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What is the Carceral Studies Network Project?

As people struggle to understand their own entanglement with mass incarceration and the carceral state, teachers and learners are designing new courses and producing innovative scholarship on imprisonment, policing, punishment, and community responses to violence. For some of us, these issues lie beyond our core scholarly focus, and many lack specific pedagogical training that can enable us to effectively, respectfully, and creatively engage these controversial issues in the classroom. This site is intended to help.

The Carceral Studies Network hosts resources for those seeking to teach or learn about prisons, policing, and the carceral state. Designed by instructors and students at Duke University, the site is meant to help teachers develop new courses from the ground up, or enrich existing courses with new materials. Learners will also find helpful resources, including texts that can complement assigned readings and syllabi that might facilitate self-study and community-based learning. We hope that this site will be a continually evolving hub for scholarly exchange, innovation, and dialogue, and we encourage users to share their own pedagogical materials with other teachers and learners.


One way the Carceral Studies Network attempts to help scholars and educators share knowledge about mass incarceration and the carceral state is by finely curating resources associated with this topic around a handful of themes. The below six themes were developed out of discussions that occurred in classes and events tied to the Humanities Writ Large funded Emerging Networks project, Mass Incarceration and the Carceral State. Users can browse by these themes (and their various subthemes) to discover resources related to their scholarly or pedagogical focus more easily. During the site’s beta period, we welcome feedback on theme names and categorization.

Main Themes


Prison and Society

Prison Experience

Policing and Law

Prison and Identity


Suggested Resources
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Southwest Prison Writing

Joe Lockard Arizona State University Discipline(s): English Last Updated: January, 2014 Course Level: undergraduate Assignment Summary: Comparison paper on Jimmy Santiago Baca and Ken Lamberton. Learning Outcomes: Comparison of prison writings english345paper4assignment

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Lived Spaces

Lisa Guenther Vanderbilt University Discipline(s): Philosophy Last Updated: September, 2015 Course Level: undergraduate Assignment Summary: Lived space – Everyday elements of Mass Incarceration (Created by Lisa Guenther, Vanderbilt University) If we live in a society that is structured by mass incarceration, then we should be able to see traces of these structures beyond the prison walls,… Read More »Lived Spaces

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Cruel and Unusual Care and Punishment

Epistemic Injustices in Correctional Health Care American Philosophical Association Philosophy and Medicine Newsletter 14.1 Andrea Pitts September 1, 2016 Hermeneutical injustice occurs when a collective gap in knowledge unfairly deprives an individual of an ability to make sense of her/his own experiences. Cases of hermeneutical injustice often involve forms of implicit bias and meta-ignorance that… Read More »Cruel and Unusual Care and Punishment



Suggested Research Resources
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Criminal Podcast Episode 49: The Editor

Criminal Podcast Daniel A Gross August 26, 2016 In November of 1988, Robin Woods was sentenced to sixteen years in the notoriously harsh Maryland Correctional Institution. In prison, Robin found himself using a dictionary to work his way through a book for the first time in his life. It was a Mario Puzo novel. While… Read More »Criminal Podcast Episode 49: The Editor



A main goal of the Carceral Studies Network is to increase the volume of research being done on mass incarceration and the carceral state. The Research section of the site hopes to support unique scholarship in this subject area by curating materials across genres and media. This section allows users to browse scholarly articles and books, multimedia films and podcasts, news aggregators, from popular films like Fruitville Station to innovative projects like HAL: States of Incarceration. For those just beginning research in this subject area, the suggested resources to the left offer a great place to start your scholarship.



Another main goal of the Carceral Studies Network is to grow instruction on the subject of mass incarceration and the carceral state. The Teaching section of the site sets out to scaffold teachers’ incorporation of materials about this subject in their classrooms. This section allows teachers to browse course syllabi and classroom assignments that have been generously shared by other instructors and remix and reuse them in their courses. The site also contains resources for teaching about mass incarceration and the carceral state in the classroom, as well how to teach in a prison settings. For those new to the subject or just beginning to think about how to incorporate the subject into their courses, the suggested resources to the right are a great place to start.

Suggested Teaching Resources
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Other People’s Problems

Student Distancing, Epistemic Responsibility, and Injustice Studies in Philosophy and Education Matt S. Whitt June, 2015 In classes that examine entrenched injustices like sexism or racism, students sometimes use “distancing strategies” to dissociate themselves from the injustice being studied. Education researchers argue that distancing is a mechanism through which students, especially students of apparent privilege,… Read More »Other People’s Problems