Affiliated Courses

At the university
a circle of stiff classroom chairs
which we unbend with our minds
“The men at Ryan and I
come to the workshop,” Chris says,
“for the same reason:
something is missing in our lives,
and we come there to find it.”

    -from “For Mike, Because You Asked,” by Buzz Alexander, Founder and Member of PCAP


PCAP's affiliated courses train students to facilitate workshops in the arts in state prisons, juvenile facilities, and Detroit high schools. Please check the current U-M class schedule for available seats and enrollment instructions.

Winter 2015

ENGLISH 326.001 - The Portfolio Project

In ENGLISH 326 students work one on one with incarcerated youth, helping them create a portfolio of their writing and art to present to their judges, employers, teachers, and family members. Students go each week to one of four or five youth facilities. We will be reading from a variety of texts, and students will keep weekly journals, make weekly reports on their work with the youth, write a final paper, and attend meetings of the Prison Creative Arts Project every other Wednesday night 7:10-9:00pm.

Interviews are required for admission to the course; students with some experience in youth facilities or with some understanding of youth incarceration will have priority, but others are definitely welcome as well — it is interest and commitment we're looking for. Check Buzz Alexander's office at 3275 Angell Hall for specially posted hours for interviews for this course.

Instructor: Buzz Alexander
Consent: With permission of instructor.

RCCORE 334/THTREMUS 399.009 - Theatre and Incarceration

Artistic practice in prisons has occurred since the inception of prisons themselves, though popular thought tends not to connect the idea of the arts with that of criminal justice systems. This course surveys the history of performance in prisons through the examination of plays written by and about prisoners as well as narratives which chronicle the process of creating theatre in prisons. More importantly, the course also requires all enrolled students to enter an adult prison once a week throughout the semester to lead a theatre workshop with prisoners. Students will be placed in pairs to facilitate workshops, and each workshop will hold a performance at the end of the semester. Students and prisoners together create social change through their performances, both by bringing two disparate communities (ie. undergrads and prisoners) into meaningful interaction and also by using theatre to explore significant social issues.

Students who complete this course are eligible to participate in PCAP's summer theatre exchange program at UniRio in Brazil.

Instructor: Ashley Lucas
Consent: With permission of instructor. Attend the information event on November 3, 2014 or email Ashley [lucasash@umich.edu] to set up an interview 

Returning Fall 2015 

THTREMUS 399.009/RCCORE 334 - The Atonement Project

Students will conduct arts workshops in the genre of their choosing in prisons, juvenile facilities, and victims' rights groups. Whenever the participants grant consent, artistic products of these workshops will be posted on the Atonement Project website as a means for starting conversations about reconciliation and atonement among people who have committed crimes and those who have experienced the effects of crime.

Instructor: Ashley Lucas
Consent: With permission of instructor. Sign up for an interview slot on August 27, or email Ashley Lucas to schedule an appointment.

ENGLISH 221.002/RCHUMS 334.011 - Revision in Theory and Practice

This course will invite students to take part in the ongoing scholarly conversation surrounding revision, and to examine the revision processes of writers at various levels of skill. On the further assumption that you never know a thing half as well as when you are forced to teach it to someone else, this course will also invite students to guide others in the act of revision. To do so, the course will partner with the Prison Creative Arts Project's Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, a yearly anthology of work by inmates in Michigan prisons. This journal, produced by students and community volunteers, offers concrete and individualized feedback to each of the hundreds of writers whose work is rejected each year; students will have the opportunity to exemplify and complete their learning in this course by taking on a few such rejected manuscripts themselves.

Instructor: Phil Christman