Skip to content

Themes

Teaching the Carceral organizes material by resource type (scholarship, news source, etc.) and by broad topical themes. Here, users can browse by themes and subthemes related to their scholarly or pedagogical focus. We chose these themes based on conversations with educators and students, and during the site’s beta period, we welcome feedback on theme names and categorization.

Movements

This theme includes movements seeking to change current practices of policing and imprisonment. Users looking for materials on policy proposals, constitutional challenges, abolitionism, transformative justice, community-based safety, and grassroots movements will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Abolitionism
Black Lives Matter
Prison and Policing Reform
Transformative Justice

Example Resources

Convict Labor in the American South from the Civil War to the Great Depression

Karin Shapiro Duke University Jackson Skeen Duke University Discipline(s): History, African & African American Studies Syllabus Last Updated: January, 2017 This independent study examines the convict labor system that emerged in the post-Civil War South. The student will explore the political and economic contexts in which convict leasing developed, analyze the demographics of those ensnared in… Read More »Convict Labor in the American South from the Civil War to the Great Depression

0 comments

Hope and Hopelessness in an Age of Mass Incarceration

Lori Gruen Wesleyan University, Philosophy Discipline(s): Philosophy Syllabus Last Updated: August, 2016 This is an advanced course taught through the Center for the Humanities for interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary undergraduate students. This interdisciplinary course, grounded on philosophical reflections on hope, respect, and exclusion, will critically explore the ethical, social, and political issues raised by mass incarceration. We will be… Read More »Hope and Hopelessness in an Age of Mass Incarceration

0 comments
An infographic breaking down a prison population

Million Dollar Hoods

Los Angeles operates the largest jail system on earth Kelly Lytle Hernandez Yoh Kawano Albert Kochaphum At a cost quickly approaching $1 billion annually, more than 17,000 people are incarcerated every night in county jails and city lockups. But not every neighborhood within Los Angeles is equally impacted by L.A.’s massive jail system. Enter the… Read More »Million Dollar Hoods

0 comments

Policing and Law

This theme refers to prison’s multiple roles in contemporary society, including the ways imprisonment structures, and is structured by, other institutions. Users looking for material on the economic and social functions of prison will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Criminalization
Death Penalty
Jail and Bail
Legal Issues
New Jim Crow
Police Procedures
War on Drugs
War on Terror

Example Resources
Man posing next to a Trials of Darryl Hunt poster

The Trials of Darryl Hunt

HBO Documentary Films Anne Sundberg Ricki Stern “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Both a social justice story and a personally driven narrative, the film chronicles… Read More »The Trials of Darryl Hunt

0 comments
Eastern State Penitentiary cover

Eastern State Penitentiary

Forged Images Production Cooperative Christine Bowditch January 1, 1998 Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary was built in the 1820s, inspired by Enlightenment ideas and Quaker belief in solitary reflection and penitence. This documentary, illustrated with period lithographs, engravings, and photographs, gives a detailed history of the prison from its initial practice of total solitary confinement through… Read More »Eastern State Penitentiary

0 comments
Two men sitting in a car with somebody wearing a creepy mask in the back seat

Evolution of a Criminal

PBS Darius Clark Monroe July 6, 2014 In Evolution of a Criminal, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe explores what led him to pull a heist as a teenager in Texas, and returns to the scene of the crime. By interviewing family members, close friends, and mentors, we learn about his transformation from a joyous childhood to the… Read More »Evolution of a Criminal

0 comments

Prison Experience

This theme comprises materials about prisoners’ and outsiders’ experiences of prison. Users looking for materials that convey prisoners’ voices will find them here, as well as materials that focus on solitary confinement, the incarceration of youth and older adults, in-prison programs, and prisoner resistance. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Aging in Prison
Prison Education
Prisoner Resistance
Prisoner Voices
Solitary Confinement
Youth Detention

Example Resources

Convict Labor in the American South from the Civil War to the Great Depression

Karin Shapiro Duke University Jackson Skeen Duke University Discipline(s): History, African & African American Studies Syllabus Last Updated: January, 2017 This independent study examines the convict labor system that emerged in the post-Civil War South. The student will explore the political and economic contexts in which convict leasing developed, analyze the demographics of those ensnared in… Read More »Convict Labor in the American South from the Civil War to the Great Depression

0 comments
CSN logo

Death Row

the American Film Institute, the Polaroid Foundation, the Playboy Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation Bruce Jackson Diane Christian July 6, 1979 Death Row is a film about daily life on Death Row in Texas. When the film was made in March 1979, 114 men were housed in the special death cells of Ellis prison’s rows J-21… Read More »Death Row

0 comments
The 13th poster

Mass Incarceration and Its Mystification: A Review of the 13th

African American Intellectual History Society Dan Berger October 22, 2016 Critical review of Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th  More Information

0 comments

Prison and Identity

This theme contains resources pertaining to the disciplining and imprisonment of diverse identities. Users looking for material on the over-representation of people of color in prison, women’s prisons, queer and trans* incarceration, and crimmigration will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Immigrant Detention
LGBTQ Incarceration
Race and Incarceration
Women and Incarceration

Example Resources
Screenshot of the Early Modern Prisons website

Early Modern Prisons

Exploring gaols, bridewells and other forms of detention, 1500-1800 Rachel Weil Richard Bell Early Modern Prisons is a collective effort to find out what it was like to be locked up in the early modern period. We are interested in the economics and government of the prison, the fees, the food, how alcohol was sold, how… Read More »Early Modern Prisons

0 comments
Historic photo of Black men on a chain gang

Slavery by Another Name

Sam Pollard, Director Catherine Allan, Producer Douglas Blackmon, Producer Sheila Curran Bernard, Writer February 21, 2012 Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end… Read More »Slavery by Another Name

0 comments
A man in an army uniform kneeling in front of a prison cell door

Race and Punishment in American Prisons

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory Jeremiah C. Olson May 5, 2016 This article deals with prison staffing conditions and standards and how they effect the use of solitary confinement in the prison system. The article also deals with staff perceptions of the inmates and their crimes often determines who ends up in solitary confinement. More Information

0 comments

Prison and Society

This theme covers prison’s multiple roles in contemporary society, including the ways imprisonment structures, and is structured by, other institutions. Users looking for material on the economic and social functions of prison will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Carceral Geographies
Prison and Public Health
Private Prison Industry
School to Prison Pipeline

Example Resources
An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

Ethics & Public Policy: American Incarceration

Nolan Bennett University of Georgetown Discipline(s): Political Science, Government Syllabus Last Updated: August, 2016 The novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once remarked that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” What then could we say of mass imprisonment in the United States, a nation with five percent of the world’s population… Read More »Ethics & Public Policy: American Incarceration

0 comments
CSN logo

“Where did all the white criminals go? Reconfiguring race and crime on the road to mass incarceration”

Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society Khalil Gibran Muhammad March 14, 2011 This article highlights racialized constructions of criminality that surfaced in the wake of mass migrations and immigrations of African American and European workers to the industrial North during the first few decades of the 20th century. This attention to… Read More »“Where did all the white criminals go? Reconfiguring race and crime on the road to mass incarceration”

0 comments

Detention and Incarceration

Andrew Dilts Loyola Marymount University Discipline(s): Political Science Syllabus Last Updated: August, 2015 This course asks what punishment in the form of incarceration and detention means in a modern democratic state and what this particular form of punishment reveals about conceptions of personal responsibility and subjectivity in the Western tradition. DetentionIncarceration

0 comments

Theory

This theme covers major theorists of the carceral state, both historical and contemporary, as well materials for ideas about teaching these subjects in the classroom. Users looking for material that explains a theoretical framework, overviews a theorists’ major contributions, or describes teaching philosophies about incorporating sensitive subjects in the classroom will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Theories
Theorists

Example Resources
A student raising their hand, seen from the back

Speaking of whiteness

compromise as a purposeful pedagogical strategy toward white students’ learning about race Journal Teaching in Higher Education Laurel Puchner Donyell L. Roseboro May, 2011 This article discusses pedagogical issues that arise in higher education when instructors of color teach classes with predominantly white students. We use student interview data collected during one graduate social foundations… Read More »Speaking of whiteness

0 comments
An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

Narratives of Female Criminality

Jess Issacharoff Duke University Discipline(s): English, Media Studies, American Studies Syllabus Last Updated: February, 2017 This course will examine common constructions of the female criminal in popular culture, using examples from literature, film and court cases that have captured the public imagination. We will read fiction by Toni Morrison and Oscar Wilde. We will watch films… Read More »Narratives of Female Criminality

0 comments
An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

Crime and Punishment in American Culture: Power and Poetics

Daniel LaChance Emory University Discipline(s): History Syllabus Last Updated: March, 2016 This class aims to help students understand the ideological, economic, and cultural sources of the punitive turn, the ratcheting up of incarceration and other forms of harsh punishment since the 1970s. It gives equal attention to the  popular representations and imaginings of punishment and the lived experience of… Read More »Crime and Punishment in American Culture: Power and Poetics

0 comments