Riney-Kehrberg

Race, Freedom, and Belonging in a Relational Midwest
Jennifer Kirsten Stinson 

Everybody Took Part: A Regional Vision of Populism’s Participatory Culture Within Lake Nineteenth-Century Midwestern Reform
Ann Vlock 

The Prairie’s Ever-present Heartaches: EcoGothic and the Great Plains
Adam Nemmers 

Filling the Unforgiving Minute with Sixty Seconds’ Worth of Effort: Barbara Fassbinder, Nursing, and AIDS in the US, 1986-91
Karissa A. Haugeberg 

Book Reviews
Cynthia Culver Prescott, Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory
Andrea G. Radke Moss 

Sarah Vogel, The Farmer’s Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm
cory Haala 

Taylor Brorby, Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land
Clare Forstie 

Christopher Evans, Do Everything: The Biography of Frances Willard
William Kostlevy 

Samuel Freedman, Into the Bright Sunlight: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights
Zachary Clary 

Laura Meckler, Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equality
Mark Friedberger 

Steven Cohen, The Lies of the Land: Seeing Rural America for What It Is—and Isn’t
R. Douglas Hurt 

Mark Walczynski, Jolliet and Marquette: A New History of the 1673 Expedition
Patrick J. Jung 

Mark Borthwick, A Brave and Lovely Woman: Mamah Borthwick and Frank Lloyd Wright
Geoffrey Jokke 

Sue Leaf, Impermanence: Life and Loss on Superior’s South Shore
Anthony Bukowski 

Tim O’Brien, America Fantastica
Patrick Hicks 

Media Reviews
Returning to God’s Country (1985): Louis Malle’s Forgotten Encounter with the Midwest
Jodie Childers 

Fishes Out of Water: Aliens in America (CW, 2007-2008) and the Depiction of Islam in the Midwest
Mehdi Achouche

A Midwestern Story Teller of the Inland Seas: A Tribute to Walter Havighurst
Jacqueline Johnson and John Kropf 

Union Victory: The Midwest’s Decisive Role in the Civil War
Jack Dempsey 

The Rise and Fall of The Clevelander: The Voice of Northeast
Ohio’s Optimism
Vince Guerrieri 

Whistling in the Dark: Garrison Keillor’s Emersonian Good Cheer
Meghan O’Gieblyn 

The Midwestern Tradition at Bay: Richard Weaver’s The Southern Tradition at Bay
Miles Smith IV 

An Economics Nobel Rooted in the Middle West
Louis D. Johnston 

An Interview with Patrick Nelson Limerick
Jon. K. Lauck

Submissions & Book Reviews

Statement of Publishing Ethics

The Middle West Review accepts submissions on a rolling basis. We encourage readers to contribute original content that deepens the public’s understanding of the American Midwest in an accessible and thoughtful manner. 

Articles should run between 8,000-10,000 words and articulate a central thesis about the study of the Midwest. These works should build upon original research or new interpretations of existing sources. Book review essays should run roughly 2,000-2,500 words and discuss multiple books. Non-fiction essays should run roughly 3,000 words. See prior issues of Middle West Review for examples.  

All contributions will undergo a process of peer review spearheaded by the Middle West Review editors and executive board.

Submissions will either be accepted for publication outright, returned with a request to “revise and resubmit,” or rejected outright. All submissions will benefit from the comments and revisions of the Middle West Review editors and its editorial reviewers.

Please feel free to submit your materials at any time to MWR@USD.edu. You can also send any questions about submissions and other matters to that address.

Stylistic Guidelines
Detailed guidelines are available here.

Statement of Principles
Middle West Review embraces the principles of open inquiry, free speech, intellectual diversity, and robust debate and discussion and believes they are crucial to the proper functioning of scholarly journals, higher education, and a society where unfettered expression and deliberation are prized ideals. Middle West Review adheres to the longstanding tenet of academic freedom which promotes an open marketplace of ideas among its editors, contributors, and readers. It strives to create a forum that reflects high standards of scholarship and places a premium on facts, logic, and evidence, as well as respecting all viewpoints embracing such standards and that are grounded in the process of critical thinking that has traditionally characterized scholarly endeavors. Middle West Review also welcomes intelligent and well-reasoned creative non-fiction and cultural criticism more generally. Toward these ends, Middle West Review specifically endorses the University of Chicago’s Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression (2015). More broadly, Middle West Review recognizes the importance of creating and sustaining academic and literary outlets in the nation’s far-flung and diverse regions and embraces the goals of regionalists who have sought to resist the dominant centers of cultural production in the nation and to create more platforms in order to foster a diversity of thought and creative enterprises.

Editorial Board


Jon K. Lauck, University of South Dakota

Associate Editors

Jennifer Stinson, Saginaw Valley State University 
Christopher R. Laingen, Eastern Illinois University

Assistant Associate Editor

Hannah Redder, New York University
David Grabitske, South Dakota State Historical Society 

Executive Editors

Richard J. Jensen, Montana State University–Billings

Paula Nelson, University of Wisconsin at Platteville

Gregory L. Schneider, Emporia State University

Graduate Student Assistant
Donald Keifert, University of South Dakota

Editorial Board

William Barillas, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
Megan Birk, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
James F. Brooks, University of California–Santa Barbara
Jason Duncan, Aquinas College
Paul Finkelman, Gratz College
Patrick Garry, University of South Dakota
David F. Good, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
Jeffrey Helgeson, Texas State University
R. Douglas Hurt, Purdue University
Suzzanne Kelley, North Dakota State University Press
Bill Peterson, State Historical Society of North Dakota
Sara A. Kosiba, Kent State University
Gregory S. Rose, The Ohio State University at Marion
Matthew Sanderson, Kansas State University
Andrew Seal, University of New Hampshire

Jeff Wells, Dickinson State University 

Book Review Editor

Jonathan Kasparek, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Media Review Editor

Adam Ochonicky, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh


Call for Proposals
The Cold War Midwest
The journal Middle West Review seeks proposals for articles and essays for a special symposium exploring the various dimensions of the Cold War era Midwest. Topics may include, but are not limited to, Midwestern attitudes toward extensive American involvement in foreign affairs during the Cold War decades; the development of military bases and the installation of nuclear weapons in the Midwest; the role of ethnic groups from the captive nations in domestic politics (Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, etc); the experience of Midwesterners in the US military who served in Cold War zones; Midwestern heavy industry and the creation of the American arsenal; the influence of Cold War imperatives on the Civil Rights movement (i.e. the Brown decision); the role Midwestern diplomats such as George Kennan; political leaders skeptical of Cold War interventionism such as Robert Taft and John Bricker; the Vietnam war and the Midwest; Midwestern patriotism in a Cold War context; Midwestern conservatism and its role in American anti-Communism; campus protests and the Midwest; the role of Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin and similar anti-Communist political leaders; the role of groups on the progressive left and opposition to Cold War policies; the culture of the Cold War and domesticity; civil defense and bomb shelter construction; anti-Communist churches and religious leaders in the Midwest; the movement of Southeast Asian refugees to Iowa and Wisconsin and other Midwestern places; how the Cold War was experienced differently in the Midwest than other regions; the influence of religion in the Midwest during the Cold War era; films and literature which connect the Cold War and the Midwest.
300-word proposals along with a vita should be sent to Middle West Review at MWR@usd.edu by October 15, 2024. If a proposal is accepted for inclusion in the special symposium, final articles would be due by October 15, 2025.


Survey Results

Middle West Review has released the results for their survey made in conjunction with Emerson College Polling. Read more here.

Sponsoring Society

Middle West Review is affiliated with the Midwestern History Association. You may join the MHA here. Discounted subscriptions to Middle West Review are available as part of a membership bundle.

To learn more about the MHA, visit their website.


Reading List: Migration

This list of peer-reviewed materials features articles on many topics spanning Globalization, Genocide, Religion, Diaspora Communities, and other aspects on the topic of Migration.

Reading List: Willa Cather

This list of peer-reviewed articles & reviews centers on the work of acclaimed author (and UNL alum) Willa Cather. Known for her novels on the pioneer experience, her works are reexamined here through the lens of modern-day academics.

Reading List: Social Media

As online communities continue to widen their reach, so too does our list of peer-reviewed articles on various subjects including Journalism, Communal Narrative, Activism, Marketing, and Image Rehabilitation.

Reading List: Sports-Related Controversies, Social Issues, and Scandals

This sprawling list includes peer-reviewed articles on subjects as diverse as the fields of play they revolve around, including Violence in Sports, Gambling & Game Fixing, Drugs & Banned Substances, Mascots & Offensive Imagery, and other controversies.

Reading List: Women's Political Action in the U.S.

Resources for use in discussions of women's political activities in the U.S., both contemporary and historical.

Useful Links

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