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Remaking the HeartlandMiddle America since the 1950s$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691146119

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691146119.001.0001

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Here in the Middle

Here in the Middle

Chapter:
(p.7) One Here in the Middle
Source:
Remaking the Heartland
Author(s):

Robert Wuthnow

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691146119.003.0002

This chapter reflects on the idea of an American heartland now beset with problems and how it intertwines with nostalgic visions of a better past. Both perceptions play well to the insiders who live in declining rural communities and to audiences who have long since pursued more glamorous lifestyles elsewhere. The chapter considers the case of Smith County, situated at the exact geographic middle of the United States: the heart of America's heartland. That America's heartland is a thing of the past is a long-standing refrain in treatments of the region. The reigning motif is nostalgia for a pastoral village-based America. The other common perspective on middle America sees the region as a social problem. The chapter argues that neither nostalgia nor an emphasis on social problems adequately captures the complexity of the social transformations that took place in America's heartland.

Keywords:   heartland, rural communities, Smith County, nostalgia, middle America, social problems, social transformations

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