Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Democracy of Ghosts

No, this post isn't about the English Building, late in the afternoon, during the summer. It is about the publication of John Griswold's new novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, just published by Wordcraft of oregon, LLC (itself an interesting publishing venue, worth checking out).

Here is the press-supplied book description: "A DEMOCRACY OF GHOSTS is the love story of four couples, set against the backdrop of the Herrin Massacre of 1922. This clash of miners and strikebreakers in Bloody Williamson County, in Southern Illinois, resulted in the deaths of 21 men -- 19 of them the "scabs" tortured and murdered by average men, women, and even children in what was once the most radical community in America. John Griswold has drawn from contemporary eyewitnesses and news accounts, an ethnography of the area, histories, and his own grandfather's letters to create the lives of four fictional couples whose ambitions, self-doubts, and social and sexual jealousies contribute to this great American violence that still echoes down through time."

You can find out more by clicking through to John's own website here.

Late update #1: there is a recent interview with John--about his novel and the chunk of Southern Illinois history it deals with--in The Southern Illinoisan, here.

Late update #2 (and counting): John is being honored with the Delta Award, which has been given annually by the Morris Library at the University of Southern Illinois since 1976 for distinguished writing about Southern Illinois.

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