The mission of the Center for Middletown Studies is to build on the scholarship inaugurated by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd in their landmark studies Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937). These in-depth accounts of life in Muncie, Indiana, became classic sociological studies and established the community as a barometer of social trends in the United States.
In the years since, scholars in a variety of fields have returned to Muncie to follow up on the Lynds' work, making this small city among the most studied communities in the nation. The center continues this tradition by sponsoring and promoting research on Muncie as Middletown, on small cities generally, on the sociocultural impact of large-scale economic change, and on other themes and issues the Lynds explored. It aims as well to develop new forms of digital scholarship that advance research and teaching in these areas.
Recently, Center has explored historical reading experiences, documented the process of consolidating local high schools, explored the impact of a factory closing, and welcomed scholars from China engaged in ethnographic studies of Middletown and American life. At present, the Center is examining the civic role of churches, everyday life experiences, and voter polarization in local contexts. For more information on current activities, see the News and Events page.
Other areas of research include:
Contact us for more information about our research and resources.
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