Hallwas, John E(dward) 1945-

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HALLWAS, John E(dward) 1945-

PERSONAL: Born May 24, 1945, in Waukegan, IL; son of Emil Ferdinand (a building contractor) and Ruth Edna (Wells) Hallwas; married Garnette Verna Stockstad, January 3, 1966; children: John Darrin, Evan Bradley. Education: Western Illinois University, B.S., 1967, M.A., 1968; University of Florida, Ph.D., 1972. Hobbies and other interests: Nature study, fitness walking, bicycling.

ADDRESSES: Home—31 Shorewood Dr., Macomb, IL 61455-9746. Office—Department of English, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455; fax: 309-298-2781. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: University of Florida, Gainesville, member of English faculty, summer, 1970; Western Illinois University, Macomb, began as assistant professor, became associate professor, 1970-81, professor of American literature, 1981—, distinguished professor, 1992-93, director of Regional Collections at University Library, 1979—. Spoon River College, Macomb, IL, part-time faculty member, 1987—. Visiting lecturer at Carl Sandburg College, 1976, Monmouth College, 1979, Black Hawk College, 1990, and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1995.

MEMBER: Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, Society of Midland Authors, Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, Illinois State Historical Society, McDonough County Historical Society (president, 1981-1983), Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from Illinois Humanities Council, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985; Faculty Service Award, National University Continuing Education Association, 1981, for excellence in adult-education programming; Citizen of the Year Award, city of Macomb, IL, 1990, for civic contributions; John Whitmer Historical Association Award, best article category, 1990, for the article "Mormon Nauvoo from a Non-Mormon Perspective"; Superior Achievement Award, Illinois State Historical Society, 1992, for Macomb: A Pictorial History; Mid-America Award, Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, 1994, for distinguished contributions to the study of Midwestern literature; Spoon River Anthology was named an "Outstanding Academic Book" of the year, Choice, 1995; Mormon History Association Award, best documentary, and John Whitmer Historical Association Award, best book, both 1996, for Cultures in Conflict; Nominations for the National Book Award, for Nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, both 1998, for The Bootlegger.


The Western Illinois Poets (monograph), Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL), 1975.

(Editor, with Dennis J. Reader) The Vision of This Land: Studies of Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Lee Masters, and Carl Sandburg, Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL), 1976.

(Editor) Western Illinois University Libraries: A Handbook, Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL), 1980.

(Editor, with Jerrilee Cain-Tyson and Victor Hicken) Tales from Two Rivers, Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL), Volume 1, 1981, Volume 2, 1982, Volume 3, 1984, Volume 4 (with David R. Pichaske), 1987, and Two Rivers Arts Council (Macomb. IL), Volume 5 (with Alfred J. Lindsey), 1990, Volume 6 (with Lindsey), 1996.

The Poems of H.: The Lost Poet of Lincoln's Springfield, Ellis Press (Peoria, IL), 1982.

The Conflict (play), produced at Argyle Park Theatre, 1982.

Four on the Frontier (one-act plays; includes "Warrior at Sundown," "American Prophet," "Abolitionist in Congress," and "The Backwoods Preacher"), performed on a tour of western Illinois communities, 1982-83.

Western Illinois Heritage, Illinois Heritage Press (Macomb, IL) 1983.

Thomas Gregg: Early Illinois Journalist and Author (monograph), Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL), 1983.

McDonough County Heritage, Illinois Heritage Press (Macomb, IL), 1984.

(Editor, with Robert Graybill, Judy Hample, and others) Teaching the Middle Ages, Volume II, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching (Warrensburg, MO), 1985.

(With Gene Kozlowski) The Paper Town (play), produced at Argyle Park Theatre, 1985.

Illinois Literature: The Nineteenth Century, Illinois Heritage Press (Macomb, IL), 1986.

(Author of introduction) Eliza W. Farnham, Life in Prairie Land, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1988.

(Author of introduction) James Gray, The Illinois, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1989.

Studies in Illinois Poetry, Stormline Press (Champaign, IL), 1989.

Macomb: A Pictorial History, G. Bradley Publishing (St. Louis, MO), 1990.

(Editor) Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology: An Annotated Edition, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1992.

(Author of introduction) Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems: Carl Sandburg, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1992.

The Legacy of the Mines: Memoirs of Coal Mining in Fulton County, Illinois, Spoon River College (Canton, IL), 1993.

(With Roger D. Launius) Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, Utah State University Press (Logan, UT), 1995.

(Editor, with Roger D. Launius) Kingdom on the Mississippi Revisited: Nauvoo in Mormon History, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1996.

The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1998.

(Author of introduction) Robert J. Burdette, The Drums of the 47th, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1999.

First Century: A Pictorial History of Western Illinois University, Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL), 1999.

Keokuk and the Great Dam, Arcadia Publishing (Chicago, IL), 2001.

McDonough County Historic Sites, Arcadia Publishing (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Coeditor of the series "Prairie State Books," University of Illinois Press, 1987—. Contributor to books, including Exploring the Midwestern Literary Imagination:Essays in Honor of David D. Anderson, edited by Marcia Noe, Whitston (Troy, NY), 1993. Author of Prairie State Journal: Inventing Illinois, a weekly program broadcast by public radio stations in Illinois, 1992-93. Author of "Our Regional Heritage," a weekly column, Macomb Journal, 1981-84, "Visions and Values," a weekly self-syndicated column, 1984-85, and "Passages," a weekly column, Jacksonville Journal Courier, 1987-88. Contributor of about ninety articles and reviews to periodicals, including Prairie Journal, Old Northwest, Great Lakes Review, Journal of Mormon History, Illinois Magazine, Illinois Issues, MidAmerica, and Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Western Illinois Regional Studies, cofounder, 1978, coeditor, 1978-92, editorial chair, 1980-92; founding editor, Essays in Literature, 1973-79, and Western Illinois Reader, 1987-89; editor, McDonough County Historical Society Newsletter, 1981-90.

Author of introduction for Life in a Prairie Land, by Eliza W. Farnham, The Illinois, by James Gray, and The Drums of the 47th, by Robert J. Burdette, all published by the University of Illinois Press.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Dime Novel Desperadoes, an account of Ed and Lon Maxwell (alias Williams), Midwestern outlaws of wide notoriety between 1874 and 1881.

SIDELIGHTS: John E. Hallwas is professor of American literature at Western Illinois University and a noted regional historian who has written numerous books on the history of western Illinois and the surrounding Midwest.

Hallwas brings his scholarship of Edgar Lee Masters and Western Illinois history to bear on a new edition of the classic Spoon River Anthology. John Hollander praised Hallwas's edition, noting, "It provides a wealth of information that frames specific historical, biographical, and autobiographical background for names, persons, places, and situations alluded to and invoked by the epitaphs in Anthology. Hallwas brings to bear on the text and its history a detailed overview of previous scholarship, and a knowledge of Illinois history in particular, that will be invaluable for anyone not only writing on Masters, but working in American studies generally. He is also authoritatively knowledgeable about the critical reception of the book and its history."

Edited by Hallwas and Roger D. Launius, the 1998 book Kingdom on the Mississippi Revisited: Nauvoo in Mormon History comprises a collection of fourteen articles on the history of the Mormon Church. This period of Mormon Church history is referred to as the Nauvoo era. The articles, written by Mormons and non-Mormons alike, give different perspectives of the Mormon experience in the Midwest. Mississippi Revisited, wrote Steven Epperson in the Journal of American Ethnic History, "aims to provide a rough overview of the main events, personalities, institutions, and issues during the turbulent 'Mormon' era of Nauvoo, Illinois, from 1839 to 1846, when concerted Mormon settlement transformed a malaria-plagued, riverfront village into a metropolis rivaling Chicago in size and intrigue."

In The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, Hallwas examines the Midwest of Bonnie and Clyde. Nominated for both the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize, The Bootlegger uses that life story of Kelly Wagle, a bootlegger in Prohibition Colchester, Illinois, to tell the story of the town.

Wagle was seen by most of the town as a sort of Robin Hood figure, and when he was gunned down in front of his house, 1,000 out of the 1,300 citizens of Colchester turned out at his funeral. Most critics wrote, however, that the real protagonist of the book is the failed coal mining town of Colchester itself. A Publishers Weekly writer noted, "A coal-mining community in the nineteenth century, Colchester became so imbued by death that inhabitants began to see a mysterious 'Woman in Black,' an embodiment of the town's deepest anxieties."

Throughout the book, Hallwas examines how modernization and industrialization contributed to the disintegration of community in Colchester and other Illinois communities. Dale F. Farris concluded in Library Journal, "This deeply interrelated history reveals a rich understanding of rural, Midwestern America in the early twentieth century, the impact of coal mining on a town's economy, the widespread ambivalence toward 1920s Prohibition, and the fascination with the gangster lifestyle of a small-town hood."

Keokuk and the Great Dam, published in 2002, is the story of the first dam built across the Mississippi River in Keokuk, Iowa. Completed between 1910 and 1913, the dam was the first hydroelectric project on the Mississippi river and the world's second largest dam at the time. Hallwas uses extensive archival material to show the entrepreneurial spirit of the town to get the project started and the enormity of the construction effort.

Hallwas once told CA: "Most of my writing relates to and interprets the cultural heritage of western Illinois, where I have spent all of my adult life. Although I was raised more than two hundred miles away, in northern Illinois, I have lived here for more than thirty years, and I know more about the landscape, towns, people, and history of western Illinois than I will ever know about any other place. This is my home territory, a corn-and-soybean empire of expanding farms and declining villages, small cities and unsophisticated people, and I am deeply engaged with it.

"Life is enriched if people live in a place where they can feel a part of a meaningful cultural tradition. As a historian, editor, essayist, and literary scholar, I have tried to promote that kind of consciousness—often called a sense of place—and to reflect the culture of my region clearly enough so that readers anywhere might find it compelling.

"In recent years I have been especially interested in community history, with its dramatic interplay of will and circumstance, its portrayal of cultural construction, and its reflection of American myth in local experience. In a nation devoted to self-realization, and now obsessed with individualism and divided into factions, we need to understand our cultural environment far better than we do, and to value the common experience far more than we do. We need to build community. If writing promotes that, it will have cultural significance, whether or not it reaches a national audience.

"Although I do not write poetry, three poets from my region have had a significant influence on my work. Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Lee Masters, and Carl Sandburg were deeply rooted in this part of the country, and they too were engaged with the culture of Illinois and the Midwest and concerned with the renewal of meaning and community in America. Their works were often profoundly influenced by American myth (as I point out with respect to Masters, for example, in my annotated edition of Spoon River Anthology, and my historical books, such as Cultures in Conflict and The Bootlegger, display a considerable awareness of American myth as I examine and portray the roots of social conflict and the significance of cultural change.

"I often teach courses at Western Illinois University that relate closely to my work as a writer—courses such as American Myth, Illinois Literature, and Nonfictional Creative Writing. At Spoon River College, also located in my hometown, I frequently teach courses in Illinois history. Over the years I have also lectured on historical and literary topics in more than one hundred Illinois communities, and I teach workshops in writing nonfiction."



Bloomsbury Review, March, 1999, review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, p. 16.

Booklist, September 15, 1998, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, p. 176.

Choice, June, 1994, J. J. Patton, review of Spoon River Anthology: An Annotated Edition, p. 1580; March 1996, review of Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, p. 1202; January, 1999, review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, p. 953;

Church History, September, 1997, Clyde R. Forsberg, review of Kingdom on the Mississippi: Nauvoo in Mormon History, p. 624.

Journal of American Ethnic History, spring, 1999, Steven Epperson, review of Kingdom on the Mississippi: Nauvoo in Mormon History, p. 167.

Journal of Religious History, June, 1998, Jennifer Clark, review of Kingdom on the Mississippi: Nauvoo in Mormon History, p. 241.

Journal of the Early Republic, winter, 1998, Richard D. Shiels, review of Kingdom on the Mississippi: Nauvoo in Mormon History, p. 743.

Library Journal, August, 1998, Dale F. Farris, review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, p. 109.

New Republic, July 27, 1992, John Hollander, review of Spoon River Anthology: An Annotated Edition, p. 47.

Parnassus: Poetry in Review, fall, 1993, Turner Cassity, review of Spoon River Anthology: An Annotated Edition, and Chicago Poems, p. 38.

Publishers Weekly, July 20, 1998, review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America, p. 196.

Utopian Studies, spring, 1999, Louis J. Kern, review of Kingdom on the Mississippi: Nauvoo in Mormon History, p. 275.

Western Historical Quarterly, spring, 1997, Thomas G. Alexander, review of Kingdom on the Mississippi: Nauvoo in Mormon History, p. 83.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/ (May, 1999), review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America.

University of Illinois Press,http://www.press.uillinois.edu/ (May 4, 2002), review of The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America.*