CFP: MLA Edited Collection, Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Sheila Smith McKoy and Patrick Elliot Alexander, Modern Language Association
contact email: 


Call for Essay Proposals: Teaching Literature and Writing in PrisonsEdited by Sheila Smith McKoy and Patrick Elliot Alexander

Essay proposals are invited for a scholarly and pedagogical volume entitled Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons. With well over two million people currently held in prisons in the United States, mass incarceration remains a nationwide social justice issue. One way that scholars, teachers, and activists have addressed this issue is by teaching literature and writing in prisons. These teachers and their incarcerated students interrogate the past and acknowledge the social injustices of the present. Most importantly, they use literature and writing to imagine a future in which these negotiations are no longer necessary.

This volume examines the teaching practices that animate literary learning communities in contemporary prisons in the United States. The editors seek contributions that explore the power and historical significance of literary studies and writing for incarcerated adults and children. We are interested in how and why scholars of literature and writing teach in prisons, jails, juvenile centers, or postrelease communities. The editors seek contributions from those who teach across the spectrum of literature and writing and engage with their students in the vital practices of critical reasoning, close reading, and deep interrogation of our world. We also seek contributions that discuss the intersections among critical prison studies, literature, writing, and social justice.

The editors also plan to explore the bidirectional educational experiences of teachers and students who participate in literature and writing classes in prisons. We seek to understand how these courses affect incarcerated students and their teachers. As such, this volume will share ideas about new feminisms, masculinities, racial and gendered discourse, and the yet-to-be-named social chasms that define this moment of mass incarceration.

Potential volume topics include

  • literacy, reading, and rehabilitation;

  • teaching literature or writing in prisons and university-community engagement;

  • relations among radical prison reform, prison abolition, and teaching literature or writing in prisons;

  • teaching literature or writing in prisons with controversial histories, book bans, or prison library issues;

  • teaching in different types of prison facilities: men’s, women’s, juvenile, plantation-style, private or state, high-level security or minimum-security, etc.;

  • teaching literature or writing in college-in-prison programs;

  • learning communities with college students and imprisoned students;

  • the possibilities and limits of critical pedagogies, liberatory pedagogies, or team teaching when teaching literature or writing in prisons;

  • challenges with teaching literature or writing in prisons;

  • establishing and sustaining literature or writing programs in prisons;

  • teaching and reimagining masculinities, feminisms, and sexuality or sexualities in prison;

  • gender, race, and othering in prison pedagogy;

  • the effect(s) of teaching literature and writing in prisons;

  • teaching and learning about radical intellectualism or social inequality in prison;

  • approaches to curriculum development and learning activities when teaching literature or writing in prison;

  • literature and writing as rehabilitation;

  • literatures of empowerment;

  • technology and prison education;

  • (re)conceptualizing prisoners as writers, students, and teachers;

  • and publishing and imprisoned writers.


We invite essay proposals from authors with diverse backgrounds, including incarcerated or formerly incarcerated teachers and students, as well as all humanities educators (historians, law professors, religious studies professors, etc.) who teach literature or writing in prisons or jails. Please submit proposals by 15 November 2018 and include


  • a 300–400-word abstract

  • a 100–150-word biography


Sheila Smith McKoy,
Patrick Elliot Alexander,

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