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Abstract

This paper examines how representations of Iowa in popular culture have led to tourism development in three small communities – Eldon, Mason City and Dyersville. It squarely situates Iowa within the framework of America’s mythic heartland and then analyzes three enduring artifacts of American popular culture – the painting American Gothic, the musical The Music Man, and the film The Field of Dreams. While these popular images of Iowa have significantly helped the economies of these small communities, I contend that Iowa’s wider state identity has ultimately been hindered by these representations because of their strong resonance in the American imagination.

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