Carceral Shakespeare

deadline for submissions: 
June 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Liz Fox (UMass) and Gina Hausknecht (Coe College)
contact email: 

Carceral Shakespeare
Edited Collection, Call for Papers

Shakespeare has been in American prisons over the last forty years, in arts programs and college-in-prison classrooms. Even as the landscape of incarceration has shifted—from the War on Drugs to the Fair Sentencing Act, from prison reform to prison abolition—Shakespeare programs have endured. While attention to these programs often reduce them to methods of “reform” and “rehabilitation,” these narratives of redemption do not capture the complexity of what it means to engage with Shakespeare inside the carceral system.

This collection seeks diverse voices and perspectives on  the impacts of encountering Shakespeare in prison. We invite work from currently and formerly incarcerated people, teachers, theater practitioners, and audience members. Co-authored writings and interviews are also welcome as this collection seeks to move beyond disciplinary and professional boundaries to create space for voices and perspectives not always represented in academic discourses. 

Questions that contributors might address include:

  • What are the most important considerations today for people teaching, studying, directing, or performing Shakespeare in carceral settings?

  • What expectations, both about Shakespeare and about incarcerated people, are imposed on these encounters? How are these expectations met, upended, or subverted?

  • How are pedagogies or performance practices of Shakespeare altered or adapted to specifically address incarcerated communities and to what effect? 

  • How do we understand the plays differently in the context of incarceration? 

  • How does  performing and studying Shakespeare reinforce existing inequities or other harms? What risks are entailed in introducing Shakespeare in prison?

  • What are the impacts of Shakespeare in carceral settings: for individuals in prison and post-release, for their families, and their communities? 

Please send proposals of up to 500 words that describe the tactic, problem, discovery, or impact that your contribution will explore by June 15, 2022 to Liz Fox ( & Gina Hausknecht ( Mail correspondence should be sent to P.O. Box 2300, Amherst, MA 01004. We welcome your questions about possible submissions.