Open Access Article
This article describes how undergraduate coursework performs activist bibliography for the largest and first fully searchable digital archive of testimony writing by currently incarcerated people, the American Prison Writing Archive (APWA). The authors argue that when teachers invite students to participate as citizen archivists for the APWA as coursework, through contributing crowdsourced metadata such as transcription and subject tagging, the incarcerated writers whose manuscripts they edit become the epistemological center of the course. Through this pedagogy, APWA authors create and disseminate knowledge about the emotional and physical tolls of incarceration and the need for prison abolition. The article features two case studies in undergraduate teaching assignments: (a) students performing subject tagging of APWA testimony in a literature course, and (b) students transcribing APWA manuscripts in a literacy studies course. Both engage students in activist bibliographical work and digital humanities for a public audience that increases the functionality and content in the archive, defies carceral censorship, and demystifies broad public and political misinformation about prisons and imprisoned people. By detailing two possibilities for incorporating APWA editing into literature and literacy curricula, and its potential to ideologically transform student citizen archivists, the authors hope to attract more instructors to include this editorial work in their syllabi and extend our call for critical action within and beyond the archive.
(In the issue section "Rethinking Catalogs and Archives")
Leuner, Kirstyn J.; Koehler, Catherine; and Larson, Doran
"Activist Bibliography as Abolitionist Pedagogy in the American Prison Writing Archive,"
Criticism: Vol. 64:
3, Article 16.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/criticism/vol64/iss3/16