The Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume One, surveys the lives and writings of nearly 400 Midwestern authors and identifies some of the most important criticism of their writings. The Dictionary is based on the belief that the literature of any region simultaneously captures the experience and influences the worldview of its people, reflecting as well as shaping the evolving sense of individual and collective identity, meaning, and values. Volume One presents individual lives and literary orientations and offers a broad survey of the Midwestern experience as expressed by its many diverse peoples over time.
Philip A. Greasley's introduction fills in background information and describes the philosophy, focus, methodology, content, and layout of entries, as well as criteria for their inclusion. An extended lead-essay, "The Origins and Development of the Literature of the Midwest," by David D. Anderson, provides a historical, cultural, and literary context in which the lives and writings of individual authors can be considered.
This volume is the first of an ambitious three-volume series sponsored by the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature and created by its members. Volume Two will provide similar coverage of non-author entries, such as sites, centers, movements, influences, themes, and genres. Volume Three will be a literary history of the Midwest. One goal of the series is to build understanding of the nature, importance, and influence of Midwestern writers and literature. Another is to provide information on writers from the early years of the Midwestern experience, as well as those now emerging, who are typically absent from existing reference works.