Dr. Hallwas has been a popular speaker in Illinois and the Midwest for over forty years. He speaks on a variety of topics, mostly related to his many books, at colleges and universities, historical meetings, libraries, and other venues. Among his most popular talks for general audiences:


“Bootleggers, Flappers, and Klansmen: Cultural Change in the Roaring Twenties” 

(a talk on change and conflict relating to Prohibition, women’s roles, moral codes, and other matters that made the 1920s such a fascinating time)


“Cemeteries and Gravesites: American Historical and Literary Perspectives”

(on the changing view of cemeteries, especially in the 19th century, and on changing attitudes toward death, as illustrated in poems by noted American authors)


“Desperadoes: Notorious Outlaws of Early Illinois”

(a Powerpoint or slide Presentation, showing early outlaws, hideouts, jails, wanted posters, Etc.)


“Facing It: Illinois Poets on the Mystery of Death and the Meaning of Life”

(a program of short readings from, and comments on, poems by such notable Illinois figures as John Hay, Edgar Lee Masters, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Dave Etter—who represent various Illinois eras and perspectives)   


"Small-Town Heritage: Life in Illinois Communities, 1870-1920”

(a Powerpoint or slide presentation focused on town growth, community life, the impact of railroads, the coming of cars, etc.)


“Small-Town Life in Illinois Poetry”

(a look at, and a commentary on, the fascinating world of small-town Illinois, as reflected in insightful and entertaining poems by such authors as John Hay, Edgar Lee Masters, Vachel Lindsay, and Dave Etter)


“Spirituality and Community”

(a talk on the importance of community and belonging for the spiritual flowering of individuals; a critique of excessive self-concern)


“Work as a Struggle and a Meaningful Experience in the Poetry of Carl Sandburg”

(a commentary on the issue of work in American life, illustrated with readings from poems by Sandburg, who had a huge interest in the struggle of workers)


"Illinois Memoirs: Our Story, Your Opportunity" 

This lecture  offers comments on the great tradition of Illinois memoirs, from Chief Black Hawk's autobiography (1833), the first bestseller from the Midwest, and accounts by settlers on the frontier as well, to more recent achievements by Illinoisans recalling their experiences. And it also challenges local audiences to do their own memoir writing, both as individuals and as groups in a given place who might do a collection of short memoirs. Hallwas is the state's most experienced commentator on, and editor of, memoir writings, and can also answer questions related to the memoir writing process. Fees commonly run to a few hundred dollars.


Dr. Hallwas also speaks on the writing of nonfiction in general and, of course, on the writing of specific books that he has produced, such as The Bootlegger, Cultures in Conflict, Dime Novel Desperadoes, and Here to Stay.


Dr. Hallwas also teaches a workshop on autobiographical writing. “From Memories to Memoirs: Writing Personal Nonfiction” has been offered at locations in several states. The workshop generally involves more than one class session but can be provided in a single day.

Commentaries on Hallwas and His Writings

"Publications by John Hallwas," McDonough County Historical Society Newsletter, Fall 2019, pp. 7-13.


"Two Writers Who Have Strengthened Our Community," Heritage Days 2021 insert, McDonough County Voice, June 18, 2021, pp. 13-15. (He is discussed, along with journalist W. H. Hainline.)