By designing an undergraduate course syllabus and teaching manual for “Literature of Imprisonment: Creativity and Constraint,” I demonstrate that college professors can best educate students about the United States Prison System by employing strategies that bell hooks considers part of an education that is the practice of freedom through discourse. I agree with the following comment by hooks in Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom: “The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy. I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions — a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom” (12). My syllabus and manual do not suppress or deny diversity; they exhibit the type of boundary breaking hooks mentions by helping students understand that writing by such figures as imprisoned civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. can and should at once be a way to communicate ideas about race, class, and religion and to voice strong opinions about those ideas. Likewise, I break boundaries through this class by using theorists such as Michel Foucault and Jeremy Bentham to teach that imprisonment creates a sense of empowerment and disempowerment at the same time. In my course, students delve in to these subjects by looking at prison literature, art, and film. My pedagogical approach mirrors hooks’, too, because I value creating passion and pleasure in the classroom, which makes me consider not only students and teachers’ minds, but their bodies and spirits as well. And, lastly, future graduate students will be adequately prepared by my diverse, interdisciplinary undergraduate course because it encourages them to be quite self-directed and to make many connections to current issues.


Wingard, Leslie




Arts and Humanities


Prison, theory, discourse, freedom

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Charlotte B. Papp