By Edward Watts
“Edward Watts has written a noteworthy book that deserves the attention of several audiences…An American Colony is a pleasure to read. It stimulates thought and alters perspectives. Other historians, including graduate students, will discover new fields to till.”
Michael Batinski, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
The Old Northwest—the region now known as the Midwest—has been largely overlooked in American cultural history, represented as a place smoothly assimilated into the expanding, manifestly-destined nation. An American Colony: Regionalism and the Roots of Midwestern Culture studies the primary texts and principal conflicts of the settlement of the Old Northwest to reveal that its entry into the nation’s culture was not without problems. In fact, Edward Watts argues that it is best understood as a colony of the United States, just as the eastern states were colonies of the British Empire.
Reconsidered as a colony, the Old Northwest becomes a crucible revealing the complex entanglement of local, indigenous, and regional interests with the coercions of racism, nationalism, and imperialism. This conflicted setting, like those of all settlement colonies, was beset by competing views of local identity, especially as they came to contradict writers from the eastern seaboard.
Using postcolonial theories developed to describe other settlement colonies, An American Colony identifies the Old Northwest as a colony and its culture as less than fully participating in either the nation’s or its own writing and identity. This embedded sense of cultural inferiority, Watts argues, haunts Midwestern culture even today.
Edward Watts is an associate professor of American thought and language at Michigan State University. He is the co-editor of The First West: Writing from the American Frontier, 1776-1860 and author of Writing and Postcolonialism in the Early Republic. More info →
Save 20% ($44)
US and Canada only
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
Why is there a national monument near a small town on the Minnesota prairie? Why do the town’s residents dress as Indians each summer and perform a historical pageant based on a Victorian-era poem? To answer such questions, Building on a Borrowed Past: Place and Identity in Pipestone, Minnesota shows what happens when one culture absorbs the heritage of another for civic advantage.Founded
“Business during the Week was very dull. The great Plague of the Year Cholera is driving every Country [person] and Merchants from Surrounding Cities away. The City looks like a desert Compared to its usual animated appearance. People parting for a day or so, bid farewell to each other. My Partners family are fortunately in the Country. I and Clemens sleep in the Same bed, in Case of a Sudden attack to be within groaning distance.”—u2009Diary entry for Sunday, May 13th, 1849
From 1840 to 1900, midwestern Americans experienced firsthand the profound economic, cultural, and structural changes that transformed the nation from a premodern, agrarian state to one that was urban, industrial, and economically interdependent. Midwestern commercial farmers found themselves at the heart of these changes. Their actions and reactions led to the formation of a distinctive and particularly democratic consumer ethos, which is still being played out today.By
Originally published in 1995, editors Noble and Wilhelm gathered experts in history and architecture to write on the nature and meaning of Midwestern barns. Featuring a new introduction by Timothy G. Anderson, Barns of the Midwest is the definitive work on this ubiquitous but little studied architectural symbol of a region and its history.
Sign up to be notified when new Ohio and Regional titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.