Prairie Routes: Making a Global Heartland


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and affiliation with Gender Studies


This project remaps the history of global connections by shifting attention from coastal areas, borderlands, and major cities to the US heartland. Taking Champaign, Illinois, from 1820 to 1920 as its starting point, it challenges assumptions about Midwestern provincialism by tracing some of the many ties between Illinois farmers and the wider world in the very years that the old Northwestern frontier became the US heartland. This is a local history with global dimensions, one that treats the local less as a given than as an analytical problem. By following the threads that stitched the prairie patchwork to the globe, it finds that foreign relations—broadly conceived—were far more central to Midwestern history than the heartland myth has recognized.