Mike Garrett to deliver April 24 Honors Council Lecture

BEMIDJI, Minn.Dr. Mike Garrett, professor of geography at Bemidji State University, will present an Honors Council Lecture entitled “Mental Maps and Mindscapes of the American Midwest” on Wednesday, April 24. The lecture, which is free to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. in Hagg-Sauer 112 on the BSU campus.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in a place described as the American Midwest, not only as a physical location but also for the “Midwestern values” shared by its residents. Often referred to as “flyover land” between the coasts where nothing happens or needs to be noticed, this area also is referred to the heartland of the nation and the home of the American mainstream. Sinclair Lewis, Grant Wood and Garrison Keillor have each played their role in helping define the notion of Midwestern values, which are viewed with some grudging respect, if not admiration.

The Midwest as a region in the United States does exist as an actual place with distinguishable characteristics-at least to its residents. For those who reside on the outside, however, there is some doubt as to its true location. How is it that Americans in general tend to share a consensus on the location other national regions such as New England, the South and the Great Plains in their mental maps of the nation but are unable to precisely define the Midwest on that same map?

For many outsiders and even some residents, the Midwest may simply be a state of mind or perhaps just a central part of the country. But for many natives it is much more. To them it is a “mindscape” with clear and distinct qualities and a place full of personal meaning as a rich cultural region. Just ask them and they will tell you.

Garrett’s presentation considers images that often evoke a sense of place among long-term residents of the Midwest. It also examines the mental maps of approximately 2,500 Americans to see just who and what they include in their conceptions of the Midwest.

Garrett has been with the geography and political science departments at Bemidji State since 1979. He studied geography and Austin Peay College and Oklahoma State University, and later earned master’s and doctorate degrees at Oklahoma State. His major academic interests include land use analysis, historical geography and studies of ordinary landscapes. Garrett will retire from the Bemidji State faculty following the spring 2008 semester and is currently developing a book of essays.

April 24
– 7:00 p.m. – Bemidji State University Honors Lecture: Dr. Mike Garrett, “Mental Maps and Mindscapes of the American Midwest” Location: Hagg-Sauer 112, BSU. Admission: free.