English R1B

Reading and Composition: Prison Sentences: Reading Mass Incarceration

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2019 Koerner, Michelle
MWF 12-1 262 Dwinelle

Book List

Alexander, Michelle: The New Jim Crow; Berger, Dan: Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era; Jackson, George: Soledad Brother

Other Readings and Media

13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (Brett Story, 2016)


This section of Reading and Composition is designed to both exercise your active reading skills and to empower you to write compelling, well-informed, and well-organized expository prose and research-based essays. Over the course of the semester we will focus on the ways effective arguments are constructed (evidence, sound reasoning, rhetorical and stylistic strategies) as well as the “exigency” of those arguments (i.e. why is this argument demanded by this situation?). To this end, our work this semester will be oriented around the issue of mass incarceration and prison struggle. We will study the history of mass incarceration in the United States through texts, films, music, and visual art produced by activists, scholars, and artists working both within and outside the prison system. Course materials have been chosen to provide examples of effective argumentative strategies. My hope is that they will also provide us with a series of important historical and social questions for our discussions. Students are  encouraged to pursue research topics related to the theme of prison struggle but not necessarily covered in the course readings.

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