Finding the Lost Region is the theme of the Fourth Annual Midwestern History Conference hosted this week by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.
“From this conference has grown a number of scholarly projects and books and new emphasis on the region.”
Four years worth of lectures producing a new book, Finding a New Midwestern History, co-edited by Jon Lauck, examines Midwestern life; its history, religion, geography, art, race, culture, and politics.
What role will the Midwest play in the future of American culture?
“I think the region is in a strong position. I think it will get stronger. I think this revival in interest in the history of the region is a sign of that. I also think that the success of cities like Grand Rapids and Des Moines, Sioux Falls speaks to the future of the region. You know some people, all they want to talk about, when they talk about the Midwest is Youngstown or the suffering of Detroit, etc. But there are a lot of other places in the Midwest that are booming and thriving and doing well and I think those stories are going to be told more and more and people are going to be more aware of them. But I think there’s no question there’s a cultural renaissance going on right now where people are rediscovering their roots. There are more and more writers and artists and intellectuals who are deciding to remain in the region and focus their energies on the region where for so long the tendency was to flee to the coasts; to flee to L.A. or New York to pursue their artistic endeavors. That’s less common I think now and I think more and more people taking of technology and the internet to stay where they want to be and be creative there.”