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Anne's Reading Notes for "Unsettling Literacies," Spring 2017

Anne Dalke's picture

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010):
One way of understanding our current system of mass incaraceration is to think of it as a birdcage with a locked door. It is a set of structural arrangements that locks a racially distinct group into a subordinate political, social, and economic position, effectivley creating a second-class citizenship...the system itself is structured to lock them into a subordinate position (185).
The genius of the current caste that it appears voluntary. People choose to commit crimes, and that's why they are locked up or locked out...this feature makes the politics of responsibility particularly tempting, as it appears the system can be avoided with good behavior. But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are siners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives...Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses (215).
King recognized that it was this indifference ot the plight of other races that supported the institutions of slavery and Jim Crow. In his words, "One of the great tragedies of man's long trek along the highway of history has been the limiting of neighborly concern to tribe, race, class or nation." The consequences of this narrow, insular attitude "is that one does not really mind what happens to the people outside his group." Racial indifference and blindness--far more than racial hostility --form the sturdy foundation for all racial caste systems (242).
A commitment to color consciousness...places faith in our capacity as humans to show care and concern for others, even as we are fully cognizant of race and possible racial diffrences (243).

Barad, Karen, “Reconceiving Scientific Literacy as Agential Literacy, or Learning How to
Intra-act Responsibly Within the World,” in Doing Culture + Science, ed. Roddey Reid
and Sharon Traweek (Routledge, 2000)
[available on-line @ Canaday]
starts w/ the truck driver placing iron bars behind his head
* rejects context- /relevancy-coated approaches
(that disregard rigor) for “agential literacy”
* history of focus on social responsibility of teaching/learning science
* Bohr’s epistemological framework: object inseparable from
apparatus of observation (= not determined OR free)
* agential realism: apparatuses not passive observing instruments,
but productive/part of phenomena; agency is an enactment
* reconceive scientific literacy as matter of intra-acting responsibly w/in the world
*teaching agential literacy: course on “situated knowledges” that doesn’t play off
science/culture dualism, but seeks to understand relation between material and
discursive constraints/conditions; practice- and philosophy-based physics
* conclusion: all—not just scientists--must share responsibility for teaching agential literacy

Barrett, Lindon. “African-American Slave Narratives: Literacy, the Body, Authority,” American Literary History (1995):
as much as literacy represents a privileged state of mind, it also connotes the material body and, ultimately, the alleged overwhelming corporeality of blackness.
literacy remains central to the academic criticism of slave narratives; no single issue holds the preeminence granted literacy.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in the essay "Literary Theory and the Black Tradition," his most extended consideration of literacy, writes, "sheer literacy was the very commodity that separated animal from human being, slave from citizen, object from subject" in the cultural imagination of the West.
Nonetheless, this empowerment and transformation is ambiguous, as [Swat president] Valerie Smith recognizes. Smith warns that to privilege heedlessly the notion of literacy is to "pay homage to the structures of discourse that so often contributed to the writer's oppression.”  In Smith's mind, to reproduce without qualification the priority of literacy is to reproduce ideological frameworks intended to dehumanize slave communities, since this privileging "suggests that, without letters, slaves fail to understand the full meaning of their domination.” It suggests that, without letters, slaves somehow fail to understand or participate appreciably in the life of the mind it may prove equally rewarding to investigate literacy as an unattained condition, as a prohibited condition.
African Americans who are forced to live illiterate lives, who are forcibly identified with the limited sphere of the body, are in as manifest a fashion as possible seemingly restricted to being the objects of thought and never its subjects.
Literacy provides manifest testimony of the mind's ability to extend itself beyond the constricted limits and conditions of the body.
To restrict African Americans to lives without literacy is seemingly to immure them in bodily existences having little or nothing to do with the life of the mind and its representation. Conversely, to enter into literacy is to gain important skills for extending oneself beyond the condition and geography of the body.
"literacy, especially the ability to write, signified an establishment of the African's human identity to the European world"
complicated history: churches taught reading, as did some slaveholders (though others amputated); legal sanctions restricting slave literacy were not as widespread as generally believed (even by slaves themselves)
In giving account of slavery and "themselves," the paramount task [of slave narratives] is to reproduce the experiences and trials of a "body"—their bodies—in a medium necessarily antithetical to that project. Written language is an abstract medium recalcitrant to mimicking or reproducing bodily experience; what literacy affords those who acquire it is precisely the ability to some extent to do away with the body (in deference to the mind and abstraction). Yet to accomplish their project as ex-slave narrators, these writers must assuredly make their bodies appear for their readers, since to be an African American or slave is to be foremost a body.
The bodies they would reproduce in language are paradoxically the very marks of a remove from language and the life of the mind. Their bodies are concomitantly the focus of their new literacy and agency yet emblems of an apparent disqualification from literacy and self- or social agency when representing African-American bodies, these writers must contradict what is being culturally represented. The acts of representation must gainsay what is being represented
just as does attention to or respect for literacy, attention to the body remains a preeminent point of focus in slave narratives. The body is concomitantly a term of presence and absence—as also are issues of literacy.
The African-American body marks a social presence but an absence of mind.
Narrative representations of the tortured or injured body are virtually ubiquitous in the texts of ex-slave narrative; the ultimate figure in this mode of representation is the adult female slave
his rendition of [his aunt’s] physical torture reinstates the violence by which Hester is denied the possibility of extending into the world the self, the voice, the language, the mind her body houses. Douglass merely reproduces, for highly dramatic and rhetorical effect, the hostile "embodying" of Hester, rather than discursively challenging it
the texts of male narrators re-inscribe (in terms of gender) the dynamics these narrators would challenge (in terms of race): African-American women remain peculiarly voided of language, and their bodies are circulated in symbolic and textual systems meant precisely to challenge such "corporealization" on the behalf of all African Americans.
Douglass is careful to interrupt his narrative again and again in order to alert his reader to the emotional and intellectual presence shaping the tale of his formerly brutalized self. He is careful to overshadow the rendition of himself as brutalized chattel with the rendition of himself as the shaping agent and intellect of the text.  
two highly rhetorical passages that disrupt the recollected narrative: the tear, the cracked foot; the reader is instructed that the former condition of his body is now self-consciously gauged by marks of sensibility and instruments of intellect.
The narrative begins with his enumeration of all the information withheld from slaves by slaveholders; it concludes, in a highly dramatic and rhetorical reversal, with Douglass as master and withholder of important information (details of escape)

Birkets, Sven. “Reading in a Digital Age.” The American Scholar (Spring 2010):

Boler, Megan on Emotional Literacy--
Chapter 7: “The Risks of Empathy: Interrogating Multiculturalism’s Gaze.” Feeling Power: Emotions and Education. Routledge, 1999
(from Jody's Multicultural Education class):
Who and what, I wonder, benefits from the production of empathy?...In what ways does empathy risk decontextualizing particular moral problems?...I am not convinced that empathy leads…to any shift in existing power relations…through modes of easy identification and flattened historical sensibility….”poetic justice” may simply translate to reading practices that do not radically challenge the readers’ world view….those “others” whose lives we imagine don’t want empathy; they want justice….encourage “testimonial reading”…an empathetic response that motivates action….in sympathy and empathy, the identification between self and other also contains an irreducible difference—a recognition that I am not you, and that empathy is possible only b virtue of this distinction….not a sufficient educational practice. At stake is …the ability…to recognize oneself as implicated in the social forces that create the climate of obstacles the other must confront….

The agent of empathy is fear for oneself. This signals the first risk…more a story and projection of myself than an understanding of you…to judge what “others need in order to flourish” is an exceptionally complicated proposition….Empathetic identification requires the other’s difference in order to consume it as sameness…social a binary power relationships of self/other that threatens to ….annihilate the very differences that permit empathy…

testimonial reading recognizes the…similarly exposed vulnerability. Rather than seeing reading as isolated acts of individual response to distant others, testimonial reading emphasizes a collective educational responsibility….what calls for recognition is not… the possibility of my misfortune, but a recognition of power relationships…The challenge to undertake “our own work” accepts a responsibility founded on the discrepancy of our experiences….active reading practice...involves challenging my assumptions and world views….[Felman ventures,] “if teaching does not…encounter either the vulnerability of the explosiveness of a …critical and unpredictable dimension, it has perhaps not truly taught”…I must learn to question the genealogy of any particular emotional response….As…alternatives to privatized and naturalized models of emotion, I offer two concepts of the analysis of emotion and power relations: “”economics of mind,” which refers to emotion and affect as models of currency in social relations; and as an alternative to theories of depth unconscious, I suggest we consider emotions as “inscribed habits of inattention.”

Branch, Kirk. Eyes on the Ought to Be: What We Teach About When We Teach About Literacy (New York: Hampton Pres, 2007):
dual emphasis to our work that...often is--contradictory: By working to serve individual students, do we suggest the corectness and justness of hte institutions and systems that they find themselves in and that we support with our own work? Conversely, by working to address the manifest injustices in such a system, do we neglect the individaul lives presently caught within it? (7)
Chapter Outline:
all educational practice, simply because it has in mind a future for students, projects a vision of the world as it ought to be (8).
My goal is especailly to advocated an attitude toward teaching and scholarship that requires a trickster consciousness, an always grounded approach to pedagogy that resits officila discourses seeking to universalize necessarily local and variable contexts (11).
Teachers often literally embody goals they do not support and figuring out how to teach in such circumstances matters as much as anything else we might hope to do as teachers (13).
I am interested there in figuring out how to teach within institutions and systems that have goals we cannot wholly accept...My call in the conclusion, that teachers should assume a ttrickster consciousness, not to bring any system to its knees, but to pester, annoy, and creatively resist its simplifying impulses....complies with the systems it resists, and in that tension between resistance and ocmplicity, lies a central and idfficult aspect of most educational work (14).
Chapter 1: Educational Literacy Practices and the World in Which We Need to Live
I want teachers to recognize that the work they do is in service of a social project,  future world with moral implications (21).
Most of us who teach, I argue, have some kind of cannon in our classrooms, some kind of continous reminder that the institution employs us to achieve its own goals (22).
I am skeptical of official rhetorics of education (24).
What literacy is becomes in part a function of how education works in these settings, and how educaiton works is always in part a rhetorical construction (27).
As a term, literacy easily invokes a story: It narrates personal, social, and cultural development. Like requited love in a romance novel, literacy signals movement into social and personal fulfillment..."the literacy myth" assoiciated with the triumph of light over darkness, ofl iberalism, democracy, and of universal unbridled progress (29).
transformation lies at the heart of most definitions of literacy (30).
Walter Ong's Orality and Literature (31)!!
history of composition and English studies highlights ways in which conflicts and anxieites about literacy practices have been central to disciplinary formation (35f).
always a conflict within educational discussions of literacy practices (37)
permanent obstacles in the way of achieving an activist ideal of citizen-teacher, as well as trying to figure out a way to work toward that ideal anyway (42).
"reading omnipotence": "a clinical condition which renders texts which disturb one's own interpretation unread, even when they are" (46).
Basil Bernstein: Instructional and Regulative Discourse (48f)
Chapter 2: Make Them Wise to Salvation: Literacy and Literacy Practices in Correctional Education
Chapter 5: Conclusion: Teaching with the Cannon
Bourdieu and Passeron: all involved misrecognize schooling as legitimate and progressive when its primary function is to reproduce social power relations; all pedagogical action is "the imposition of a cultural arbitrary by an arbitary power," and thus an act of "symbolic violence" (184).
Richard Miller...argues that Frier's central claim--that the authentic work of teachers is to liberate students...."is so attarctive because it covers over our more primary role as functionaries of the adminstration's educational arm....a general commitment in our profession to imgine that the power dynamic in the teacher-student realtionships erased" of the appeals of Freire is the degree to which he supports the act of misrecognition, so that teachers see themselves as opposing the systems in which they teach, rather than being...."little prophets in the pay of the State"..our inherent complicity (186)....borrowing from Friere allows teachers to separate themselves from the sytsem that they support simply by putting students in rank order, by grades, at the conclusion of the class (187).
Trickster Makes the Classroom (188f)
reasoned action within morally ambiguous situations (190)

given the discursive gaps between the field of production and the field of reproduction, the knowledge reproduced will necessarily be different from the knowledge produced, which means, in turn, that a sippery and variable concept (193).
contingencies, accidents, messiness (194)
attempts to control the thinkable...where what might become thinkable is indeterminate, under threat. It's the inherent indeterminacy of those boundaries that I want to foreground here as the gaps within which scholars and teachers can operate...we are other than wholly create...a pore, an opportunity to act within the seeming aporia of that project...enact a sort of trickster consciousness...resists accepting official claims of transparency....allows for movement within the constraints of the system (198)

Burwell, Catherine, “A Too-Quick Enthusiasm for the Other”: North American Women’s Book Clubs and the Politics of Reading," in Muslim Women, Transnational Feminism and the Ethics of Pedagogy: Contested Imaginaries in Post-9/11 Cultural Practice, edited by Lisa K. Taylor and Jasmin Zine (Routledge, 2014):
significant questions about the "politics of reading" when women select, discuss, and think about books in social contexts--esp. probing North Aermcan book clubs' consumption of texts by and about women living in the Third World: narratives and images construct for book club readers an Oreintalist and Eurocentric framework; reception theory bypases the pitfalls of an overly idealized focus on voice nad authenticity, in order to  reveal the colonizing gaze of the First World--as the renewed force of imperialism converges with an unprecedented commodificaiton of culture.
Reading as a Social Pursuit-->imperative to historicize readers in their discursive environments, allows us to see that the consumption of Third World women's texts must be placed within a larger history of Eurocentrism, imperialism, militarizaiton and market forces.

Dalke, Anne. “Reading Culture: A Nudge in the Direction of Doubt”:
[on importance of context? and/but unimportance of disciplinary focus?]

Cohen, Dalke, Ross, Eco-Literacy:
Being ecologically literate includes an appreciation of earth systems, and of human impact on the environment.
Our focus here will be on how such knowledge interacts with our values -- such as our love of nature, our
yearning for social justice, our need for personal fulfillment -- enabling us both to cope with and be agents  for change.

Davis, Angela. Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003. 115 pp.
Why were people so quick to assume that locking away an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population would help those who lives in the free world feel safer and more secure?....Why do prisons tend to make people think that their own rights and liberties are more secure than they would be if prisons did not exist? (14)

Over the last few years the previous absence of critical positions on prison expansion in the political arena has given way to proposals for prison reform….the emphasis is almost inevitably on generating the changes that will produce a better prison system….The most immediate question today is how to prevent the further expansion of prison populations and how to bring as many imprisoned women and men as possible back into what prisoners call “the free world.” How can we move to decriminalize drug use and the trade in sexual services? How can we take seriously strategies of restorative rather than exclusively punitive justice? Effective alternatives involve both transformation of the techniques for addressing “crime” and of the social and economic conditions that track so many children from poor communities, and especially communities of color, into the juvenile system and then on to prison…creatively exploring new terrains of justice, where the prison no longer serves as our major anchor (20-21).

Is racism so deeply entrenched in the institution of the prison that it is not possible to eliminate one without eliminating the other? (26)

In many ways, the penitentiary was a vast improvement over the many forms of capital and corporal punishment inherited form the English. However, the contention that prisoners would refashion themselves if only given the opportunity to reflect and labor in solitude and silence disregarded the impact of authoritarian regimes of living and work (27).

The racialization of crime—the tendency to “impute crime to color,” to use Frederick Douglass’s words—did not wither away (30).

It is extremely unsettling to think of modern, industrialized urban areas as having been originally produced under the racist labor conditions of penal servitude (35).

…reformers set out to end…forms of corporal punishment….designed to have its most profound effect…on the crowd of spectators (41).

…convicts punished by imprisonment in emergent penitentiary systems were primarily male. This reflected the deeply gender-biased structure of legal, political, and economic rights. Since women were largely denied public status as rights-bearing individuals, they could not be easily punished by the deprivation of such rights through imprisonment (45).

In the 1950s, Malcom’s prison education was a dramatic example of prisoners’ ability to turn their incarceration into a transformative experience…By the time he could immerse himself in reading, he noted, “months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life” (56).

…late twentieth-century “reforms” have relied on a “separate but equal” model…often applied uncritically, ironically result[ing] in demands for more repressive conditions in order to make women’s facilities “equal” to men’s (74).

…the institution of the prison has stockpiled ideas and practices that are hopefully approaching obsolescence in the larger society, but that retain all their ghastly vitality behind prison walls (83).

…punishment has to be conceptually severed from its seemingly indissoluble link with crime….the perpetual repetition of the phrase “crime and punishment”…located the prison in a causal relation to crime as a natural, necessary, and permanent effect…The notion of a prison industrial complex insists on understandings of the punishment process that take into account economic and political structures and ideologies, rather than focusing myopically on individual criminal conduct and efforts to “curb crime”  (85).

[when research dermatologist Albert Kligman entered  Holmesburg Prison] he was awed by the potential it held for his research…he recalled in a newspaper interview: “All I saw before me were acres of skin. It was like a farmer seeing a fertile field for the first time” (89-90).

“…the only full alternative is building the kind of society that does not need prison: A decent redistribution of power and income so as to put out…crimes of property….And a decent sense of community that can support, reintegrate and truly rehabilitate those who suddenly become filled with fury or despair, and that can face them…as people who have committed illegal acts, as have almost all of us” (105).

[Davis ends w/ the v. moving story of the parents of Amy Biehl, who was murdered in South Africa; they came to “have a lot of love” for the men who killed their daughter….“sometimes it pays to shut up and listen to what other people have to say, to ask, ‘Why do these terrible thigs happen?’ instead of simply reacting” (115)]

Fine, Michelle. "Echoes of Bedford: A 20-Year Social Psychology Memoir on Participatory Action Research Hatched Behind Bars." American Psychologist (November 2013): 687-698. DOI: 10.1037/a0034359
challenges widening epistemological gap between those suffering from inequality and those conducting social policy research on inequality; reflecting on deep critical participation by a collaborative team of university and prisoner researchers, with call to
widen the social imagination for policies that can challenge inequality... a historically imperative vision of public science...

Fraden, Rena. Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
I could either be a metaphorical part of that incarcerated womanhood and thus find a place within it (we're all potential Medeas, we're all incarcerated women, imprisoned in various pyshcological bondages--to love, to children, to human experience) or be written out altogeher....I took time to figure out how to write in my own voice about the voices of others. There is a delicate balance between critical distance and passionate advocacy, as there is between writing of and about without wanting to write for or instead of someone else (xviii).
Introduction, 1-26.
it was a real challenge to have a conversation about race in was like opening up Pandora's box--all sorts of evil things began to creep out...she started the workshop by asking the women two questions: what was their first memory of race; and if they could take a pill and change their race, their gender, their entire being, what would they choose to become (6).
That the incarcerated women's experiences have to be acknowledged, understood, related, and heard is a key principle of this feminist theatrical project. That everyone has a story to a constant refrain. However, though the Medea Project begins with honoring experience, it would be limited if that were all it did. Instead, Jones finds theatrical ways to interrogate the personal, surrounding the contemporary with the mythical, that each individual's story is...always seen in relation to others....autobiography alone neither guarantees new insights nor changes behavior. As Joan Scott has argued, experience is not transparent but is "at once always already an interpretation and something that needs to be interpreted" (21).
experience must be given its due, acknowledged as valid....But experience must not think of itself as true, authentic, and therefore impervious to questions and critique, because without critique and dialogue, there cannot be exchange and mutual learning. Identity...coheres...."in a the realm of a context-dependent creativity" (37).
"What is it that makes us leave our children?" (44)
Chapter 2: “To Be Real: Rehearsing Techniques,” 67-119.
Medea could see only one side of her story. The pedagogical thrust of the Medea Project is aimed at uncovering the connections between an individual and the system of power. Jones and Reynolds believe that critical literacy--understanding social context, moving with others and not alone--will transform the oppressed and pathetic into people who believe they can think and thus act for themselves and also for others....The Medea Project wants to revive community....The best work is harrowing, but its most important effects are always delayed; one breaks up the ground the best one can and hopes that the crops will grow (70).

Freire, Paolo and Donald Macedo. Literacy: Reading the Word & the World (South Hadley, Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey, 1987):
crisis of illiteracy = crisis of democracy
call for a literacy campaign that transcends a notion that literacy is a mechanical process, the techical acquistion of reading and writing skills; views literacy as a form of cultural politics, a set of practices that either empowers or disempowers, analyzed according to whether it reproduces existing social formation or promotes emancipatory change; views literacy as the relationship of learners to the world, mediated by the transforming pratice of this world taking place...where learners travel
Part I: reconstructed theory of literacy
II: concrete historical analysis of campaigns for literacy in different countries
III: critique old views/chart new alternatives

Ann Berthoff, Foreward
Friere as “tramp of the obvious,”
vagrant, restless, but not impatient,
speculative, critical, on the move
unquiet, uncertain, critical pedagogy
all processes dialectical, nothing simply unfolds
recalcitrance of environments and structures
is necessary to growth and development
teaching and learning are dialogic,
dependent on critical consciousness of self as knower
pedagogy founded on philosophical understanding of generative power of language: means of making meanings,
brings thought w/ it; utterance and meaning making are simultaneous, correlative
naming the world a model for changing it
lectures are outmoded; late medical invention,
when books were scarce, originally a “reading aloud”
reinvent the lecture, problematize the format/
function of prof’l mtgs
consider the worth of an idea by what difference it makes

Henry Giroux, Introduction: Literacy and the Pedagogy of Political Empowerment
need to reconstitute a radical view of literacy that revolves around naming, transforming ideological, social conditions that undermine community, critical democracy
emancipatory theory of literacy, w/ corresponding transformative pedagogy
Friere one of few models for political = pedagogical
dialectical relation between humans and the world, between language and agency
literacy = self-critical about the historically constructed nature of one’s experience

Ch. 1: The Importance of the Act of Reading
Ch. 2: Adult Literacy and Popular Libraries
Ch. 3: Rethinking Literacy: A Dialogue
The notion of emancipatory literacy suggests two dimensions of literacy.  On the one hand, students have to become literate about their histories, experiences, and the culture of their immediate environments. On the other hand, they must also appropriate those codes and cultures of the dominant spheres so they can transcend their own environments. There is often an enormous tension between these two dimensions of literacy (47).
Ch. 4: The People Speak Their Word: Literacy in Action
To think correctly, to discover the reason for the existence of facts, and to make the knowledge that practice gives us more profound are not the privileges of a few, but a right that the People have in a revolutionary society (88).
Ch. 5: Literacy in Guinea-Bissau Revisited
…literacy by itself should never be understood as the triggering of social emancipation of the subordinated classes. Literacy leads to and participates in a series of triggering mechanisms that need to be activated for the indispensable transformation of a society whose unjust reality destroys the majority of people. Literacy in this global sense takes place in societies where oppressed classes assume their own history (106). Since the reading of the word is preceded by the rewriting of society in societies that undergo a revolutionary process, it is much easier to conduct successful literacy campaigns in these societies (107).
Ch. 6: The Illiteracy of Literacy in the United States
it is ironic that in the United States…over 60 million people are illiterate….(120).
I am inclined to think that this large population….were expelled from school…the question of power…is always associated with education…this expulsion reveals the triumph of the schooling class…Curriculum…involves…the scheduling, discipline, and day-to-day tasks required from students in schools… a quality…that gradually incites rebelliousness…[that] corresponds to the aggressive elements in the curriculum that work against the students and their interests….Schools values work counter to the interests of these students and tend to precipitate their expulsion…. (121).
Do you see how ideologically impregnated the term “minority” is? When you use “minority” it the U.S. context to refer to the majority of people who are not part of the dominant class, you alter its semantic value…you are in fact talking about the “majority” who find themselves outside the sphere of political and economic dominance (125).
We need to understand the antagonistic relationships between subordinate cultures and the dominant values of the curriculum….is it possible to use students’ rebelliousness as a platform from which they can transcend the mechanistic nature of literacy imposed on them by a curriculum…? (125)
[On] “a clothesline of information”…we may…remain unable to link one piece of information with another. A politicized person…can sort out the different and often fragmented pieces (130).
Political clarity is possible to the extent that…we transcend our sensibilities (the capacity to feel them or to take notice of them) so as to progressively gain a more rigorous understanding of the facts (131).
any radical pedagogy must first understand fully the dynamics of resistance on the part of learners (138).
Ch. 7: Literacy and Critical Pedagogy
Approaches to Literacy--Academic, Utilitarian, Cognitive Development, Romantic (146-148)--
all ignore the the way language may either confirm or deny the life histories and experiences of the people who use it (149).
Empowerment should never be limited to what Arnowitz describes as “the process of appreciating and loving oneself”….empowerment should also be a means that enables students “to interrogate and selectively appropriate those aspects of the dominant culture that will provide them with the basis for defining and transforming…the wider social order”….It is through the full appropriation of the dominant standard language that students find themselves linguistically empowered to engage in dialogue with the various sectors of the wider society…The students’ voice should never be sacrificed, since it is the only means through which they make sense of their own experience in the world (152).

excerpts @

Gaiman, Neil on Why We Read and What Books Do For the Human Experience:
on reading as essential for re-imagining the world (and relation to rates of imprisonment)

Grobstein, Paul, Reconceiving Inquiry: Againstness and Non-Foundationalism
(experiences in “reading” ambiguous figures), Sept. 20, 2009:

Hayles, N. Katherine. “How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine.” ADE Bulletin 150 (2010):
"essence" of disciplinary identity/most valuable thing English ever offered/widely applicable skill/cultural asset: "close reading"
seen in historical dicotomy with digital technology
(fast reading and sporadic sampling);
cf. also this epilogue with "prologue," television)

dominant technique is "symptomatic reading"
(in which the critic heroically reveals, unveils, resists
ideology of the text) no longer seen as a productive practice,
but formulaic and predictable

alternatives include "surface reading"
(for overt messages), aesthetic appreciation

following Vygotsky's concept of the "zone of proximal development":
the distance between actual and potential levels of development (teaching only effective if the distance isn't too great)

Hayles argues for a disciplinary shift to a broader sense of reading, to include hyperreading:
reader-directed, screen-based, computer-assisted reading: searching, filtering, skimming,
hyperlinking, "pecking," fragmenting, juxtaposing, scanning, strategy of reading in an "F" pattern

dealing with the "intractable empirical" of quantity with different reading strategies, like scanning and skimming, changes brain architecture/makes close reading more difficult

constant state of distraction; sustained concentration more difficult
(cf. 1961 Vonnegut short story; Walter Benjamin's contrast of distracted viewing of film, vs. contemplative viewing of art)

claims re brain re-wiring:
as hyperlinking increases, comprehension degrades
increased decision-making and visual processing
impairs reading performance
small distractions of Web reading
increase cognitive load on working memory
transfer to long term memory more efficient in linear reading

circular methodology: "nonindependence"-->
hypothesis affects how data is seen
most valuable yardstick our own experience:
anecdotal evidence of shift in cognitive modes
from deep to hyper attention,
more pronounced in younger age cohorts

distinctive advantages of deep and hyper attention:
deep attention essential for coping with complex phenomena
hyper attention useful for its flexibility
in switching between different information streams,
quick grasp of GIST of material, ability to
move rapidly among/between different texts
problem not hyper attention per se,
but need to ensure that deep attention continues vibrant

cf. the famous line coined by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: "the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing"--picked up by lots of folks, among them the great paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote a book called The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox: Mending the Gap Between Science and the Humanities, in which he uses the habits of these two different animals to evoke a classic dichotomy between persistence and agility of thought

third component of contemporary reading practices:
human-assisted computer reading
(analyzing patterns in large textual corpora)
merely species chauvinism to say that computers cannot read!

cf. work of Franco Moretti on "distant (large scale) reading":
generating ingenious explanations for intriguing patterns
skimming and scanning alternate with
in-depth reading and interpretation
seeking patterns and meaning--what are they?
pattern: regularities that appear through
a series of related differences and similarities
meaning: sensitively dependent on context
(monolocal for close reading, multilocal for hyper)

a way to think about interrelation of
close/hyper/machine reading:
different distributions of pattern, meaning, context

(for ex: increased emphasis on pattern,
makes need for outside context increasingly likely;
increased emphasis on meaning,
makes the role of pattern more likely subordinate)
each form of reading with distinctive advantages, limitations,
but can interact synergistically

teach our children to be "bittextual/"multitextual,"
able to read/analyze flexibly, in different ways
How? treat lit texts w/ various research paradigms:
visualization, storyboarding, simulation, game design
use tool kits for text analysis, visualization,
mapping, social-network diagramming
close reading one of many methodologies

exs: Romeo and Juliet: A Facebook Tragedy
computer-intensive algorithmic analysis of
large data sets, applied to cultural objects
reading electronic hyptertext fiction -->
many new kinds of discoveries enabled by machine analysis
literary studies should teach literacies
across a range of media forms, re-thinking what reading is

Goodman, James V. and Yetta Goodman, Eds Changing Literacies for Changing Times:
An Historical Perspective on the Future of Reading Research, Public Policy, and Classroom Practice
. (Routledge, 2009)
I: stretch understanding of term literacy (what counts/gets counted); expanding access to ever changing forms
II: literacy related to development from early readers thru adulthood
III. Dynamic shifts in literacy learing/teaching; focus on foundational issues
IV. Teacher preparation/professional development
V.  shifting policy contexts
Freire: education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation
into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom,
the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and
discover how to participate in the transformation of their world
I. 1: visual, communicative and performing arts as components/companions of print literacy;
students live in world of rapid-fire multiparty oral communication requiring little use of extended print texts
what it means to be literate has to change:
revisionist literacy involves figuring out multiple abilities needed to manipulate/understand array of signs, symbols, sounds, movements;
give weight to oral, visual, gestural, graphic performance as well as semiotic/sign presentations

Kauffman, Linda, "The Long Goodbye: Against Personal Testimony, or An Infant Grifter Grows Up," 1992, reprinted in Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, edited by Robyn Warhold and Diane Price Herndl (New Brunswick, NY: Rutgers University Press, 1997):
places "confessional" aspects of all feminsit criticms in an ironic light
provides autobiographical details to demonstrate her points that personal testimony
* is open to interpretation,
* tends to feed into oppressive master-narratives,
* is allied with individualism.
excessive focus on the self carries "the implicit message..that you cannot change society, only yourself...perpetuates narcissims and personal passivity instead of inspiring political action and social change"
spirited defense of theory: rejecting it discourages investigation of any complicating factors that may weaken the stance of victimaizaiotn or moral superiority; avoids the complicated questions of collusion and complicity in one's own oppression or with institutions
"while we are being exhorted to focus on our feelings, a lot of people are falling through the cracks"
keeping lines of self-critique open; writing in first person without making self the ultimate subject of writing
"writing about yourself does not liberate you, it just shows how ingrained the ideology of freedom through self expression is in our thinking"
"I never thought feminism was about happiness. I thought it was about justice."

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2003):
I. "You'll Never Believe What Happened"
p. 9: family stories control our lives
p. 22: two creation stories, and two different strategies for telling them-->suggesting different values: exuberance vs. authority/veracity; cooperation vs. hierarchy; balance vs. competition
p. 26: Do the stories reflect the world as it truly is, or did we simply start off with the wrong story?
Afterwords: Private Stories

change the stories we live by: change our lives
compromising stories by printing them?
oral stories public w/ group audience, written ones private, for reading (but t.v.?)
cf. effective, enticing stories of drinking, failure to learn from Exxon Valez spill,
w/ a private story about letting down a close friend, whose child had FASD
we've created environmental, business, political ethics
Want a different ethic? Tell a different story...Potential ethics, seasonal, annual...
"I find it easier to tell myself the story of my failure as a friend...
than to have to live the story of making the sustained effort to help..."
[telling vs. living a story? telling a story in order not to change??]

Kirp, David. “To Teach a Child to Read, First Give Him Glasses,” New York Times Sunday Review, August 6, 2016:

Lesnick, Alice, Ed. 250: Literacies and Education (part of Ghana 360)
multiliteracies framework: ongoing process of
personal, cultural and political negotiation--
singular & plural, technical skills & situated practices, individual & social, acquisition & participation
lots of material here; see for ex,
J. L. Lemke, “Literacy and Diversity”:
& James Paul Gee, “What is Literacy?”: is Literacy.htm
[answer: control of secondary use of language]

Lincoln, Kenneth, “Futuristic Hip Indian: Alexie,” in Bloom’s Literary Themes: The Trickster

Looman, Mary D. and John D. Darl. A Country Called Prison: Mass Incarceration and the Making of a New Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Maher, Jane. "Teaching Academic Writing in a Maximum Security Women's Prison." New Directions for Community Colleges 170 (Summer 2015): 79-88. DOI: 10.1002/cc
teaching inside pretty much the same as teaching on the "outside"--but there are crucial differences
differences in the students can sidetrack a teacher: the dangers of romanticizing the situation or of thinking about their crimes;
simply not prepared for their autobiographcal writing--began to select instead texts they could relate to
have to work harder because the stakes are so much higher

Martin, Courtney. "The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems," The Development Set (January 11. 2016):

Meiners, Erica. Right to Be Hostile: Schools, Prisons, and the Making of Public Enemies. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Introduction: this book builds on recent research to expand the definition of the PIC to include relationships between schools and jails (2)…the connections are…built in to the organization of everyday life within schools (3)….Adding the institution of education into the PIC asks researchers, activists, and educators to consider not just how our schools’ physical structures resemble prisons…but also the tentacles in policies, practices, and informal knowledges that support, naturalize, and extend relationships between incarceration and schools (4)….Those disenfranchised…have a right to be hostile. Anger, an “outlaw emotion” is a legitimate response to injustice or violence But…who possesses the “right” to be hostile? What mechanisms…transform these legitimate responses of anger and critique into a dysfunction or a pathology?The response…gets translated from a critique into an anger management problem. In the school to jail nexus, the pathologization of dissent is a powerful tool (6)….schools actively contribute to the privatization of …public issues (7)
Chapter 1: “Surveillance, Ladies Bountiful, and the Management of Outlaw Emotions.” 27-56.
Chapter 6: “Horizons of Abolition.” 165-186.

Morris, Monique. "The relevance of sacred inquiry in the education of delinquent Black girls." International Journal or Human Resources Development and Mangament 15, 2/3/4 (2015): 185-193.
Multiple, intersecting factors contribute to the over-representation of Black girls among students who experience exclusionary discipline and other criminalising factors in school. Education is an important rehabilitative factor among girls in trouble with the law; however, there has been little investigation into the practices that interrupt school-to-confinement pathways for Black girls. This article discusses the application of sacred theory and epistemological considerations that may provide a foundation for the implementation of a liberative pedagogical model for educating girls who have a history of formal contact with the criminal legal system.
"sacred science": a method of human inquiry that involves “nurturing the growth of love, beauty, wisdom and compassionate action"...practitioners appreciate and love the participant, not just attempt to "treat" her; experience, representation, understanding and action are four aspects of sacred inquiry; facilitating conditions include providing a "safe space" for the young women, and "meeting them where they are" academically and emotionally

Nussbaum, Martha. Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge University Press, 2003):
"Emotions are...highly complex and messy parts of...reasoning"...the complete cognitive structure of the emotions has a narrative form...which of course is the great psychological function of literature....."Insofar as they involve acknowledgement of neediness and lack of self-sufficiency, emotions reveal us as vulnerable to events that we do not control....Emotions seem to be characterized by ambivalence toward their objects. In the very nature of our early object relations...there lurks a morally subversive combination of love and resentment, which springs directly from the thought that we need others to survive and flourish, but do not at all control their is in this way always...mixed up with hatred...partiality and the extreme form of vulnerability [personal love] involves...make a connection with jealousy and anger virtually inevitable....Emotions should be understood as "geological upheavals of thoughts": as judgments in which people acknowledge the great importance, for their own flourishing, of things that they do not fully control--and acknowledge thereby their neediness before the world and its events....The child's evolving recognition that the caretaker sometimes fails to bring it what it wants gives rise to an anger that is closely linked to its emerging love....narrative artworks...give us information about these emotion-histories....Storytelling and narrative play are essential in cultivating the child's sense of her own aloneness, her inner becomes a place for trusting differentiation of self from world.:

Plemons, Anna. A Lingering Coloniality: Considering the Epistemic and Structural  (Im)Possibilities of University-Sponsored Prison Writing Programs." Dissertation, Washington State University, 2014:

Chapter 1: Getting Inside: An Introduction

This dissertation is the story of a personal and professional incongruence, a state of disharmony, a recognition of things unsuitable (3)….specifically, it is a collection of related observations about how a lingering coloniality functions within the epistemology and structures of inquiry employed in the discipline of Composition….
coloniality functions and is fostered in our still-modern structures of inquiry…..
Grammatology is the basis for my understanding of the unclose-able nature of texts. Using a derridean leas exposes the tension between the closable logic of expository writing as we teach it and the increasingly open uses of writing employed in high-stakes, out of school locations….
The scholarship on indigenous methodologies describes the possibility of structures of inquiry that privilege relationality and relational accountability (4).
I see that the separation of theory and story—words that “prove” from words that “show”—is a futile exercise…”there is a story in every line of theory” (5).
…about me finding that the type of professional relationship I wanted to have with the teaching artists of New Folsom was not possible within the structures of inquiry ubiquitous in the academy. In telling the story of how I tried to work within and make sense of this fundamental incongruence I find that my voice cannot be separated from the base and treble of both harmonic and discordant notes. It is important to me to honor these voices, especially the ones who think about and see things differently than I do….I imagine that al the actors in my networked story have something to say so I have tried leave space even for the walls to talk (6).

Chapter Overviews
2: broad argument for literacy as acts of creative resistance
3: rhetorics of transformation still form the basis for much of the ‘what’ and ‘why of prison literacy programs; cf. Stephen Duguid’s articulation of the opportunity model, political economic rupture
4: looks at literacy myth in composition scholarship and community literacy work; distinctly colonial implication of conflating epistemic function of writing w/ its presumed material value; suggest viewing texts as rhetorical tools, vs closable manuscripts
as long as out of school writing communities justify their value through statements of meaning (narratives of transformation, salvation, confession, etc), composition scholars perpetuate the colonial commodification of writer and text, undermining their own “good intentions”; cf. Burkean language as symbolic action and Derridean Grammatology: theory of writing-as-action where uncloseable texts are circulated for complicated, layered, dynamic rhetorical purposes
5: critique of lingering coloniality in structures of academic inquiry (seen in own IRB termination notice, re: modernistic assumptions re: relation between knower and known unavoidable in current academic research methodologies)
6: uses ecosocial systems theory and Berhoff’s notion of “forming”: to suggest a study of the prison writing program that privileges respectful, reciprocal relationships over discrete texts and works, disrupts antiquated subject-object relations between sponsor-scholars and incarcerated writers
7: conclusion looking @ relational models for program design, implementation, assessment

A Word of What This Text Is Not Attempting
supports acts of resistance and disruption; many inmates do not
context of prison writing programs is impossibly complex because the context is impossibly unjust; need for real, immediate change is obvious and palpable, but definitions of what counts as change, whose interests are served is less clear; I am complicit, and I only visit; I and scholars like me add ot the problem by enacting unintentionally colonial methodologies; but keep building writing relationships inside and reject moniker of “neo-con jailer” and all such glosses that presume sponsoring anything other than protest is a placation strategy. There should be protest. But protest cannot be our only response, and not the only agentive option available inside. Because protest as the only option is no option at all.

On the Matter of Agency
Haslam: prison writings and prison studies share not only a history of resistance with 19th c slave narratives but also a hopeful paradox with that earlier abolitionist movement: an interdisciplinary interactivist form fighting for its own obsolescence
agency in New Folsom rarely takes the form of emancipation
essays presume/demonstrate a situated agency for both incarcerated writers and literacy sponsor, a living thing that must be tended.

Chapter 5: Coloniality and Academic Inquiry: Thoughts on a "Failed" Study of Two Incarcerated Teaching Artists
p. 125: And even outside the prison, the risks to human subjects in conversation cannot entirely be known and it is hubris for scholars like myself to guess after and/or promise safety in the exchanging of words. In this claim, I hear Scott Momaday (1997): “We have no being beyond our stories. Our stories explain us, justify us, sustain us, humble us, and forgive us. And sometimes they injure and destroy us. Make no mistake, we are at risk in the presence of words” (169). And it is this word-as-relational-and-generative-context, ripe with risk and possibility…

p. 129: Meaning in text is always on the move—caught up in an on-going, simultaneous processes of coming into being and erasure. Jasper Neel (1988) summarizes the constant movement in the Derridean theory this way: “Writing always leads to more writing: to displacement, substitution, gradual forgetting, and gradual distancing from the origin” (119). Derrida himself suggests that all writing is but marginal comments on previous writing, defined only by its indefinability; its meaning always situated, with an inexhaustible number of interpretations available.

p. 130: What I initially understood as the ethical conflict between the scholar and the IRB is really the space between the scholar and her own grappling with whether or not to subject other human beings to the sedimented structures of coloniality, made manifest in the accepted designs of academic inquiry.

p. 131: What is needed, then, are decolonial options—options for constructing academic inquiries that challenge modernistic conceptions of researcher and subject.

Chapter 7: In Lieu of a Conclusion: Three More Looks At AIC
p. 163: when and where we inscribe beginnings and endings—in communities, in academic studies, and even in texts—we presume modernist conceptions of the containability of things. In the spirit of things unfinished, this chapter eschews any definitive conclusion. Instead it is a call for relationality and relational accountability at the center of our theory and pedagogy.

p. 164:…the only thing stable about out of school writing communities, especially communities in prison, is their instability. And I hope this text makes a compelling case for relationships that foster participation and  options....just show up is a strategic alternative to show up in order to (fill in the blank)—fix, save, change, etc. It describes a reflectively critical pedagogy that pays attention to hegemonic structures, power dynamics, and fluid contexts. It also eschews rhetorics of transformation that presume an incompleteness, a brokenness, a not-yet-enough-ness on the part of students. Thus situated, “Just Show Up” sounds a lot like accompaniment.

p. 176: I always leave. And that inevitable leaving must fundamentally inform what I do when I am inside. To the extent that I write myself into the center of the story at New Folsom or make the writers therein my teaching subjects, I do colonial work that cannot possibly serve the community. And, as Williams reminds me often, the community does not need serving in the ways that outsiders imagine it anyway. The community needs joiners—as many as are willing to add their bit, in the moment, to the work already underway.

Ryden, Wendy. “Frederick Douglas’s Critical Model,” Journal of Basic Writing 24, 1 (2005): 4- :
Douglass’s Narrative a major textual site of perpetuating ideology of the “literacy myth,” culturally conservative belief in unqualified developmental power of literacy; but a close reading reveals a more complicated, radical notion of literacy acquisition: “learning to read had been a curse: a view of my wretched condition, without remedy, pit without a ladder….”
“the literacy myth” and the “romanticized power of education,” where “a flower girl can become a duchess through education”…“the easy and unfounded assumption that better literacy . . . leads to economic development, cultural progress, and individual improvement”….English studies is inspired by a certain  kind of disciplinary romance
building on Deborah Brandt’s emphasis on literacy as a  communal, intersubjective activityà “the myth includes not only  the mistaken assumption that literacy begets economic freedom, but also  the fallacy that literate persons think better than do non-literate persons”
and that literacy is largely a matter of individual development. Through the literacy myth, we place faith in the abstraction that language, like knowledge,  is empowering without asking how, for whom, and at whose expense this empowerment occurs.
Douglass’s critical presentation of literacy acquisition is often obscured and absorbed by the larger prevailing cultural narrative of the literacy myth…
Houston Baker and Henry Louis Gates, who identified the paradoxical attempts of Douglass to author himself through appropriation of the Master’s language… “by seizing the white word, does Douglass become inscribed in it?”
Douglass’s “definitions of literacy” shift as he demonstrates an “understanding of literacy as a system of self-representation . . . and as an avenue for political representation as he attempts to speak and write for an oppressed people without alienating his white readership”
students tend to read the work transparently
in classrooms, Douglass’s literacy narrative becomes a morality tale, a  way of shaming lackadaisical pupils, especially African American and other  minority students, into an appreciation for what they have, and at the same time reaffirming our cultural literacy myth…. “Too often, readers conceive literacy . . . as an emancipating skill which leverages the slave out of bondage and into freedom.”
Douglass’s assumption of iconic status results in a conservative absorption of the depiction of his relationship to literacy.
Douglass grants a significant role to literacy in helping him conceive of himself as a free man….”Commandeering American myths of self-reliance and heroic rebellion to describe his escape from slavery.”
But Douglass’s relationship to literacy and freedomis far more complex: “that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish” (42).
On a psychological level, Douglass’s literacy acquisition is an embattled and bittersweet process and a far cry from the liberatory discourse… a sense of disempowerment ultimately leads him out of slavery…. the realization of the limitations of literacy spurs Douglass on to his quest for both psychological and material emancipation.
literacy is, without doubt, essential to ending Douglass’s mentality of enslavement…But not everyone who is literate in the text experiences the enlightenment that Douglass does. For example, literacy, paralleling religion, brings no enlightenment to the slave owners. And neither does it to the poor white children whom Douglass bribes and tricks into teaching him his letters. Perhaps more importantly, knowledge does not bring these young people power….. actual bread is more valuable to the urchins than the knowledge they possess: they have knowledge but no food to eat… Knowledge does not improve their condition… education in and of itself will not lead to psychological or material remedy.
Quite in opposition to a literacy myth that values words over violence, Douglass declares the importance of physical resistance…Unequivocally, Douglass announces that “This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning point in my career as a slave….”
education helped prime Douglass for this pivotal moment…. But the progressive act of literacy instruction offered by the benevolently intended mistress would not have been enough to inspire the dramatic change of consciousness… the outcome of Douglass’s literacy is intrinsically connected to the conflicted conditions under which it was acquired…. for Douglass the desire for literacy does not become connected to critical consciousness until he hears Master Auld’s “inch/ell” pronouncement …. he “comes to understand . . . that he is not expelled from the social system . . . but rather inside it and oppressed. “
this text is not assimilationist but rather [what Pratt calls] auto-ethnographic, involving “a selective collaboration with and appropriation of idioms"
cf. Shoshana Felman: “if teaching does not hit upon some sort of crisis, if it does not encounter either the vulnerability or the explosiveness of an (explicit or implicit)  critical and unpredictable dimension, it has perhaps not truly taught” (!)
Without the crisis of interdiction, the embattled conditions under which the slave encounters education, Douglass might have acquired information from Mistress Auld, but without knowing how to read…in the critical sense
literacy cannot be given…it must be taken if it is to produce the critical consciousness that leads to emancipation.
the paradigm of oppositional, crisis-based learning is not one that can be easily transferred to the classroom
We should be careful not to overstate the claims for the critical awareness engendered through this classroom genre and, more importantly, to be wary of the power of the literacy myth to absorb and appropriate critical models in a way that does disservice to the potential of critical literacy.

Solnit, Rebecca. The Faraway Nearby (Penguin, 2014):
I. Apricots
What's your story? It's all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost...We tell ourselves stories in order ot live, or to justify taking lives...tell ourselves stories that save us and stories that are the...well in which we drown...Not a few stories are sinking ships....

We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us...Often, too often, stories saddle us...tell us what to do...The task of learning to be free requires become the storyteller...
Fairy tales are about trouble, about getting intoit and out of it...a necessary stage on the route of becoming...Fairy tales are almost always the stories of the powerless....the powerless thrive on alliances,often int he form of reciprocated acts of kindness....sown among the meek..harvested in crisis...

Reviewed in BrainPickings:
The object we call a book...exists fully only in the act of being read; and its real home is inside the head of the reader, where the symphony resounds, the seed germinates. A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another....Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say tosomeone...Said to total strangers in the silence of writing that is recuperated and heard in the solitude of reading....writing is speaking to no that converation with the absent, the farawya, the not-yet-born, the unknown and the long-gone for whom writers write, the crowd of the absent who hover all around the desk.

Sweeney, Megan. "Provocations and Possibilities: Rethinking Prisoners' Discourse." Genre 2002: 393-405.
introduction to special issue on genre of "prison writing":
Dylan Rodriguez questions generic classificaiton, explores counterhegemonic cognitve praxis: prisons benefit from existence of a genre which foregrounds the prison's pedagogical capacities; critique of ways in which "prison writing" reifies the prison, solidifies its role in defining civic freedom against juridical unfreedom, securing social peace through legitmated state violence; theorizes prison praxis as acontradictory modality of critique and political dissent which "critically reinscribes...the condition of captivity while violating the social logic of incarceration"
Doug Taylor's essay illuminates how Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl revises some of the central tropes in the founding text of the modern penitentiary, by Benjamin Rush; 'nother essay looks at contradiction between Thoreau's transcendetnal individualism and more communal political impulses; 'nother @ narrative of urban professional jazz musicians incaracerated on narcotics charges (re: state agents' alleged hatred for pleasure-premised interracial association); other essays by incaracerated people
Sweeney's own essay proposes two-fold notion of literacy: calls for recognition of insights of imprisoned women that might interrupt current punishment practices, and for development of more nuanced methods for reading complex, contradictory nature of their reflections, as cultural actors making strategic use of available narrative frameworks

Sweeney, Megan. Reading is My Window: Books and The Art of Reading in Women's Prisons (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010):
Introduction, 1-17.
Chapter One: “Tell Me What You Read; I Will Tell You What You Are”: Reading and Education in U.S. Penal History,” 19-53.
Chapter Six: “Encounters: The Meeting Ground of Books,” 226-251.
Conclusion: “This Really Isn’t a Rehabilitation Place: Poliy Considerations,” 252-258.

Sweeney, Megan. The Story Within: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading (University of Illinois, 2014):
Introduction: “All us women have a story within us,” pp. 1-10:
reading enables many prisoners to engage in active processes of reinterpreting and rescripting their lives...we all adopt culturally available narratives and models in crafting our identities. We can exercise some control over the meaning of our lives, however, by tak[ing] up bits and pieces of…the narrative forms available” and fashioning them into our own stores. The key…is “owning the stories that shape us as subjects.” Many women in prison literalize this process of self-fashioning through their engagements with books…often approach the act of reading with a greater sense of urgency…feel a pressing need to find something useful….
“Texts introduce a distance between the immediacy of experience and the self”… and that distance can enable readers to come to terms with their experience…to encounter [themselves]….reading also serves as a concrete means for prisoners to coutner the institutional forces that thwart human interaction and communication…reading and discussing books open up…a “third space…between inside and outside worlds where [prisoners] can ‘occupy their minds’”…
Afterword; “True Stories about Prison,” pp. 227-239:
“Well, who takes care of you?”
“You need a book to come at you like your best friend”
“If you can’t relate to it, then read about it”
“Don’t count me out”
….each of us plays a role in perpetuating the penal system, and each of us can play a role in changing the structures, policies, and institutions that keep so many members of our community in prison.

Taylor, Douglas. "From Slavery to Prison: Benjamin Rush, Harriet Jacobs and the Ideology of Reformative Incarceration." Genre35, 3-4 (2002): 429-447 doi: 10.1215/00166928-35-3-4-429.
ADavis on 4 great systems of incarceration in US: reservations, missions, slavery and WWII internment camps
Jacobs revised Benjamin Rush’s ideas of virtue, reformation, sympathy, terror, solitude as bolstering slavery;
her book a proto-prison narrative, anticipating 21th c themes, concerns
texts written during Black Power movement claimed that racialized character of punishment in US made all blacks political prisoners, w/ little difference in disciplinary technologies used inside and out
Jacobs similarly unmasks state-sponsored discourses of criminality and justice
Jacobs was hiding from Dr. James Norcom (“Dr. Flint”), private pupil of Benjamin Rush, Quaker who founded the modern “penitentiary,” place of solitude, reflection, reformation
Rush’s “color-blind racism” separated his anti-slavery activism from his efforts @ penal reform, in which blacks were treated differently
Rush believes that economic security of landowning classes enabled them to make disinterested political decisions (that lower classes couldn’t)
he wanted to make punishment effectual for reformation of criminals, beneficial to society (which public spectacles didn’t: lessened terror by normalizing it; radical sympathy could lead to resistance both to state law and extreme poverty)à unthinkable anarchy
Rush’s solution: remove punishment from public gaze, so its meanings could be state-controlled; terror assured by hiding prisons, nature and duration of punishments; speculation about the mystery more powerful than reality in inhibiting crime
Rush’s philosophy of reformation based on profound distrust of democracy, esp. enfranchisement of lower classes, who needed education to reform their attitudes, behavior, and so become useful citizens
Jacobs recontextualizes Rush’s themes of virtue, reformation, sympathy, terror, concealment in historically specific, culturally normative context of slaveholding south
Jacobs reveals sexual abuse of landowners (and so challenges Rush’s conception of virtue),
shows rape directed as act of political terror directed towards all slaves
Jacobs’ narrative paradigmatic in generating radical sympathy that Rush feared: writes a counter-terrorist narrative to resist the terror of slavery
since the cult of true womanhood associated female virtue w/ chastity, Jacobs had the impossible task of narrating her sexual abuse
in a way that indicted slavery, defended her virtue and elicited sympathy from “women of the North”
in Jacobs’ text, attempts at “reformation” are just invitations to the enslaved to participate in their own oppression;
Brent chooses the conditions of her own confinement, lays ground for her escape
spectacle both frightens the slaves and provides models of resistance for them
she composes counter/feit narratives of freedom that deceive Dr. Flint and create conditions for her actual freedom
Jacobs shows how Rush’s technology of reformation is mediated by white supremacy,
demonstrates his failure to account for the intersection of race, slavery, punishment in the US
his idealized, abstract style is also used in the Constitution, and today, when
allegedly race-neutral social policies decrease presence of people of color in education, increase their presence in jails