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Doing Time, Writing Lives: Refiguring Literacy and Mass Incarceration

Doing Time, Writing Lives: Refiguring Literacy and Higher Education in Prison offers a much-needed analysis of the teaching of college writing in U.S. prisons, a racialized space that—despite housing more than 2.2 million people —remains nearly invisible to the general public. Against the backdrop of repeated efforts to reduce funding for higher education in prison, this book explores the investments in the power of literacy that incarcerated students and their teachers make to rectify inequality and improve such students’ social and economic standing. It chronicles how incarcerated students attempt to write themselves back into a society that has erased their lived histories, highlighting the affective connections that form between teachers and students within carceral spaces and tracing the power ascribed to the written word. In doing this, Doing Time, Writing Lives challenges polarizing rhetoric often used to describe what literacy can and cannot deliver, suggesting more nuanced and ethical ways of understanding literacy and possibility in an age of mass incarceration.

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Patrick W. Berry, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric | Syracuse University | pwberry@syr.edu

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