Making Citizens Behind Bars (and the Stories We Tell About It): Queering Approaches to Prison Literacy Programs

Alexandra Cavallaro


Scholarship in literacy and composition studies has demonstrated the many connections between literacy education and citizenship production (e.g. Guerra, Wan). Despite often being neglected in conversations about literacy education and citizenship training, prison education programs and incarcerated students have a unique relationship to citizenship and can make an important contribution to that scholarship. By putting literacy studies in conversation with queer studies and critical prison studies, I argue that we as literacy educators and teachers can train ourselves to notice and push back against the harmful ideologies underlying the discourse around prison literacy education programs and citizenship education. This attention to language is essential because it has a material effect on the incarcerated students we teach, as well as the futures we imagine for our classes, programs, and the wider landscape of prison education.


prison education; queer theory; citizenship

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