Skip to content


Mass incarceration. Aggressive policing. Hyper-punishment. Discipline and disenfranchisement. These are core features of the U.S. carceral state, which Marie Gottschalk characterizes as “not only the country’s vast archipelago of jails and prisons, but also the far-reaching and growing range of penal punishments and controls that lies in the never-never land between the prison gate and full citizenship.”1

This site, Teaching the Carceral, hosts publically shared resources for those seeking to teach or learn about the carceral state. Lately, we have seen a great increase in scholarship related to policing and prisons. However, it can be difficult to navigate this material, especially as it responds to emerging issues and crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. And amid a wide variety of impressive courses on these topics, instructors may feel like they are forced to reinvent the wheel, or else secretly poach from their colleagues, when compiling syllabi. Teaching the Carceral aims to encourage scholarship and teaching about the carceral state by making it easier to openly share materials, promote good ideas, and acknowledge the contributions of others working in this area.

This project is inspired by great resources like #FergusonSyllabus, the Prison Studies Project, and #CharlestonSyllabus. Rather than host a static web page or use social media to capture evolving fields of study, we have designed Teaching the Carceral as a kind of middle ground.

How to use the site

The site organizes and updates shared materials while (we hope!) streamlining the processes through which users contribute materials and interact with the site.

Users can browse materials by general theme (such as policing and law or prison experiences) or by resource type (such as scholarship, news resources, multimedia). There is a dedicated link to curated syllabi, which can be filtered by theme and searched by discipline. Users can search the whole site with the search bar at the right.

If you have course materials, readings, community discussion questions, or self-study guides to share, we invite you to submit them via the share page on this site. We are especially looking for materials that extend the site’s current offerings in new and innovative ways. We regret that we cannot host everything we receive, and new materials may take awhile to appear on the site.

Current state of the project

This project is currently in a public ‘beta’ mode. How it develops will depend largely on the kinds of resources that users contribute to the site, as well as what users find most helpful to their own work. Especially during this beta window, we encourage feedback on the usefulness of the site, its design, and its operation.  You can email us at

Teaching the Carceral is funded by a generous grant from the Duke Humanities Writ Large program. It is a component of the Mass Incarceration and the Carceral State Emerging Humanities Network, and was designed by Jessica Namakkal, Matt Whitt, Brian Norberg, and Taylor Johnson, in consultation with the members of the Duke Carceral State Working Group.

Over the course of  2020-21, the website received additional funding and support through the Humanities Unbounded Revaluing Care Lab.

1. Gottschalk, Marie (2014-12-07). Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics (p. 1). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.