HC444H/431H - Inside-Out Prison Exchange: Autobiography as Political Agency

Professor: Anita Chari

4.00 credits

CRN 35749: Thursday, 4:00-10:00pm @ CHA 101/OSCI

This course is open only to CHC students. An an application and instructor approval are required to register for this course. If you are not familiar with the Inside-Out Program, please check out the information on the Honors College website here:  http://honors.uoregon.edu/story/inside-out-prison-exchange-program and watch the Inside-Out documentary here: https://uoprisoned.org/inside-out. Students may only take one Inside-Out class in a given term. However, given the limited spaces available, students are encouraged to apply to multiple sections if their schedule allows.

An Information Session will be held on Monday, February 13th from 4:30-5:30 pm, in the CHC’s Shephard Library, located on the third floor of Chapman Hall.

The application is due by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 15th 2023. See the application document for details on how to submit your application.

This class will be held on Thursday evenings at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem; transportation will be provided.  We will leave campus between 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. and return by 10:30 p.m., with class being held from 6:00-8:30 p.m.  

This class explores the autobiography as a form of both personal and political expression.  We begin by complicating, questioning and demystifying the divide between the personal and political by linking personal stories and histories with narratives of broader social structures, such as capitalism, patriarchy, slavery, and colonialism. We will read autobiographies from diverse sources, including letters, quasi-fictionalized autobiographies, poetry, and autobiographies of political activists.  We will also engage with theories of social structure and agency in order to theorize the interface between personal experience and political agency. A number of the books that we will read are focused on experiences of incarceration and the criminal justice system from different angles. In this course, we will think about the autobiography as a vehicle for making personal experience something that is politically significant.  The act of writing autobiography itself creates political agency, hence our course title, “Autobiography as Political Agency.”  We are reading (and writing pieces of our own) autobiographies to think about how the autobiography as a form creates possibilities for both individual and collective agency.  

Please note that the Inside-Out format of this class is dependent on the prisons allowing the course to take place.