Journalist and Author of Outcasts United to Speak at President’s Convocation
Warren St. John
Aug. 21, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— On Wednesday, Sept. 4, Warren St. John, the author of the bestselling
book “Outcasts United: an American Town, A Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make
a Difference” will be the guest speaker at Illinois Wesleyan University’s President’s Convocation.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 11 a.m. in Westbrook
Auditorium of Presser Hall (1210 N. Park St., Bloomington). IWU President Richard
F. Wilson and Student Senate President Brexton Isaacs will welcome the campus community
to the start of the 2013-14 academic year. President Wilson and Provost Jonathan Green
will conduct the investiture of Beling Professor of Natural Sciences Ram Mohan as
the Hess Professor of Chemistry.
Prior to the Convocation, there will be a Q&A session with St. John at 9 a.m. in Beckman
Auditorium in the lower level of The Ames Library (1 Ames Plaza, Bloomington). Following
the Convocation, St. John will sign copies of his books at 1:15 p.m. in the Young
Main Lounge of the Memorial Center (104 E. University Ave., Bloomington).
“Outcasts United,” which was published in the United States in 2009 and subsequently in the United Kingdom,
the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Japan, and China, was selected for the 2013 Illinois
Wesleyan Summer Reading Program and discussed by new students, faculty and staff during Turning Titan Orientation
The story takes place in Clarkston, Ga., a small hamlet situated approximately 10
miles from downtown Atlanta. In the 1980s and 1990s, agencies for the resettlement
of refugees chose the town as a home for new arrivals. It was hoped that the town’s
proximity to downtown Atlanta would help the refugees find employment. The earliest
refugees were from Southeast Asia. Then refugees arrived from the conflicts in the
Balkans and later from Africa and the Middle East, radically changing the cultural
landscape of the small southern town.
According to St. John, the story of Clarkston interested him because this kind of
change, catalyzed by the movement and displacement of people, is happening all over
the United States and Europe.
His debut book “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania,” a book about collegiate football fans, was named one of Sports Illustrated’s best
books of the year, and ranked number one on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list
of the best books ever written about collegiate athletics. In his quest to find answers
to the question, “Why do fans care?,” St. John joined a caravan of RVers in their
migration across the south as they followed the Alabama Crimson Tide, University of
Alabama's football team.
In reference to his two books, St. John said, “I think what the books have in common
is that they’re both essentially about sociology, not sports. They’re about how people
get along, how they organize themselves socially, how they – we – search for meaning
in our lives and a sense of safety amid the unpredictability of the world.”
In addition to his two bestselling books, St. John has written for the New York Observer, The New Yorker, Wired and Slate, and has reported for The New York Times. He was born in Birmingham, Ala., where he attended The Altamont School. He studied
English literature at the Columbia College in New York City where he now lives with
his wife and daughter.
For additional information, contact Sherry Wallace, director for News and Media Relations
at (309) 556-3181 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Sherry Wallace (309) 556-3181