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  • Finding the American Midwest in the World of Regional Studies

One important aspect of the Middle West Review’s mission, and of every regionally oriented journal, is to spur thinking about regional identity and how such identities develop, evolve, and shape the lives of both ordinary Americans and historical events. Regions greatly complicate national narratives and do much to promote historical complexity and interpretive nuance. Understanding regions as categories of analysis is critical to a more complete understanding of the American past. In recognition of the important role of regions in American life and historical practice and in order to better understand how the Midwest functions as a region, the Middle West Review reached out to several regional scholars for some deeper perspectives on regionality. In particular, in advance of the Western History Association meeting in St. Paul in October 2016, the Middle West Review called together a group of scholars and organized a panel for these scholars to talk about the state of their respective regional fields and about what the emerging field of midwestern studies might learn from them. After a lively discussion in St. Paul, the editors of Middle West Review decided to publish the remarks of these scholars, plus five more scholars, as part of this symposium. We think all scholars working in the field of midwestern studies, in addition to scholars working in regional studies more generally, will greatly benefit from the perspectives shared here, which stem from decades of work on the history of New England, the American West, the South, the Arctic, Appalachia, the Southwest, the Sunbelt, the Great Plains, the Pacific Northwest, and the Mid-Atlantic states. We believe that this is only the beginning of a robust and extensive discussion of the role of regions in American life and, in particular for our readers, the role of midwestern history and identity in American life. [End Page 23]



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