Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies, University of Mississippi, and Co-founder and Director, University of Mississippi Prison-to-College Pipeline Program, will deliver a lecture on Tuesday, April 11, entitled, "From 'Genuine Solidarity' to Radical Togetherness: Student-Centered and Student-Led Learning Communities at Parchman and Beyond."
The lecture, in Naylor Auditorium in Gailor Hall, is at 7 PM. It is free and open to the public.
Dr. Alexander explains the goals of the lecture:
"In this lecture, I trace the roots and routes of the student-centered and student-led learning paradigm that I have established in prison classrooms in the U.S. South to critical prison studies scholar Angela Y. Davis’s approach to teaching behind bars—both while she was incarcerated, and later, when, as a university professor, she taught a course at the San Francisco County Jail. The lecture draws, in part, from Davis’s abolitionist conceptions of teaching in jail and prison in Angela Davis: An Autobiography, in her speech “The Prison Industrial Complex” (2000) and in her later critical prison studies text Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003). It emphasizes how I and fellow teaching team members in two higher education in prison programs have worked to esteem student leadership in ways that create classroom spaces within Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary/Parchman (MS) and Orange Correctional Center (NC) shaped by what Davis has termed “genuine solidarity”—a way of engaging with incarcerated people that affirms their humanity, agency, and intellectual curiosities in environments of state confinement in which possibilities for the very human needs of educational sustenance and personal connection with diverse social, professional, intellectual, and political communities are severely constrained. The lecture also highlights the conceptual framework of “radical togetherness” that I have developed during my more than fifteen years of teaching in prison and publishing on the subject. With the conception of “radical togetherness,” I draw attention to the solidarity-sustaining character work required of outside instructors who intend to teach in prisons and build community with incarcerated learners: this is ego-stripping, savior complex-eradicating work that demands that we who are not incarcerated do the hard work of intently listening to and learning from those who are incarcerated—or who have been incarcerated—as we collectively rethink what we study, how we learn, and why we teach. "