Humanities Center Director: Thomas Wilson

Doran Larson

Professor of English and Creative Writing, Hamilton College

Bearing Digital Witness: The Humanities, Social Justice, and the American Prison Complex

Thursday, February 20 • 4:10pm • Taylor Science Center 3024

This talk will broadly outline the unprecedented scale of incarceration in the US today and describe two efforts to disseminate the work of prison writers bearing witness to conditions inside the US prison complex: Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America (Michigan State UP, 2014), and The American Prison Writing Archive,  a Hamilton Digital Humanities Initiative project.  Legal scholar Jonathan Simon has observed that Foucault’s Discipline and Punish introduced humanists  to the prison as a viable subject of study in the very years that the US prison was growing to a scale seemingly incomprehensible except to the statistical analyses associated with the social sciences.  This talk will describe and open discussion of efforts to bring humanists back into social justice work surrounding prisons not only through extra-curricular activism but by directly engaging our disciplinary training with prison narrative on a global, digital  platform.  The talk will be introduced by Professor Angel Nieves and Janet Simons, Co-Directors of the Digital Humanities Initiative, who will briefly discuss the DHi.

Doran Larson is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Hamilton College.  He has led The Attica Writer’s Workshop since 2006.  He is the founder of the Attica-Genesee Teaching Project, which began delivering college-credit courses inside Attica in January 2011. He has recently organized a post-secondary prison education program at Mohawk Correctional Facility.  Larson’s essays on prison writing, prison teaching, and related issues have appeared in Salmagundi, College Literature, English Language Notes, Radical Teacher, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The (on-line) Atlantic Monthly.  He is the editor of  “The Beautiful Prison,” a special issue of Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (UK) in which incarcerated people, prison teachers and critics imagine what the U.S. prison would look like if transformed into a constructive institution. Professor Larson has also published two novels, a novella, and over a dozen short stories, in addition to critical essays on American literature and film.

Sponsored by the Dean of Faculty