Cornbelt Heartland: Region and Landscapes in Space and Time
Based on examples from southwestern Minnesota and the Midwest of the United States, this paper contemplates the potential of region and landscape as guiding modes of humanistic inquiry. Both provide ways to organize knowledge and examine texts. In the last three decades, region has outgrown the confines of geography and it has become a common concept in studies across disciplines. Regions, which serve as categories for scholars’ analyses, have considerable vernacular currency and inform people’s actions, thus endowing the concept of region with reflexivity. Landscapes also have great potential for inquiries. Once associated exclusively with the natural sciences or the visual arts, landscapes have steadily gained ground in the humanities and social sciences. Whether understood as texts to be read, processes of work, or the outgrowths of symbolic systems, landscapes yield insights into people and places. Explorations of landscape and region in southwestern Minnesota and the U.S. Midwest reveal how these two American areal abstractions serve both to define and conceal places and processes in a fluid world. In a larger sense, both region and landscape raise the question of how texts transcend the boundaries of time and space, while being expressions bounded in specific temporal and spatial contexts.
Keywords: Region, Landscape, United States of America, Space, Time
Dr. Anthony Amato
Associate Professor of Rural and Regional Studies, Center for Rural and Regional Studies, Southwest Minnesota State University