About Midwestern Stories
Midwestern Stories invites visitors to take a fresh look at a familiar space, exploring the complex landscape that is alternately celebrated as America’s “Heartland” and derided as “Flyover Country.” The project’s focus on individual stories reflects an awareness that the Midwest is host to a great variety of people and experiences that resist broad characterizations.
This website is the digital iteration of a panel exhibit on display from April 23-July 12, 2021 at Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, Indiana. The students who created the physical and digital exhibits were part of a spring 2021 course at Ball State University entitled “Midwestern Stories: Constructing Our Contemporary Identity,” taught by Dr. Kathryn Ludwig. In preparation for exhibit development, students engaged a variety of contemporary texts, including literature and television shows, and conversed with faculty from multiple disciplines to learn about Midwestern history, culture and demographics. The digital exhibit assembled here presents a deeper look at the stories presented in the panel exhibit. This site also offers student reviews of contemporary literary works by Midwestern writers and links to conversations and music collected during our semester of studying the Midwest.
This website also provides access to the podcast series created by students in Dr. Andrea Wolfe’s fall 2020 course, “Midwestern Stories: Complicating the Mythic Landscapes of Farm and Factory.” Students in this course studied the agricultural and industrial Midwestern past and explored the kinds of stories that are left out of the popular idealization of farm and factory in the American imagination through the study of contemporary Midwestern novels. The podcast series, Stories from the Heartland, presents accounts from Midwesterners from the 1930s-90s.
The projects to come out of the two-course series, the podcast and this exhibit, were funded by a grant from Indiana Humanities, through the “One State, One Story” Campus Read program, and by a Ball State University Provost Immersive Learning Grant. We also offer our sincere thanks to everyone who supported student learning during this project, including all of our interviewees, Ball State faculty and library staff who generously shared their expertise with us, those at the Digital Corps who helped with design and production on both projects, and our mentors at Minnetrista, George Buss, Jessica Jenkins and Nalleli Guillen.
Student exhibit creators:
Haleigh DeGrow (intern)
Andrea Eads (graduate student)