Prison Pedagogies

Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers

In a time of increasing mass incarceration, US prisons and jails are becoming a major source of literary production. Prisoners write for themselves, fellow prisoners, family members, and teachers. However, too few write for college credit. In the dearth of well-organized higher education in US prisons, noncredit programs established by colleges and universities have served as a leading means of informal learning in these settings. Thousands of teachers have entered prisons, many teaching writing or relying on writing practices when teaching other subjects. Yet these teachers have few pedagogical resources. This groundbreaking collection of essays provides such a resource and establishes a framework upon which to develop prison writing programs.

"Prison Pedagogies" does not champion any one prescriptive approach to writing education but instead recognizes a wide range of possibilities. Essay subjects include working-class consciousness and prison education; community and literature writing at different security levels in prisons; organized writing classes in jails and juvenile halls; cultural resistance through writing education; prison newspapers and writing archives as pedagogical resources; dialogical approaches to teaching prison writing classes; and more. The contributors within this volume share a belief that writing represents a form of intellectual and expressive self-development in prison, one whose pursuit has transformative potential.


Joe Lockard is associate professor of English at Arizona State University.

Sherry Rankins-Robertson, who received her PhD in English from ASU in 2011, is associate professor of rhetoric and writing at University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

Praise for this book

Offers a much-needed resource for educators interested in teaching writing and literature in prisons, jails, and detention centers. Rather than relying solely on personal accounts of prison teaching, the authors in this compelling collection emphasize pedagogical practices that can be useful to other educators working in similar spaces.

Patrick W. Berry, author "Doing Time, Writing Lives: Refiguring Literacy and Higher Education in Prison"
Prison Pedagogies, edited by Joe Lockard and Sherry Rankins-Robertson
Date published
Syracuse University Press

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