Inside Voices: Power and Pedagogy in Prison
A Pre-Conference Seminar at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature (University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, Arkansas)
Biennial Conference (Thursday, April 2 - Sunday April 5, 2020)
Proposals due October 15, 2019
At a 2012 address to the Futures of American Studies Institute, Hortense Spillers asserted the urgency of critical interventions against mass incarceration, urging scholars to have these conversations now, lest they have them in prison rec yards in the decades to come. Since Spillers’s address, scholars and activists have demanded greater attention to the relationship between the public sphere and the plantation, and the prison and the plantation. Too seldom have we considered the ways that our institutional lives within colleges and universities parallel the institutional life of the prison, whose bars and walls are designed not simply to keep outsiders “safe”, but insulated from knowledge of the violence done in their names.
A plenary seminar at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, Inside Voices is structured as a roundtable in which participants write and distribute 5 – 7 page position papers on the prison. Position papers are broadly conceived as mirroring and adapting to presenter’s positionality; as such, the organizers might include narrative encounters with carceral space; policy prescriptions for reimagining the relationship between the prison and the region of the U.S. South, the university and the jail; and, with sufficient grounding in prison studies, textual readings that foreground carceral space. The organizer strives to include teachers and organizers who have worked in prison in formal and informal senses, especially formerly incarcerated scholars.
Biography of Seminar Leader:
Jennie Lightweis-Goff is an Instructor at the University of Mississippi and an Invited Professor of English at the North China University of Technology. Prison education projects have brought her to the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute Phoenix (formerly Graterford SCI) for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange, as well as to Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary and St. Gabriel’s Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. Lightweis-Goff’s teaching archive includes American literature from the colonial encounter to the present, urban studies, southern literary studies, and gender theory. As a scholar she is interested in the labor that sustains urban space, whether in the ‘captive’ cities of the antebellum south or the gentrified city of the southern present. Her scholarship includes Blood at the Root: Lynching as American Cultural Nucleus (SUNY Press, 2011), and essays published in American Literature, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, the minnesota review, south: a scholarly journal, and Southern Quarterly.
Instructor of English
University of Mississppi