Prisons, Literacy, and Creative Maladjustment

How College-in-Prison Educators Subvert and Circumnavigate State Power


  • Logan Middleton University of Denver


prison literacies, higher education in prison, creative maladjustment, state power, carceral state


Even as education is always a high-stakes endeavor, the stakes of prison education contexts are even higher. Given the ongoing violences of surveillance, censorship, and obfuscation in prisons, these environments are neither conducive to literacy practices nor do they support the flourishing of human life or growth. Simultaneously, however, prison educators working with incarcerated students navigate and push back against these oppressions to support students learning in everyday contexts.

In exploring these tensions through qualitative research, I argue that prison educators mobilize complex and highly situated literacy practices to subtly and quietly bend the rules in carceral environments. In deploying subversive acts of “creative maladjustment” (King Jr., Kohl), these instructors circumnavigate state power to sustain educational commitments to incarcerated students in the face of state violence. Through such explorations, I contend that literacy educators can better comprehend what it means to resist the state: for research, praxis, and survival.

Author Biography

Logan Middleton, University of Denver

Logan Middleton (he/him) is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Writing Program at the University of Denver. His research is located at the intersections of abolition and community literacies, where he seeks to identify and combat carceral logics of surveillance, obfuscation, and control in educational settings. In his teaching, he encourages students to experiment with multimodal meaning-making and strives to center justice-oriented forms of community learning and praxis. Logan is also proud to have served as a rank and file member of his graduate institution’s graduate worker union and to have organized with its cops-off-campus initiative in efforts to push back against the oppressions of the carceral state.  




How to Cite

Logan Middleton. (2022). Prisons, Literacy, and Creative Maladjustment: How College-in-Prison Educators Subvert and Circumnavigate State Power. Literacy in Composition Studies, 10(1), 1–24. Retrieved from