When imagined in relation to other regions of the United States, the Midwest is often positioned as the norm, the uncontested site of white American middle-class heteronormativity. This characterization has often prevailed in scholarship on sexual identity, practice, and culture, but a growing body of recent queer work on rural sexualities, transnational migration, regional identities, and working-class culture suggests the need to understand the Midwest otherwise. This special issue offers an opportunity to think with, through, and against the idea of region. Rather than reinforce the idea of the Midwest as a core that naturalizes American cultural and ideological formations, these essays instead open up possibilities for unraveling the idea of the heartland.
The introduction provides a discussion of the theoretical and critical motivations for understanding the middle as a queer vantage, while the six articles focus on social movements, queer community networks, Midwest-based expressive cultures, and local and diasporic rearticulations of racial, gender, and sexual politics.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Martin Manalansanis Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Chantal Nadeau is Professor and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies, and Richard T. Rodriguez and Siobhan B. Somerville are Associate Professors in the Department of English.