1st Edition

Classics and Prison Education in the US

Edited By Emilio Capettini, Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz Copyright 2021
    146 Pages
    by Routledge

    146 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume focuses on teaching Classics in carceral contexts in the US and offers an overview of the range of incarcerated adults, their circumstances, and the ways in which they are approaching and reinterpreting Greek and Roman texts.

    Classics and Prison Education in the US examines how different incarcerated adults – male, female, or gender non-conforming; young or old; serving long sentences or about to be released – are reading and discussing Classical texts, and what this may entail. Moreover, it provides a sophisticated examination of the best pedagogical practices for teaching in a prison setting and for preparing returning citizens, as well as a considered discussion of the possible dangers of engaging in such teaching – whether because of the potential complicity with the carceral state, or because of the historical position of Classics in elitist education.

    This edited volume will be a resource for those interested in Classics pedagogy, as well as the role that Classics can play in different areas of society and education, and the impact it can have.


    Emilio Capettini and Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz

    PART I: Old texts, new classrooms

    1. Reading the emotions inside and outside: classical Greek texts in prison and beyond

    Emily Allen-Hornblower

    2. “Because we’ve done bad things”: understanding timē in prison

    Elizabeth Bobrick

    3. Dialogic pedagogy as a model for teaching classics in prison

    Nancy Felson and Nebojša Todorović

    4. Surmises and surprises: notes on teaching ancient Greek literature in a correctional facility

    Amy E. Johnson and Laura M. Slatkin

    5. Inside out: classical myth in a county jail

    Alexandra Pappas

    6. From family violence to civic order: ancient myths and modern theory in a medium-security prison

    Stephen Scully

    PART II: Beyond the classroom

    7. Teaching Ovid to incarcerated students: an experiential analysis

    Nicole Dib and Olga Faccani

    8. A poetics of performance liberation: a conversation about The Odyssey Project

    Michael Morgan and Zachary Price

    PART III: Critical pedagogy and the academy

    9. Returning citizens and the responsibilities of the academy: teaching for Columbia university’s justice-in-education initiative

    Dan-el Padilla Peralta

    10. Racing and gendering classical mythology in the incarcerated classroom

    Elena Dugan and Mathura Umachandran

    11. Critical perspectives on prison pedagogy and classics

    Jessica Wright


    Emilio Capettini is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His scholarly work has appeared in Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici, Classical Quarterly, Mnemosyne, and the American Journal of Philology.

    Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz is Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at Hamilton College. Her publications include Anxiety Veiled: Euripides and the Traffic in Women (1993), Greek Tragedy (2008), and many co-edited volumes, including Sex in Antiquity (2014) and From Abortion to Pederasty: Addressing Difficult Topics in the Classics Classroom (2014).

    'Do not be fooled by this slim volume and its mere 135 pages – though it be but little, it is fierce. This is a mighty book. Eleven short but substantial essays contributed by sixteen scholars comprise this book, which details several Classics-based educational programmes taught to incarcerated people in the United States. There are a wide range of approaches detailed here, and yet this is a very cohesive volume with its contents stressing four discernible interconnected themes. These are: descriptions of how these programmes were devised and structured with candid examinations of their effectiveness; honest appraisals of the value of ancient literature and culture to those who are among the most marginalised in our societies; enthralling reports of the profound experiences many instructors had while teaching in prison; and a willingness to confront some of the most pressing issues facing Classics today... We should all read this muscular little book – not only because it poses many prescient and even existential questions about the place of Classics in the world today, but also because it might just inspire a lot more of us to get out there and engage.' - Peter Meineck, The Classical Review

    'I cannot celebrate and be thankful enough for this very well executed book. This book will be eye opening and informative to those who teach "the" classics across a variety of institutions, contexts, and levels. It will also be informative to those who have or want to teach in prisons or programs for "returning citizens" or "citizens in transition." The book is full of pedagogical reflections, resources, and evaluations that without question will be extremely useful even to those not teaching in prisons. Further, the pedagogical import of this book reaches beyond the specific context, namely "prison education," because it is also a profound meditation on humanistic pedagogy as such, i.e. what is it that we aim to do as teachers of the "humanities."' - Eduardo Mendieta, Bryn Mawr Classical Review