Seeking applications for editorial positions

The Executive Board of Middle West Review is accepting applications for the positions of Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor, and Book Review Editor until May 20th. Full applications, including statement of interest, vision statement, and vita, can be sent to Paula Nelson at nelsonp1951@yahoo.com for consideration by the Executive Board. 

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Announcing the Inaugural John E. Miller Prize

With great pleasure, the John E. Miller Prize Committee announces the winner of the 2020 prize for best article or essay to appear in the journal Middle West Review during the 2020 calendar year. Narrowing down the field of contenders to one top choice was daunting, given the high quality of scholarship and intriguing arguments present in all the articles under consideration. Jason Weems’ contribution, “Holding the Soil: A Note on the Conservation of Midwesternness,” went beyond those parameters, however. Weems, an art historian, employs innovative sources to arrive at a nuanced analysis about the widespread notion of midwestern identity as being rooted in the soil. Weems employs the most common depictions of midwestern landscapes in the 19th century, plat books, to identify midwestern identity of the time as resting on widespread availability of land rather than on the soil itself. Weems posits this as an economic relationship in which short-term exploitation of the soil was a far more typical experience of Midwesterners than long-term attachment. This “frontier mentality,” as Weems describes it, lasted only as long as the frontier itself. Subsequent generations of Midwesterners looked upon the landscape with different eyes. Weems argues that “it is probably no coincidence that Midwesterners became aware of the eroding status of their landscape in the same moment that they also saw the need to reorient regional identity.” (p. 132) The signature Midwestern trait of rootedness to the soil, Weems explains, came from second-generation residents who abandoned their frontier mentality – a horizontal orientation – for a deeper, vertical rootedness in place. Weems contrasts the horizontal plat book images, which appeal to the eye but also to the economic value of the land, with vertical photographs of the soil taken in the 1930s, showing soil depth and health, agricultural potential, but also fragility.  The John E. Miller Prize Committee deemed Weems’ analysis a substantial contribution to the historical understanding of midwestern identity formation and proudly bestows the 2020 Prize on Jason Weems’ Fall 2020 article, “Holding the Soil.” 

The Miller prize is named for the long-time South Dakota State University history professor John E. Miller, who died unexpectedly in May 2020. Miller was always a strong supporter of Middle West Review and the Midwestern History Association. Miller, a Midwesterner with roots in Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri, Miller was the author of several books and many articles on Midwestern history.  

Miller Prize Committee: 

Paula Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Platteville  

Jason Peters, Augustana College (Rock Island, Illinois) 

Dedra McDonald Birzer, South Dakota State Historical Society Press  

CFP: The Jewish Midwest

The Middle West Review welcomes proposals outlining potential articles on various aspects of midwestern Jewish history for a special issue of the journal. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, Jewish life in major cities such as Detroit and Chicago and smaller cities such as Saginaw and Sioux Falls; the experience of Jews in midwestern small towns, on farms, and within other rural settings; prominent intellectuals and artists such as Saul Bellow, Nelson Algren, Horace Kallen, Studs Terkel, Betty Friedan, Marge Piercy, Philip Levine, and Bob Dylan; Jewish political involvement; and, most generally, how life was experienced by midwestern Jews in comparison to the Jewish experience in other American regions. Proposals should be two paragraphs, include a CV, and be sent to MWR@USD.edu by 2/1/20.

CFP: The Great Migration and Smaller Midwestern Cities

The critical importance of the Great Migration to Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee has been well-documented. Less understood has been the history and impact of the Great Migration in smaller midwestern urban spaces (such as Peoria, Saginaw, Council Bluffs, and Sioux Falls, etc.) in the century between the Civil War and the modern Civil Rights Movement (approx. 1860-1970). The Middle West Review, in recognition of the centennial of the Great Migration era, welcomes proposals outlining potential articles on this lesser-known migration for publication in a special issue of the journal. Proposals should be two paragraphs, include a CV, and be sent to MWR@USD.edu by December 15, 2019.

Seeking associate editor and book review editor applications

Middle West Review seeks applications for two positions: Associate Editor and Book Review Editor. An Associate Editor performs a range of tasks, including shepherding manuscripts, managing the peer review process, and editing manuscripts. The Book Review Editor manages the selection of books to review, the circulation of books to review, and the editing of book reviews. Interested parties should submit a letter of application and a CV to Jeff Wells by May 20, 2019 at wellsrjd@unk.edu

CFP: special issue, Indigenous Midwest

The Middle West Review, a new interdisciplinary journal about the American Midwest published by the University of Nebraska Press, will be publishing a special issue focused on the Indigenous Midwest. The journal aims to generate interest in critical study of the Midwest as a distinctive region and to provide space for scholarship that moves beyond the homogeneous narratives of settler patriarchy that dominate popular perceptions of the Midwest. The special issue seeks scholarly essays that work at the intersection of Native American, and Indigenous studies, and midwestern studies. The editors are particularly interested in essays that emphasize the U.S. Midwest as Indigenous homelands, as a series of historically contested borderlands, as a region that continues to be structured by settler colonialism in the present, and as a site of Indigenous endurance and resurgence within and beyond both reservation and urban communities. The editors are also interested in submissions that explore Indigenous experiences in the Midwest as they intersect with issues of multiraciality, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Analyses of environmental problems affecting Indigenous communities are also welcome. The temporal focus is open across all time periods, and submissions are invited across all scholarly disciplines.

Article submissions should run between 6,000 and 10,000 words (including footnotes) and must follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Review essays that engage multiple books that have recently been published in the field, exhibitions, events, or multimedia should run between 2,500 and 5,000 words. Photo essays with accompanying artist statements are also welcome.

Please submit manuscripts by September 1, 2015, via email to the co-editors, James F. Brooks (jbrooks@history.ucsb.edu) at the University of California-Santa Barbara and Doug Kiel (doug.kiel@williams.edu) at Williams College.

CFP: special issue, midwestern farm crisis

The Middle West Review invites submissions for a special issue on the farm crisis. During the 1980s, an economic crisis displaced thousands of farm families and affected the broader social, political, economic, and cultural foundations of the Midwest. Now, thirty years later, this special issue strives to capture that broader picture and initiate new dialogues on the legacy of those difficult years.

Guest editors Jenny Barker-Devine, associate professor of history at Illinois College, and David Vail, assistant professor and public services archivist at Kansas State University, welcome essays that explore the effects of the Farm Crisis on individuals, farms, and communities, as well as analyses of activism, policy, and politics. Because we still have much to learn about the Farm Crisis, the editors also welcome articles that review specific archival collections, oral history collections, and other materials that will assist researchers interested in locating more information on this period. Essays should be firmly rooted within a framework of midwestern regional identity. Authors might consider questions such as: How did the farm crisis unfold? Who did it affect and how? Did individual resistance and the activist response result in meaningful change? In what ways did it shape the Midwest of today? What kinds of assumptions about regional identity motored media and policy responses to the crisis? Thirty years later, what long-term political, economic, and social consequences? What can the legacy of activist groups, or more specifically the Farm Aid benefit, teach us about philanthropy, region, and historical memory?

Essays should run between 5,000 to 10,000 words and articulate a central thesis about the study of the Midwest. These works should build upon original research or new interpretations of existing sources and advance a unique argument that complicates the existing body of knowledge pertaining to the American Midwest.

The Middle West Review also welcomes photo essays that incorporate original photographs of or about the Midwest. Contributors should include a description of each photograph and a brief written explanation (100 to 200 words) of their significance as a body of work.

All contributions will undergo a process of peer review spearheaded by the Middle West Review editorial board. Your submission will either be accepted for publication outright, returned with a request to “revise and resubmit,” or rejected outright. All submissions will benefit from the comments and revisions of the Middle West Review editorial board and its editorial reviewers.

The Middle West Review is a biannual, interdisciplinary, scholarly journal about the American Midwest. The inaugural issue was published in September 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. It aims to explore the significance of midwestern identity, geography, society, culture, and politics. We urge scholars and non-scholars alike to probe these and other questions in thoughtful submissions to the Middle West Review. A peer reviewed journal, the Middle West Review seeks to reach a popular audience while also remaining on the cutting edge of scholarly inquiry. To these ends, the Middle West Review encourages submissions of all varieties, especially those that push the boundaries of interdisciplinarity and interactivity. For more information, please visit: https://uimiddle.wordpress.com.

Contributors should submit their work to: uimiddle@gmail.com no later than May 1, 2015. Any questions may be directed to guest editors Jenny Barker-Devine (jenny.barker-devine@mail.ic.edu) and David Vail (ddvail@ksu.edu).