Oakhill Prison Humanities Project
From May 2011 to August 2016 I taught classes at Oakhill Correctional Institution, a minimum-security men's prison located in Oregon, WI. I began my volunteer work there as a recipient of a Public Humanities Exchange (formerly Humanities Exposed) grant through the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for the Humanities. In those five years I taught and co-taught courses on numerous topics: Russian fiction, (auto)biography and memoir, the fantastic and absurd, creative writing, and drama and theater. I also served as Coordinator of the Oakhill Prison Humanities Project from July 2014 through August 2015. I plan to continue my outreach through different venues.
One of my proudest achievements during my time with the OPHP was organizing Artists in Absentia, a multimedia exhibition that featured the art, music, writing, and dramatic work of inmates from Oakhill. It opened at the Madison Public Library as part of the Bubbler's artist-in-residence program and then traveled to four other libraries.
To learn more about these efforts, please visit the following links...
Read this essay published on the Slavic and East European Blog, in which I reflect on my time with the OPHP.
See Dostoevsky Behind Bars (2014), a documentary featuring interviews with instructors, class participants, and prison administration.
Listen to a short audio story by Wisconsin Public Radio on the Oakhill classes and Dostoevsky Behind Bars (4/1/2014).
Read an article about my first classes at Oakhill by Madison's Cap Times (4/11/2012).
I completed the International Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program Instructor Training in June 2018 and look forward to returning to prison education soon.
A small sample of the music produced by the men of Artists in Absentia can be found below.