Jon K. Lauck is trying to change the perception the Midwest is dull flyover country not worthy of literary or cultural inspection.
Lauck, a professor at the University of South Dakota, will launch his latest book, "From Warm Center to Ragged Edge: The Erosion of Midwest Literary and Historical Regionalism, 1920 to 1965," Sunday, June 25, at the Book Loft in German Village.
Lauck will speak about the book at 5 p.m. in the bookstore, 631 S. Third St. He is one of three authors speaking that day. The others are Tracy Lawson, author of "Pride of the Valley: Sifting Through the History of the Mount Healthy Mill," who will speak at 3 p.m.; and Eric Pennington, author of "The Well-Being Guide: Making the Most of Life and Work," who will speak at 6:30 p.m.
The decline of Midwest recognition started in the 1950s amid growing hostility of intellectuals toward the interior of the country and growing sense of cosmopolitanism in Hollywood and Manhattan, he said.
New York City being the publishing center of the country has only added to the detachment, Lauck said.
"I think publishers in Manhattan think it's just flyover country," he said. "It's boring. There are no stories there.
"Since we don't have any major publishing houses of our own, we're at the whim of what New York thinks will be a good book," he added.
Lauck, 46, grew up on a farm in eastern South Dakota. He received his doctorate at the University of Iowa and a law degree from the University of Minnesota.
He now teaches history and political science at the University of South Dakota and will begin a class about Midwestern culture this fall.
He is founding president of the Midwestern History Association, established two years ago to promote studies of the region.
"I think it's a very, very good start," he said. "Three years there was zero, zilch going on. We're making progress.
"My point is we need to reassert our own history, our own roots because other people aren't going to do it."
Lauck also is the book-review editor of the Middle West Review and the author of several other books, including, "The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History."
"I'm just trying to make the case the Midwest used to have a voice in the country and we're trying to revive that voice," he said.
Glen Welch, sales manager for the Book Loft, said it's unusual to have that many back-to-back authors in one day.
"We're just pleased to have three nonfiction authors here on Sunday," he said.