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Working for JusticeA Handbook of Prison Education and Activism$
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Stephen John Hartnett, Eleanor Novek, and Jennifer K. Wood

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037702

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037702.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Writing Your Way to Freedom

Writing Your Way to Freedom

Autobiography as Inquiry in Prison Writing Workshops

(p.60) Chapter 3 Writing Your Way to Freedom
Working for Justice

David Coogan

University of Illinois Press

This chapter details how the use of a biography-based writing workshop helps imprisoned authors think about their pasts, reframe their presents, and construct new possible futures. It explores the deeper communication issues that structure narratives of criminality and violence but that also, when addressed truthfully, enable imprisoned men to begin to author new lives. The chapter contextualizes the men's autobiographies within the larger field of prison writing since the 1970s—particularly, the emergent genre of prison autobiography. The discussion is limited to work published by men primarily because the workshops examined here are filled with men. However, the process of crafting new selves via autobiographical writing is not inherently different for men and women any more than it is for black or white prisoners.

Keywords:   prison autobiography, writing workshop, imprisoned authors, communication issues, criminality, violence, autobiographical writing

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