ENGL 3052 - Prison Writing: Liberty and Language

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2021

The relationship between intellectual freedom and literature is never so pronounced as it is in prison, where many writers have spent time reflecting on their experience and committing it to the page, and where many political prisoners have turned to the pen to continue their struggles from inside. In a world where internment and refugee camps, detention centres, and prisons have never been so common, where to be incarcerated is to be part of a world-wide community of the displaced, the persecuted, and the neglected, it pays to review the history of writing from detention. Pursuing a course from the 17th century through to today, in a number of national contexts, this course will reveal patterns of continuity and disruption as the reasons for imprisonment change, while the basic punishment stays the same. Along the way, we will discover literary strategies of critique, escapism, melancholy, and hope, and a tradition of radical thinking hatched within the grim machinery of sequestration and solitude.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENGL 3052
    Course Prison Writing: Liberty and Language
    Coordinating Unit English and Creative Writing
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites 18 Units of study at Levels I and II including ENGL 1101
    Course Description The relationship between intellectual freedom and literature is never so pronounced as it is in prison, where many writers have spent time reflecting on their experience and committing it to the page, and where many political prisoners have turned to the pen to continue their struggles from inside. In a world where internment and refugee camps, detention centres, and prisons have never been so common, where to be incarcerated is to be part of a world-wide community of the displaced, the persecuted, and the neglected, it pays to review the history of writing from detention. Pursuing a course from the 17th century through to today, in a number of national contexts, this course will reveal patterns of continuity and disruption as the reasons for imprisonment change, while the basic punishment stays the same. Along the way, we will discover literary strategies of critique, escapism, melancholy, and hope, and a tradition of radical thinking hatched within the grim machinery of sequestration and solitude.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Julian Murphet

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Show awareness and understanding of major themes in prison literature
    2. Work together with others on a specified research project
    3. Analyse complex literary texts for social and political information
    4. Participate responsibly and ethically in class discussion on sometimes sensitive material
    5. Reflect historically on their personal reactions to literary texts
    University Graduate Attributes

    No information currently available.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Oscar Wilde, De Profundis and Other Prison Writings (1897)

    Alexander Berkman, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1912)

    Rosa Luxemburg, Selected prison letters (1914-18)

    Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos (1943-4)

    Primo Levi, If This Is a Man (1947)

    Ruth First, 117 Days (1965)

    Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962)

    Angela Y. Davis, If They Come in the Morning (1971) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)

    Bobby Sands, Writings from Prison (1981)

    Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wrestling with the Devil (1981)

    Nawal El Saadawi, Memoirs from the Women’s Prison (1983)

    Behrouz Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains: Writings from Manus Prison (2019)
    Recommended Resources
    Other Primary Texts

    Mumia Abu-Jamal, Live from Death Row

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

    Robert E. Burns, I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang

    George Jackson, Soledad Brother

    David Lowrie, My Life in Prison

    Martin Luther King Jr., Letters from Birmingham Jail

    Hồ“ Chí Minh, The Prison Diary of Ho Chi Minh

    Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number

    Malcolm X, Autobiography of Malcolm X


    Great Works Written in Prison

    Le Morte d'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory

    The Travels of Marco Polo, by Rustichello da Pisa

    Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

    History of the World Volume 1, by Sir Walter Raleigh

    "To Althea, from Prison", by Richard Lovelace

    A Hymn to the Pillory, by Daniel Defoe

    Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan

    Justine, by the Marquis de Sade

    Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, by John Cleland

    Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

    The Enormous Room by e.e cummings

    Our Lady of the Flowers, by Jean Genet

    In the Belly of the Beast by Jack Abbott


    Historical and Theoretical Readings

    Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life

    Michel Agier, Managing Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government

    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp. 3-31, 135-169, 195-308 _______, “Society Must be Defended,” pp. 239-264

    Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, and Opposition in Globalizing California

    E. Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates

    Emma Goldman, ‘Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure’

    Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, pp. 1-23
    _______, Letters from Prison Vol. I, pp. 62-63, 65-72, 91-98, 107-114; Vol. II, pp. 167-170, 330-332

    Joy James, Imprisoned Intellectuals: America’s Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion

    Laleh Khalili, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies

    Lorna Rhodes, Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison

    C. W. Thomas and D. M. Petersen, D. M., Prison Organization and Inmate Subcultures
    Online Learning
    There will be 3 quizzes to attempt in class at random times over the semester.

    Collaboration for a major assessment task will take place partly online, through discussion boards and database construction.

    The final take-home examination will be conducted online.

    MyUni will make some materials available online, for course reading.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There will be 12 lectures, each around an hour long, delivered as recorded Echo360 lectures in accordance with University COVID-safe policy. These are available via the online course site at myUni.

    There will be 12 2-hour seminar/tutorials over the duration of the course. These will be structured in a variety of ways. Generally, there will be opportunity for student group presentations; in-class activities; general discussion; and sporadic in-class assessment tasks.

    There are also quizzes and other activities available online through the course site, where course competencies will be tested.

    Discussion boards will be established where students can freely exchange ideas and opinions, moderated by the course coordinator.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.


    WORKLOAD – SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING TOTAL HOURS

    6 hours reading per week 72 hours per semester
    2 hours research per week 24 hours per semester
    0.5 hours online engagement per week 6 hours per semester
    1.5 hours assignment preparation per week 18 hours per semester
    TOTAL     = 156 hours per semester
     

     

    Learning Activities Summary
    WEEK LECTURE TUTORIAL/SEMINAR
    1 Introductory: What is prison writing? Oscar Wilde, De Profundis and 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' (1897)
    2 On Alexander Berkman Alexander Berkman, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1912)
    3 On Rosa Luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg, Selected prison letters (1914-18)
    4 On Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos (1943-4)
    5 On Primo Levi Primo Levi, If This Is a Man (1947)
    6 On Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962)
    7 On Ruth First Ruth First, 117 Days (1965)
    8 On Angela Y. Davis and George Jackson Angela Y. Davis, If They Come in the Morning (1971) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)
    9 On Bobby Sands Bobby Sands, Writings from Prison (1981)
    10 On Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Wrestling with the Devil (1981)
    11 On Nawal El Saadawi Nawal El Saadawi, Memoirs from the Women’s Prison (1983)
    12 On Behrouz Boochani Behrouz Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains: Writings from Manus Prison (2019)
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    One of your assessment tasks is a 'scaffolded collaborative research essay and preparation'.

    For this task you will be assigned to a small group of 3-4 students, charged with the initial responsibility for preparing and presenting research on an upcoming seminar topic (e.g., on Ruth First's 117 Days, or Primo Levi's If This Is a Man). Collectively, the team will determine what each member of the team should do by way of research preparation: which essays to read, which sections of the book/text to focus on, which specific research questions to address, etc.

    There will be guidance, for each totorial/seminar, on what kinds of research questions and materials might be most relevant.

    On the day of the presentation, the team members will present in an order decided in advance, collectively demonstrating a team-led report from a shared investigation. This presentation will last up to 20 minutes.

    On the basis of the research collectively undertaken and pooled in a shared database, each member will (in consultation with the tutor and the group) come up with a question to answer in an individual reseach essay. Team members should be careful not to overlap to any extent on their individual research topics.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assignments


    Online textual analysis
    Due 19 Mar 2021 at 23:59 
    Online analysis task
    15 Points

    Quiz
    Due at various times across the semester: random
    In-class quizzes
    15 Points

    Scaffolded collaborative research essay and preparation
    Due 28 May 2021 at 23:59 
    Combined task: group research, group presentation, individual essay
    40 Points

    Take-home examination
    Due 4 Jun 2021 at 23:59
    Take-home examination released on MyUni, accessible for 4 days, June 1-4.
    30 Points 
    Assessment Related Requirements
    In order to pass this course, students MUST attempt every assessment task. They need not pass every task, if their overall average for all tasks clears 50%; but without an honest attempt at each task, they will not qualify for a course pass.

    Please note that one of these assessment tasks, a scaffolded group research assignment, will require collaboration with other students.
    Assessment Detail
    Online textual analysis
    Due 19 Mar 2021 at 23:59
    Online analysis task
    15 Points

    This task will be written online, in relation to a specific passage taken from one of the early course texts: by either Oscar Wilde, Alexander Berkman, or Rosa Luxemburg. Students will be asked specific formal and stylistic questions about the passage; their answers should refrain from interpretation and keep very close to the text. A brief analysis of the passage is what is required.


    Quizzes
    Due at various times across the semester: random
    In-class quizzes
    15 Points

    This is pretty self-explanatory. There will be three quizzes held in class (during the seminar) at random times across the semester. The quizzes will be on matters pertaining to texts studied in the course to that date: matters of fact, not interpretation. They will be a combination of multiple choice, missing words, connect the parts, and other quiz formats. A good familiarity with the set texts and with the lecture materials should suffice as preparation.


    Scaffolded collaborative research essay and preparation
    Due 28 May 2021 at 23:59
    Combined task: group research, group presentation, individual essay
    40 Points

    This is a complex, tiered assessment task, undertaken both in groups and individually. At the beginning of semester, either in class or online, groups of 7-8  students will be formed by the tutor and assigned as a 'research group' to a particular author/topic on the course reading list. The group will be provided with a loose portfolio of ideas about what approaches they might take to their author, resources they might explore, theoretical angles they might consider, and a suite of specific research questions to pursue. Over the weeks before their presentation, the group will meet, online or in actuality, to discuss strategies, share resources, and compile a working database on their topic. They will manage a discussion board on their topic that other class members will be encouraged to visit and learn from. The group then has the responsibility of preparing a research presentation on their topic to the seminar class as a whole, on the day that their topic is due for discussion. The group will decide who presents what parts of their presentation, and in what order; they will run the seminar for the first 30-35 minutes of the 2-hour session.

    Based on their collaborative research, and drawing on the database and discussion board compiled by the group as a whole, each individual member will decide on an individual research topic related to their subject, agreed to both by the other members of the group and the class tutor. This task will take the form of a 2,500-word essay due at the end of semester, and demonstrating lessons learned throughout the course of the collaborative and individual stages of the project. 

    In all, these components will be assessed: the discussion board (pass/fail), the database (pass/fail), the in-class presentation (group mark worth 25% of total—10 points), and the final essay (individual mark worth 75% of total—30 points).


    Take-home examination
    Due 4 Jun 2021 at 23:59
    Take-home examination released on MyUni, accessible for 4 days, June 1-4.
    30 Points

    At 9am on June 1, the take-home examination questions will be made available through MyUni. These will be organized into 2 sections: one on the first half of the course, the other on the second. Students must answer ONE question from EACH section. However, students MUST NOT answer any question that concerns the topic of their research presentation and essay. Each question answered is worth 50% of the whole, or 15 points. The examination will close at 5pm on June 4, and late submission will not be accepted without certified medical or other acceptable reasons. There is thus a total of FOUR working days available to complete the examination, though students may submit at any time.
    Submission

    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    This course is running for the first time in 2021, so there is no existing feedback to incorporate. We will be soliciting students' advice for improvement during the semester, and encourage students to complete surveys when asked, in order to make this the best course possible on the subject.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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