New Voices: 'The Common Reader' adds two new staff writers

The Common Reader offers a wide and engaging variety of reviews, articles, and creative non-fiction. The WashU publication applies a critical lens to essential issues and interests of the current moment—this function makes the introduction of two new voices to the staff especially exciting.

John Griswold and Michaella A. Thornton have been added to The Common Reader’s team as staff writers, a choice that managing editor Ben Fulton describes as exemplifying “The journal’s commitment to cultivating dynamic writing voices, publishing more content on a more consistent basis, as well as fortifying WashU’s reputation as an international thought leader.”

John Griswold
John Griswold

Fulton added, “The addition of Griswold and Thornton to the journal staff marks an important development in our commitment to engage the scientific and artistic ideas, social issues and current controversies of our time.”

The two new additions demonstrate diverse and significant accomplishment. Griswold’s most recent book is a collection of essays, Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life (2014, University of Georgia Press) and his forthcoming book, which explores veterans at Standing Rock, will be published in 2019. Additionally, he is the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press. After a career spanning twenty years teaching at three different universities, Griswold is delighted to join WashU and The Common Reader, referencing a line of editor Gerald Early’s in saying that, “people writing for The Common Reader being like skilled musicians coming together for a set, in which the band becomes more than the sum of its parts.”

Furthermore, Griswold states, “My main hope, as with any writing gig, is that process leads me to my own complex understandings of material, and I find the right words to convey them.”

Michaella A. Thornton

Thornton demonstrates similar range, with her writing appearing in Creative NonfictionNew South, The Southeast Review, The New Territory Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and a University of Missouri Press anthology, Words Matter: Writing to Make a Difference (2016). In March 2018 she shared her “true, personal story” live for the St. Louis Public Radio, which will be broadcast via the national podcast The Story Collider on Friday, November 23rd. Additionally, she adds that various jobs she’s held before joining The Common Reader staff include assistant professor of English at a local community college, assistant director for instructional design, writing center supervisor, baker, freelance writer and editor, and sixth grade teacher.

“I am excited for what contemporary creative nonfiction and essay writing have done to amplify diverse and significant stories. More women, people of color, GLBTIA+, and people of differing abilities are finding broader, more attentive audiences with their writing, and that is critical,” said Thornton. “Representation matters, and I think creative nonfiction as a genre recognizes and values the importance of publishing many perspectives.”

Dr. Gerald Early, editor of The Common Reader and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, noted that the hires would allow the publication to offer an even richer and more varied palette of prose on a consistent basis. “The hires deepen the professionalization of the journal and offers the reading public personalities exclusively connected to it,” wrote Early. “New voices will offer new and fresh perspectives, different approaches and views.”

The expansion of The Common Reader’s team, then, is not merely an expansion of team numbers, but an expansion of perspective, representation, and purpose. Thornton speaks to this mission well saying, “I think it is so important as a writer and journalist to ensure I am not putting the spotlight on the same old, same old. I want to introduce readers to issues, stories, and people you may not yet know.”

WashU and readers of The Common Reader are eager to hear of these issues, stories and people we do not yet know, and Griswold and Thornton are certainly ready to introduce us.