Joseph Amato (Dean) and Anthony Amato (Assistant
Professor) of the Center for Rural and Regional Studies at Southwest
State University struck a chord with their recent essay entitled
Minnesota, Real and Imagined: A View from the Countryside.
The essay was first published in the Summer 2000 issue of Dædalus,
the quarterly Journal
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A prestigious
journal in its 42nd year, Dædalus publishes path breaking
articles that concentrate on concerns facing Europe, America,
and the world at large. Over the years, issues have tackled multidisciplinary
topics in art, literature, science, culture, religion, and politics.
Minnesota: A Different America? is the first issue to focus
on a single state. Texas had also been considered for this special
regard, but the North Star state was the first to organize support
of its project.
In their essay, Joseph and Anthony Amato claim
that states are invented and reinvented by those who write about
them. A feeling for the flavor of the controversial article is
given in the following introductory paragraph: "The notion of
a Minnesota culture immediately strikes observers as counterfeit.
Minnesota, never a natural or cultural unit, was born and nurtured
by continuous artifice. At the time of its founding, Minnesota
was a fanciful invention used to draw immigrants to the state
with the enticement of all the land they wanted in a 'bracing
and invigorating climate.' Since then, various public and private
agencies (some educational, some philanthropic, some commercial)
have increased their power, prestige, and profit by fostering
select representations of the state. From Hollywood to National
Public Radio, promoters have turned Minnesota into a consumable
and profitable commodity."
By early spring, the essay will be published in
the Rural and Regional Essay Series distributed by the Center
for Rural and Regional Studies at Southwest State University.
The essay's pointed statements have also caught the attention
of editors at the Minnesota
Historical Society Press. Greg Britton, Director of the Minnesota
Historical Society Press, says they plan to republish the entire
Dædalus issue in book form by March 1, 2001. "Minnesota,
Real & Imagined" has been selected as the title of the book and
its namesake will be the third essay. In republishing this volume,
the Minnesota Historical Society aims to make an enduring contribution
to what Minnesota was, is, and is to become.