The term "the Heartland" is often used by politicians trying to connect with people, and is also used to define a national identity, often in a way that excludes some people within the country. The heartland has become a term of mythology that defines a place and a people that inhabits it, and in the US, it evokes ruralness, or small town values, agriculturally or Main Street oriented, overwhelmingly white, and suspicious of the outside world.
University of Illinois historian Kristin Hoganson decided to investigate this idea of 'heartland' through a deep examination of her home, the college town of Champaign-Urbana in Illinois. By taking this micro-view of a community, she digs down through layers of community history and found story after story that belies this mythology surrounding the heartland, even as that myth becomes more enshrined as belief. Hoganson's book, "The Heartland: An American History" was an acclaimed book last year and is now out in soft-cover.