The first time my wife heard the pop song “Hopelessly Midwestern,” she turned to me and said, “That's you.” Looking back at the lyrics, I'm not sure she was right, except perhaps referring to the opening line, “If you live life in the middle and not on the edge, You're hopelessly Midwestern.” Knowing I grew up in Illinois, she recognized my roots, even if I would have had a hard time describing them as lasting much beyond the curse of being a lifetime Cubs fan. Aside from a decade in New Haven in college and graduate school, I have lived my entire adult life in the Mid-Atlantic, if Washington, DC, counts as much as the Philadelphia area. Yet no one would be tempted to call me “hopelessly Mid-Atlantic.” And therein lies the problem. When we articulate regional characteristics, immediate images emerge when describing New England, the South, and the West,...

You do not currently have access to this content.