The Midwest wasn’t always seen as flyover country.
That term refers to the idea that there’s no reason for people living on one of the U.S. coasts to stop when traveling from one side of the country to the other. It’s also an idea Jon Lauck wants to dispel through a revival of regional studies.
Lauck is the founding president of the Midwestern History Association, the associate editor and book review editor of the Middle West Review, and an adjunct professor of history and political science at the University of South Dakota.
He is also the author of several books, including “From Warm Center to Ragged Edge: The Erosion of Midwestern Literary and Historical Regionalism, 1920-1965.”
On Thursday, he talked to about a dozen people at the Indiana Memorial Union for the Indiana University history department’s Historical Teaching and Practice speaker series.
For about 90 minutes, he explained why the Midwest was once considered the heart of American culture, why that’s no longer the case and why studying the region is so important.
From the end of the Civil War to World War II, the Midwest was seen as the dominant region of the country, Lauck said. Many presidents from that time period hailed from the Midwest. It was the industrial heart of the country, with cities such as Detroit driving the national economy.