So let’s get this straight: An inaugural conference this month about the meaning of the Midwest is in … Michigan.
Not to take anything away from Michigan, but it gives recent talk about declaring Minnesota the epicenter of a new region called “North” a whiff of legitimacy.
At the very least, the conference in Grand Rapids jump-starts discussion not only about what the Midwest means and represents, but its boundaries, stretching by some measures from Colorado to Pennsylvania.
“Finding the Lost Region: A Conference on Rediscovering the Midwest, America’s Most Common Ground” aims to bring historians, scholars and interested others together to help explore how the culture and history of the Midwest influenced democracy, industry and culture.
“I know of no other event that has ever taken place like this,” said Jon Lauck, president of the new Midwestern History Association and author of “The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History.”
“It’s truly an historic moment in the effort to promote studies of the Midwest.”
(For more information, visit bit.ly/1CO2dye.)
Last November, the Walker Art Center hosted a symposium on Minnesota’s regional identity, discussing whether it is part of the Midwest, or part of a separate region.
There were no answers, but the question attracted a standing-room-only crowd and spurred media coverage, including a Wall Street Journal article that equated “North” with thriving heritage brands such as Red Wing shoes and Duluth packs.
Lauck, a lawyer and historian in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the two-day event in Michigan will explore the history, literature and art of the Midwest, Midwestern statesmanship — and the budding field of Midwestern Studies. □