Indiana is one of the most prominent of the Midwestern states, bordering Lake Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east and Illinois to the west; it is home to the Indianapolis metropolitan area and was for centuries the home of various tribes of Native Americans. Ancient funeral mounds are now all that remain of the culture of these indigenous people, although the state’s name means ‘Land of the Indians’. The people of Indiana refer to themselves as ‘Hoosiers’; thought to be a derivation of the frontier greeting ‘Who’s there?’
Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons is a classic of American literature and offers a perspective on the culture of Indiana, and the Midwest in general, through the years following the Civil War as America rebuilt itself. It traces the changing fortunes of an old fashioned aristocratic family as they struggle to keep pace with the rapid modernisation of these years and was made into a film of the same name by Orson Welles.
Edward Eggleston’s The Hoosier Schoolmaster and The End of the World depict the early years of Indiana, when settlers were crossing the plains of the state to travel to the West Coast and the state was still considered a ‘frontier’ on the wilderness. Susan Neville’s Indiana Winter offers a more contemporary portrait of Indiana, blending fiction and reportage to paint a portrait of life in the state.
The cinema of Indiana is best represented by Lonesome Jim and The History of Violence, the former a record of Midwestern small town life and the latter a symbolic depiction of the threat of violence within this small town existence.