Department of English
Research – Through my teaching, my research and my advocacy I am working to bring public audiences to prisoners' writing and to help prisoners' voices to be heard. I see prison writing as a site for intervention in the growing U.S. prison system, now the largest in the world. Although the U.S. only accounts for about 5 percent of the world's population it houses 25 percent of its prisoners. As our rates of incarceration have increased in recent decades (700% since 1970) we have become less willing to listen to the voices of the incarcerated. The defunding of higher education programs as well as art and writing programs have made the walls separating prisoners from outsiders grow taller, and have made it harder for the public to understand the experiences and circumstances of those entering and living within the prison system. We are largely dependent on media and criminal justice "experts" to shape our understandings of crime and incarceration. My work focuses on sites of intervention and rupture within this closed system of communication, as I study organizations, researchers, activists, and individual writers and artists who find ways to reach over and through concrete walls and razor wire that separate public from prison. In my research, I seek to define methodologies for representing, incorporating and collaborating with incarcerated artists and writers. My current book project, Incarcerating Rhetorics, Publics and Pedagogies, analyzes the production and circulation of art and writing by prisoners, and places carceral art and writing within historical, institutional and cultural contexts in order to demonstrate how it shapes and is shaped by these intersecting forces. In addition to analyzing prisoner writing I also provide strategies for supporting its production, and for building partnerships between universities and prison writers.