This collection of twenty-two essays, a product of recent revivals of interest in both Midwestern history and intellectual history, argues for the contributions of interior thinkers and ideas in forming an American identity. The Midwest has been characterized as a fertile seedbed for the germination of great thinkers, but a wasteland for their further growth. The Sower and the Seer reveals that representation to be false. In fact, the region has sustained many innovative minds and been the locus of extraordinary intellectualism. It has also been the site of shifting interpretations—to some a frontier, to others a colonized space, a breadbasket, a crossroads, a heartland. As agrarian reformer (and Michigander) Liberty Hyde Bailey expressed in his 1916 poem “Sower and Seer,” the Midwestern landscape has given rise to significant visionaries, just as their knowledge has nourished and shaped the region.
The essays gathered for this collection examine individual thinkers, writers, and leaders, as well as movements and ideas that shaped the Midwest, including rural school consolidation, women’s literary societies, Progressive-era urban planning, and Midwestern radical liberalism. While disparate in subject and style, these essays taken together establish the irrefutable significance of the intellectual history of the American Midwest.
About the Author:
JOSEPH HOGAN is the director of fact-checking at Retro Report. JON K. LAUCK is a professor of history and political science at the University of South Dakota and the editor-inchief of the Middle West Review. PAUL MURPHY is a professor of history at Grand Valley State University. ANDREW SEAL is a lecturer in the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. GLEAVES WHITNEY is the director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.