Many Wests: Place, Culture, and Regional Identity / Edition 1

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What does it mean to live in the West today? Do people tend to identify with states, with regions, or with the larger West? This book examines the development of regional identity in the American West, demonstrating that it is a regionally diverse entity made up of many different wests—Great Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and more—in which American regionalism finds its fullest expression.

These fourteen original essays tell how a sense of place emerged among residents of various regions and how a sense of those places was developed by people outside of them. Wrobel and Steiner first offer a compelling overview of the West's regional nature; then thirteen other rising or renowned scholars-from history, American Studies, geography, and literature-tell how regional consciousness formed among inhabitants of particular regions.

All of the essays address the larger issue of the centrality of place in determining social and cultural forms and individual and collective identities. Some focus on race and culture as the primary influences on regional consciousness while others emphasize environmental and economic factors or the influence of literature. Some even examine western regionalism in areas that lie beyond the West as it has traditionally been conceived. Each of the contributors believes that where a people live helps determine what they are, and they write not only about the many wests within the larger West, but also about the constant state of flux in which regionalism exists.

Many books speak of the West as a place, but few others deal with the West's different places. Many Wests presents a vision of the West that reflects both the common heritage and unique character of each major subregion, building on the revisionist impulse of the last decade to help redirect New Western History toward an appreciation of regional diversity and integrate scholarship in the regional subfields. It is a book for everyone who lives in, studies, or loves the West, for it confirms that it is home to very different peoples, economies, histories—and regions.

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Editorial Reviews

These 14 articles address how regional consciousness was formed among the inhabitants of various western regions (the Pacific Northwest, the Great Basin, the Rocky Mountains the Snake River Region, and the Southern and Northern Plains, among others) and how "the centrality of place" determines social and cultural forms, and individual and collective identities. The authors focus on different factors such as race and culture, environmental and economic forces, or the influence of literature and other aesthetic forms as primary influences in shaping regional identities, although in a number of the articles these categories are blurred. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700608621
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 496,616
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Table of Contents


1. Many Wests: Discovering a Dynamic Western Regionalism, Michael C. Steiner and David M. Wrobel

Part One: Environment and Economy

2. A Fishy Proposition: Regional Identity in the Pacific Northwest, John M. Findlay

3. When the Desert Won't Bloom: Environmental Limitation and the Great Basin, Elizabeth Raymond

4. Round Pegs in Square Holes: The Rocky Mountains and Extractive Industry, Anne F. Hyde

5. The Expectations of Others: Struggles Toward a Sense of Place in the Northern Plains, James R. Shortridge

Part Two: Aesthetic Wests

6. The Telltale Southern Plains, Bret Wallach

7. Searching for an Angle of Repose: Women, Work, and Creativity in Early Montana, Mary Murphy

8. Mountain, Plain, Desert, River: The Snake River Region as a Western Crossroads, Peter Boag

Part Three: Race and Ethnicity

9. Forging a Cosmopolitan Civic Culture: The Regional Identity of San Francisco and Northern California, Glenna Matthews

10. Privileging the Mission over the Mexican: The Rise of Regional Identity in Southern California, William Deverell

11. Region and Ethnicity: Topographical Identities in Texas, Arnold de Leon

Part Four: Extended Wests

12. The Other Northwest: The Regional Identity of a Canadian Province, Richard Maxwell Brown

13. Noncontiguous Wests: Alaska and Hawai'i, John S. Whitehead

14. Cuentos de la Tierra Encantada: Magic and Realism in the Southwest Borderlands, Paula Gunn Allen

List of Contributors


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