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Words no bars can hold : literacy learning in prison
2019
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Summary

Incarcerated bodies, liberated minds: a narrative of literacy education behind bars.

Words No Bars Can Hold provides a rare glimpse into literacy learning under the most dehumanizing conditions. Deborah Appleman chronicles her work teaching college- level classes at a high- security prison for men, most of whom are serving life sentences. Through narrative, poetry, memoir, and fiction, the students in Appleman's classes attempt to write themselves back into a society that has erased their lived histories.

The students' work, through which they probe and develop their identities as readers and writers, illuminates the transformative power of literacy. Appleman argues for the importance of educating the incarcerated, and explores ways to interrupt the increasingly common journey from urban schools to our nation's prisons. From the sobering endpoint of what scholars have called the "school to prison pipeline," she draws insight from the narratives and experiences of those who have traveled it.

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Booklist Review
Within the pages of this slim volume, readers will find an account of university professor Appleman's volunteer work, teaching college-level liberal arts classes to male inmates at a high-security prison. She includes anecdotes, learner profiles, personal blog posts, samples of student writing, summaries of current adult education pedagogical theories, musings about the American criminal justice system, arguments for providing higher learning for the incarcerated, numerous quotes, and lots and lots of footnotes. Content is ostensibly organized into thematic chapters like ""No Hugs for Thugs: Surveillance and Control,"" as the text veers between wrenching examples of student poetry, occasional lapses into stilted academic language (""As I will explore in more detail in this chapter ...""), and excerpts from the writings of luminaries ranging from Martin Luther King to John Dewey. While some transitions seem a little abrupt, a consistent approach rings true throughout the pages: Appleman's profound respect for her students. Despite being a bit of a mish-mash, this is an engaging and ultimately satisfying read.--Kathleen McBroom Copyright 2019 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Forewordp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Prelude: Education: Life or Deathp. xix
Chapter 1A Tough Sell: Education and Incarcerationp. 1
Blog Entry: Fist Bump Through the Barsp. 9
Chapter 2The Geography of Incarceration: The Glass Bubble in the Big Housep. 11
Blog Entry: "How to Do a Full Body Workout in Your Cell"; Or, Lesson Planning in Prisonp. 17
Chapter 3Of Freire and Frost: Reading the World Behind Barsp. 19
Blog Entry: Tony and the Blue Bookp. 28
Chapter 4"No Hugs for Thugs": Surveillance and Controlp. 31
Blog Entry: Saying Goodbye to Grandma in Chainsp. 40
Chapter 5"I Will Write Myself Out of Prison": Rewriting the Selfp. 41
Blog Entry: Knowledge Is Truly Food For Our Soulsp. 56
Chapter 6Writing in the Dark: Profiles of Incarcerated Learnersp. 58
Blog Entry: Sticks and Stonesp. 94
Chapter 7"What If I Had Started to Write in High School?": Interrupting the School-to-Prison Pipelinep. 98
Blog Entry: School-to-Prison Pipelinep. 116
Chapter 8"Songs from the Genius Child": Words No Bars Can Holdp. 118
Blog Entry: Stay Freep. 139
Epilogue: Thoughts Beyond the Bars: The Dark and the Lightp. 141
Referencesp. 147
Selections of Writing by Incarcerated Writersp. 153
Indexp. 155
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