Learning Together at HMP Hull
Learning Together Network, Dr Jo Metcalf and Dr Adam Calverley
Project Dates: 2018-ongoing
Members of the Cultures of Incarceration Centre lead modules in Criminology and American Studies at the University of Hull as part of the national Learning Together network. Learning Together is an initiative that brings our students together with students from HMP Hull to learn alongside each other – and from each other. On these modules, a small group of selected students go into HMP Hull each week to study alongside inmates doing the same module, sharing the same learning space and assessments. The scheme is breaking down barriers: creating dialogue between two groups who’ve historically had no contact. It’s a chance for university students to get an insight into the life experiences of people who are often of a similar age with comparable interests, but whose journey has been very different.
Leverhulme Fellowship: English Prisons at War: Imprisonment during national crisis, Prof Helen Johnston
The Leverhulme Trust, Prof Helen Johnston
Project Dates: 2019 – ongoing
‘English Prisons at War’ focuses on a neglected period of penal history within existing research: the English prison system during the two World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. The aim is to explore in detail via a wide range of archival and documentary sources the impact and effects of war on the prison estate and its management; on the size and composition of the prison population; on the buildings in which prisoners and officers lived and worked; on the lives and careers of prison officers and governors; and on the everyday experience of imprisonment for those in custody.
British Academy Small Grant: Representing the Scottsboro Boys: Labor Defender and the Racial Politics of Radical Photography
British Academy, Dr Barnaby Haran
Project Dates: 2019-2020
‘Representing the Scottsboro Boys’ explores the ways that Labor Defender magazine used photography to represent the Scottsboro Boys, nine young African-Americans who in 1931 were sentenced to death for the rape of two white girls on
the basis of false testimony, in one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history. The Communist organisation International Labor Defense (ILD) led the campaign to acquit the Scottsboro Boys, and ultimately helped secure their eventual release, albeit following years of incarceration. As the ILD’s organ, Labor Defender publicized the case extensively in articles, short features, and on its covers, using photographs to advance the cause. This project examines the visual rhetoric of these photographic representations in relation to the political underpinnings of the ILD’s legal representation. Dr Haran assesses the extent to which the magazine fostered racial stereotypes in portraying these young men as black victims of American racism whose plight necessitated a Communist crusade.
Prison Culture and Creative Writing
Arts Council England, Dr Jo Metcalf
Project dates: 2018-2020
‘Prison Culture and Creative Writing’ worked alongside ex-offenders to explore popular prison culture, as represented in films and poetry, and to co-produce creative writing with participants, giving ex-offenders an opportunity to express their personal experiences through artistic expression. A key output of the project was the poetry collection, Hope Walks by Me, a Financial Times Book of the Year (2019), edited by Russ Litten and Jo Metcalf (Barbican Press, 2019).