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188-026 WBIS: Midwestern History and Culture

188-026 WBIS: Midwestern History and Culture
Instructor: Adam Ochonicky
Whether you're a Wisconsin native or a recent transplant to the area, you currently are residing in the Midwest. Consequently, your status as a Midwesterner means that you're part of a region that has a long history and a complicated identity. As a region, the Midwest is situated uniquely within the American popular imagination. Often labeled as being "flyover country," this space and its inhabitants are considered to be both "authentically" American and a cultureless mass, among many other qualities. In this course, you will explore how such perceptions of the region have been produced by and circulate through a variety of texts, particularly historical and sociological readings.
While studying the Midwest, we will be guided by a few general considerations. What characteristics are identified as being essentially "Midwestern"? Why are particular qualities, behaviors, and tastes attributed to the Midwest? Who is counted as a Midwesterner, and which individuals or groups have been excluded from the region's popular identity? As the semester progresses, you will develop thoughtful responses to these concerns in your writing and during class discussions. Through this work, you will craft more precise and complex inquiries about the region's contested identity. Ultimately, by critically engaging with Midwestern history and culture, we may begin to more deeply understand and, potentially, reshape the space in which we live.

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