Seeking Applications for Book Review Editor

The Middle West Review is accepting applications for the position of Book Review Editor. To apply, please send a vita and letter of intent to Middle West Review at the following address: The application deadline is July 15, 2021. To learn more about Middle West Review, visit the website: This is an unpaid position. 


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 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 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

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 ( at the University of California-Santa Barbara and Doug Kiel ( 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:

Contributors should submit their work to: no later than May 1, 2015. Any questions may be directed to guest editors Jenny Barker-Devine ( and David Vail (

CFP: The Midwestern Borderland: A Reading Group

Call For Applicants: The Midwestern Borderland: A Reading Group

Final Workshop at Northwestern University, May 16, 2015

Historians have long recognized the agricultural and industrial might of the Midwest, but few focus on its proximity to and reliance on an international border with Canada. On the other hand, scholars of the West and Southwest have explored the role America’s international border with Mexico plays in determining social, political and cultural trends in that region. Flagship universities in Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico all devote significant time and resources to questions of race and space along the U.S.-Mexican border. This reading group seeks to promote new modes of inquiry among emerging scholars of the Midwest by applying the insights of borderlands literature to a Midwestern context.

As part of an initiative sponsored by the Humanities Without Walls project sponsored by Northwestern’s Kaplan Center for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation we invite applications from scholars of CIC institutions whose work on the Midwest would benefit from borderlands literature. During the 2014-2015 academic year we will meet digitally six times on October 18, November 15, December 13, February 21, March 21 and April 18th to discuss a different book or set of articles concerning North American borderlands. On May 16, participants will be given a small stipend to travel to Northwestern for a day-long academic workshop in which participants will present and critique each other’s original work.

Proposals should be limited to five hundred words and outline exactly how your work on the Midwest would benefit from engagement with borderlands literature.

Proposal and CV Due: September 15, 2014

Send materials to Ashley Johnson at

Important announcement about the MWR

Dear friends of and contributors to the Middle West Review:

As you all know, we had previously expected to publish our initial issue next week. However, in the past few days, we have been working toward finalizing a partnership with the University of Nebraska Press (UNP). As we negotiate and agree upon the terms of this partnership, we will need to postpone the publication of our inaugural issue and the launch of our website. At this time, we are uncertain of the exact date on which this issue will be published, but we can reasonably expect to do so in the next three months. Accordingly, we have extended the deadline for submissions to be considered for this initial issue. Though we were prepared to publish a strong inaugural issue next week, we feel that we can supplement the excellent work we have already selected, revised, and readied for publication. We therefore encourage all those interested in contributing to the Middle West Review to do so before Monday, June 9, 2014. We are very excited about the prospect of working with the UNP and feel that this minor delay will prove worthwhile.

The Middle West Review will continue to operate in much the same way that it has. Our current editorial structure will not be significantly altered. Nonetheless, the UNP will assist with some critical logistical matters and allow us to bring our content to a wider audience. The UNP staff will help with copyediting, typesetting, printing, marketing, fulfilling subscription orders, archiving, financial recordkeeping, managing copyright and subsidiary issues, web development, and digital publishing.

Most importantly, our vision of reviving the study of the American Midwest will remain firmly intact. This partnership will make the Middle West Review a stronger and more effective product. Through this collaborative arrangement, we look forward to bringing fine, cutting edge scholarship on the Midwest to the public.

Thank you for your patience with the Middle West Review and your dedication to our mission. If you have any questions or concerns about this new partnership and the future direction of the journal, please feel free to contact editor-in-chief Paul Mokrzycki via email at


The Middle West Review editorial board