Place, Culture, and Regional Identity
Edited by David M. Wrobel and Michael C. Steiner
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.
“Although there are no easy answers to questions about the roles of frontiers and regions in the American West, this book will be a source of stimulation in future debates about the elusive mindsets of westerners.”
—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“A lively and provocative series of discussions about the diverse pieces of the region that make up the larger whole.”
—Pacific Northwest QuarterlySee all reviews...
“Taken as a whole, the volume accomplishes the editors’ purpose: to present the possibility of many Wests. The essays themselves—and the comprehensive bibliographies accompanying them—attest to the complex vitality of the Wests’ various histories, geographies, and cultures.”
—Great Plains Quarterly
“While never getting bogged down in tired debates over the West as region or frontier, this worth collection quietly opens new ways to see the West as both—or better, a region of regions with emergent frontiers.”
—Western Historical Quarterly
“For those who seek a broader understanding of the complex social structure of what can no longer be seriously described as “the” West,Many Wests is an up-to-date and highly accessible starting point.”
—Annals of Wyoming
“Breaks new ground in the study of the American West. A must book for all students of western history and culture.”
—Richard W. Etulain, author of Reimagining the Modern American West
“The toughest job in western studies today is deciding just what the West is and how its maddeningly diverse parts stand alone yet fit together. In this fine book David Wrobel, Michael Steiner, and a baker’s dozen of other writers have raised the vital questions and have helped us toward elusive answers.”
—Elliott West, author of The Way to the West
“Besides cutting-edge scholarship, this book offers a multidimensional view of the West and regionalism. From the mountains to the Plains, men to women, one racial-ethnic group or social class to another, its interdisciplinary experts report, speculate, and suggest what it has meant to be western not only to the peoples who live in the West but to the nation as a whole.”
—Glenda Riley, author of The Female Frontier
“Highly stimulating, wide-ranging, and well written. To understand America one must understand the West (in its many forms), and this book helps greatly.”
—Walter Nugent, author of Crossings: The Great Transatlantic MigrationsSee fewer reviews...
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.