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"Caging Deviance": Notes Towards Day 21 (Thurs, Mar. 2)

Anne Dalke's picture

I. (Anne, 2:25-2:30):  coursekeeping
On Tuesday after break
: we'll have a visit from Rashida Ingram,
Social Work Supervisor, Riverside Correctional Facility

In preparation, please read Sabrina Alli's essay, “Carceral Educations,”  and
Larissa MacFarquhar's “Building a Prison-to-School Pipeline” (which Amanda flagged)

Also take with you over break and read as much as you can of Jennifer Gonnerman's book,
Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
(which we'll be discussing for a few classes after break).

II. (2:30-3:00): begin discussion today w/
collective mid-semester assessment
remember our discussion, weeks ago,
about reading ourselves as a text/as a class,
when we talked about safe and brave spaces?
we've talked since about Plemons' ideas
of invitation and joining...
added our own ideas about
sharing-and-interrogating our experience...
let's revisit this: what's working/needs working on
in our interactions among each other?

let's reflect, too, on our shared writing:
how are we feeling about the twice-weekly postings
(on our readings, discussions and praxis experiences),
as well as the papers you posted last week.

also: do you want to give us any feedback
on the reading assignments?
we'll be looking over the remainder of the syllabus,
over break, and glad for any reactions.

in short (or long!):
so: how are doing? what's happening?
what else we do want to be happening?
think both about the group as a whole,

and about your own contributions here:
what's working/needs working on?

take 5 minutes and write about this
(we won't collect; just a chance to gather our thoughts),
then discuss: what to affirm & what to attend to?

II. (3:00-3:45): y'day we watched Out in the Night
for today, we asked you to read
"Caging Deviance: Prisons as Queer Spaces":
being queer can land you in prison;
being queer can mean esp. harsh treatment when you are there

* what are the choices that the filmmaker, Blair Dorosh-Walther,
made about how to approach this story?
--and what are the impacts of those choices?
* think back about our discussion of 13th,
and the choices made by Ava DuVernay in that film,
and the impacts of those choices;
we chose this film, in part, in response to those choices,
to what was not explored in that film

* pair, talk, bring out

III. turn now to the article on "Caged Deviance"--
how does it help us think about the questions that the movie raises?

2 themes common to the film and the article we assigned:

desire, esp. same-sex desire
[p. 95: many incarcerated men and women engage in consensual, loving, sexual relationships
and friendships as form of resistance to the isolation and violent dehumanizaiton of prisons,
as a tool of survival within them, to affirm their humanity,
or simply as an exercise of basic human desire]
and the fear,
leading to violent rejection, of homosexuality
[this sort of desire is not analytically separated from violent sexual acts]

@ what levels might we imagine some intervention
into this dynamic, small as it might be?

what clues/suggestions do the film and article give us,
about work that is being done/could be done?

what about our own interventions/sites?
* pronouns
* narratives (R-defining Realness)
* lawyers
* organizations
YASP reading group

cf. Dan Colson's essay on "Geographies of Prejudice," which discussed
an all-male prison with its unique social mores--a space where they experience the need to perform specific forms of masculinity...
shaped by a hyper-masculine, homophobic culture...that leads them to reject all aspects of the gay civil rights movement....

from "Caging Deviance":
p. 95: prisons as the "largest gay ghetto"
p. 96: "situational homosexuality":
"Much of what was at stake in the anxiety over homosexuality in prison concerned its potential to reveal heterosexual identity as fragile, unstable, and, itself situational." As a result...prisons have become locations of magnified policing and punishment of sexual and gender nonconformity.
p. 103: sexual violence is an entrenched and intractable feature of prison serves the dual purpose of simultaneously queering prisons and punishing queerness and gender deviance