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

Friday, December 18, 2009

John Griswold stikes again!

The indefatigable John Griswold, whose novel A Democracy of Ghosts was published by Wordcraft earlier this year, has just published Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City with The History Press, an interesting publishing venture that is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of local US history.

A Democracy of Ghosts (just in case some readers of this blog have not already read it!) is a historical novel set against the backdrop of Herrin ca. 1922, the time of the infamous Herrin Massacre. This book tells that history, but as one chapter of a more comprehensive look at the city's history.

Here is the book description: "Herrin, Illinois, has seen many dramatic events unfold in the nearly two hundred years since it was a bell-shaped prairie on the frontier. Now, Herrin native John Griswold, a writer and teacher at the University of Illinois, provides the first comprehensive history of this most American city, a place that in its time became not just a melting pot but also a cauldron. Discover why the coal was so good in the 'Quality Circle' and what happened to the boom that followed its discovery. Explore the roots of the vicious Herrin Massacre of 1922 and learn why the entire nation has focused its gaze on this small midwestern city so many times.

Incorporating the most recent scholarship, interviews and classic histories and narratives, this brief and entertaining history is illustrated with more than seventy-five archival photos that help tell this important American story."

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