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Profile: Megan Sweeney

Title: Arthur F. Thurnau Associate Professor and EDWP Director
Ph.D., Duke University  2002

Contact Info


3020 TH







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Research Interests

Primary Interests

20th/21st-Century African American literature and culture; critical race studies; transnational feminist and gender studies; prison studies; cultural studies; ethnography; creative non-fiction; pedagogy; and community engaged learning.


“Reading Is My Window”: Books and the Art of Reading  in Women’s Prisons; University of North Carolina Press, 2010 
  • (Winner, 2011 Emily Toth Award for Best Single Work in Women's Studies)
  • (Winner, 2010 PASS Award from the National Council of Crime and Delinquency)
  • (Honorable Mention, 2011 Gloria E. Anzaldua Book Prize, National Women's Studies Association)
The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading; University of Illinois Press, 2012

“The Rickety Bridge: Prisoners and Human Rights in the Literature Classroom.”  Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies.  Eds. Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg and Alexandra Schultheis.  New York: MLA, 2015.
“‘Keepin’it real’: Incarcerated Women’s Readings of African American Urban Fiction.”  From Codex to Hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century.  Ed. Anouk Lang.  University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.

“Legal Brutality: Prisons and  Punishment, the American Way,” American Literary History 22.3 (Fall 2010): 698-713.
“‘I lived that book!’:  Reading Behind Bars.” Interrupted Life: The Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United StatesEd. Rickie Solinger.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.  180-87.

“Reading and Reckoning in a Women’s Prison.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 50.3 (2008): 304-328.  Special Issue on Detention.  Ed.  Phillip Barrish.

“Books as Bombs: Incendiary Reading Practices in Women’s Prisons.”  PMLA 123.3 (May 2008): 666-672.

Beard v. Banks: Deprivation as Rehabilitation.” PMLA 122.3 (May 2007): 779-783.

“‘Something Rogue’: Commensurability, Commodification, Crime, and Justice in Toni Morrison’s Later Fiction.”  Modern Fiction Studies 52.2 (Summer 2006): 440-469.

“Prison Narratives, Narrative Prisons: Incarcerated Women Reading Gayl Jones’s Eva’s Man.”  After the Pain: Critical Essays on Gayl Jones, Ed. Fiona  Mills and Keith Mitchell, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006. 173-202.

“Prison Narratives, Narrative Prisons:  Incarcerated Women Reading Gayl Jones’s Eva’s Man.”  Feminist Studies 30.2 (Summer 2004):  456-482.
  • (winner of 2003 Feminist Studies Award)
“Racial House, Big House, Home: Contemporary  Abolitionism in Toni Morrison’s Paradise.”  Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 4.2 (Spring 2004): 36-63.

“Living to Read True Crime: Theorizations from Prison.”  Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 25.1-2 (Winter/Spring 2003): 55-89.

“Provocations and Possibilities: Rethinking Prisoners’ Discourse” (Guest Editor’s Introduction). Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 35.3-4 (Fall/Winter 2002): 393-405.

“Legally Blind: Seeking Alternative  Literacies From Prison.”  Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture  35.3-4 (Fall/Winter 2002): 599-624.

“Two Unpublished Letters from Lady Morgan to Richard Jones.”  English Language Notes 23.3 (1998): 40-52.

“To Succeed in Becoming Criminal Without Crime: The Algorithm of True Crime Texts.”  Symploke 6.1-2 (1998):  145-156.

Review: Fugitive Thought: Prison  Movements, Race, and the Meaning of Justice by Michael Hames-Garcia and Questionable  Charity: Gender, Humanitarianism, and Complicity in U.S. Literary Realism by William M. Morgan, American Literature 77.4 (December  2005): 864-867.

Review: Law, Crime and Sexuality: Essays in Feminism by Carol P. Smart, Crime, Law & Social Change 26.4 (1996): 385-388.

“Freedom for Me Was an Evolution, Not a Revolution.”   Race and Prison.  Eds. Curtis Stokes and Lynn O. Scott.  East Lansing, Michigan State University Press, forthcoming 2015.

“Mendings” (book manuscript)

“‘The Gardener Who Prepared the Soil’: Sadie Peterson Delaney and the Legacy of Arts-based Therapies for Veterans” (article)

  • The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading
  • Reading Is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Women’s Prisons

Additional Info

  • Director of English Department Writing Program, 2012-
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, DAAS, 2010-2014
  • Finalist, Hiett Prize in the Humanities, Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 2015
  • MLA Delegate Assembly member, Ethnic Studies division, 2015-2018
  • awarded Institute for the Humanities Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2015-2016
  • awarded Arthur F. Thurnau professorship, University of Michigan, 2014
  • awarded Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award, University of Michigan, 2010
  • awarded Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Faculty Fellowship, 2007-2008 (accepted)
  • awarded Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2007-2008 (declined)

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