The American Midwest

The American Midwest

An Interpretive Encyclopedia
Richard Sisson, Chris Zacher and Andrew Cayton
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/08/2006
ISBN: 978-0-253-00349-2
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2007 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection

This first-ever encyclopedia of the Midwest seeks to embrace this large and diverse area, to give it voice, and help define its distinctive character. Organized by topic, it encourages readers to reflect upon the region as a whole. Each section moves from the general to the specific, covering broad themes in longer introductory essays, filling in the details in the shorter entries that follow. There are portraits of each of the region’s twelve states, followed by entries on society and culture, community and social life, economy and technology, and public life. The book offers a wealth of information about the region’s surprising ethnic diversity—a vast array of foods, languages, styles, religions, and customs—plus well-informed essays on the region’s history, culture and values, and conflicts. A site of ideas and innovations, reforms and revivals, and social and physical extremes, the Midwest emerges as a place of great complexity, signal importance, and continual fascination.

Author Bio

Richard Sisson is Provost and Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Ohio State University. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Christian Zacher is Professor of English at Ohio State University and Director of its Institute for Collaborative Research and Public Humanities. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Andrew Cayton is Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University. He lives in Oxford, Ohio.


“No matter what I write I begin there. ”
 — Toni Morrison

“What geography can give all Middle Westerners along with the fresh water and topsoil, if they let it, is awe for an Edenic continent stretching forever in all directions. Makes you religious. Takes your breath away. ”
 — Kurt Vonnegut

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Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Landscapes and People
1. Portraits of the Twelve States
2. Images of the Midwest
3. Geography
4. Peoples
III. Society and Culture
5. Language
6. Folklore
7. Literature
8. Arts
9. Cultural Institutions
10. Religion
11. Education
12. Sports and Recreation
13. Media and Entertainment
IV. Community and Social Life
14. Rural Life
15. Small-Town Life
16. Urban and Suburban Life
V. Economy and Technology
17. Labor and Working-Class Culture
18. Transportation
19. Science and Technology, Health and Medicine
VI. Public Life
20. Constitutional and Legal Culture
21. Politics
22. Military Affairs