American Gothicrnby Allan Carlsonrn”Do not the seas and the mountains and the prairies and the plains in somernmanner and to some extent transform men into their own Ukeness?”rn—Cyrenus ColernKinship with the Land: RegionalistrnThought in Iowa, 1894-1942rnby E. Bradford BurnsrnIowa City: University of Iowa Press;rn195 pp., $27.95rnThe America First cause of 1959-41rnfiuds a powerful, if unusual aud iudirect,rnaffirmation in E. Bradford Burns’rnKinship with the Land: RegionalistrnThought in Iowa, J894-J942. Betterrnknown for his liistories of Latin America,rnBurns returns to his native Iowa tornanalyze its “most productive period ofrnintclleetual inquiry, cultural vitality, selfperception,rnand self-expression.” lie describesrna wide-ranging “reolt againstrncultural nationalism” led b an unlikchrnband of Iowa poets, novelists, and artists.rnThey shaped “a vigorous, if not blatant,rnMidwestern patriotism,” and defendedrnit against the cultural and political wilesrnof New York and The Continent, beforernsuccumbing to the “internationalizationrnof the state during World \4ir II.”rnNotably, the author stresses the stabilityrnof Iowa’s material conditions duringrnthis period of artistic achievement. Thernstate counted 222,000 family farms inrn1894, and approximately the same numberrnin 1940, with the average size hold-rnAllan Carlson is president of ThernRockford Institute and pubUsher ofrnChronicles.rning at 155 acres. Panning tcc]inologrnremained relatiel static oxer this periodrnas well, with true horsepower still eompetitixernwith steam and the ead twoernlinder gasoline tractors. FACU the depressionrnin agricultural prices after 1920rn”turned attention inward” and “encouragedrnself reliance,” traits complementingrna ital regionalism.rn1 he task facing anv historian of arn”moNcment” is to transfornr isolatedrne’ents and the ideas and actions of indi-rniduals into a coherent narratie of causernan d effect. In this. Burns largely succeeds.rnI Ic traces the origins of the Iowarnrenaissance to the publication in 1894rnof Hamlin Ciarland’s Crumbling Jdols.rnDismissing the literarv tiannies of thernAmerican East Coast and Eurojje, Garlandrncalled for a great Midwestern literature:rn”Write of those things of which vournknow, for vhieh ou care most. Bv doingrnso, ()u will be true to ourself, true tornyour localit, and true to our time.”rnThe same ear saw publication of Poetsrnand Poetry of Iowa, an iinexcn but heft’rnanthology of xerse, much of it penned byrnfarmer-poets, and the founding of thernstate’s first literary journal, 1 he MidlandrnMonthly.rnIn 1899, Clarke Fisher, chairman ofrnthe English Department at the Universitrnof Iowa, organized the Writers Club,rnwhich soon became a center of regioiralistrnenthusiasm. A few years later, thernfamed Harvard philosopher, JosiahrnRovee, journeyed to Iowa City, where inrna widel}’ celebrated lecture he praisedrn”provincialism,” defining a province as arnplace “sufficienth unified to ha’e a truernconsciousness of its own units” and “arnpride in its own ideas and customs.” Regionalistrnsentiments sprang up amongrnthe faculties at Grinncll and Cornell colleges,rnas well.rn”Firnr novels” began to appear in profusion.rnAmong the best was HerbertrnQuick’s Vandemark’s holly, bearing thernessential theme of the farmer and thernsoil in unit. As one passage had it, usingrnthe sensual imagery that would becomerncommon to the genre: “Prior to thisrntime, I v’as courting the country; now Irnwas to be united with it in that holy wedlockrnthat binds the farmer to the soil herntills. Out of this black loam was to comernmy own flesh and blood, and the bodies,rnand I believe, in some measure, the soulsrnof my children.”rnThe mocment’s great efflorescencernfollowed the founding of a new literaryrnjournal. The Midland, in 1915. EditorrnJohn T. I’rederick described the IowarnCitv-based cjuarterly as “a modest attemptrnto encourage the making of literaturernm the Middle West.” Until itsrndemise in 1933, The Midland introducedrnan impressive crop of new Iowa writers.rnThese included Jay Sigmund and RuthrnSuekow, and Burns makes a notable con-rn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn