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Game Changer event with historian and author Jon K. Lauck

A first-ever chronicle of the Midwest’s formative century, The Good Country restores this American heartland to its central place in the nation’s history.

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Time & Location

LOCATION

Virtual

DAY OF THE WEEK

Tuesday

TIME OF DAY

Evening

About:

ABOUT THIS EVENT

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

7-8 pm CST


The Good Country: A History of the American Midwest, 1800–1900

At the center of American history is a hole—a gap where some scholars’ indifference or disdain has too long stood in for the true story of the American Midwest. A first-ever chronicle of the Midwest’s formative century, The Good Country restores this American heartland to its central place in the nation’s history.


Jon K. Lauck, the premier historian of the region, puts midwestern “squares” center stage—an unorthodox approach that leads to surprising conclusions. The American Midwest, in Lauck’s cogent account, was the most democratically advanced place in the world during the nineteenth century. The Good Country describes a rich civic culture that prized education, literature, libraries, and the arts; developed a stable social order grounded in Victorian norms, republican virtue, and Christian teachings; and generally put democratic ideals into practice to a greater extent than any nation to date.


The outbreak of the Civil War and the fight against the slaveholding South only deepened the Midwest’s dedication to advancing a democratic culture and solidified its regional identity. The “good country” was, of course, not the “perfect country,” and Lauck devotes a chapter to the question of race in the Midwest, finding early examples of overt racism but also discovering a steady march toward racial progress. He also finds many instances of modest reforms enacted through the democratic process and designed to address particular social problems, as well as significant advances for women, who were active in civic affairs and took advantage of the Midwest’s openness to women in higher education.

Lauck reaches his conclusions through a measured analysis that weighs historical achievements and injustices, rejects the acrimonious tones of the culture wars, and seeks a new historical discourse grounded in fair readings of the American past. In a trying time of contested politics and culture, his book locates a middle ground, fittingly, in the center of the country.


Jon K. Lauck grew up in South Dakota and earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa and his law degree from the University of Minnesota. He is interested in the history, culture, economics, and politics of the American Midwest and in American and European history more generally.


Moderator David Adler is President of The Alturas Institute, a non-profit organization created to promote the Constitution, gender equality, and civic education.


HND VALUE STATEMENT

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota. However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally. Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University. To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.


Humanities North Dakota classes and events are funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities

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